Neutral countries during wartime are may be either a net or a sanctuary for aviators. Portugal is well placed as an Atlantic diversion refuge to this day, during wartime it was a lifebuoy for those with technical problems or a landfall for the lost.
This fascinating website has cataloged the waifs, stray and the unfortunate who made it into Portugal during the Second World war. I found it fascinating and short only of expanded story-lines and perhaps a few photos. You cannot blame the webmaster Carlos Guerreiro for that, those treasures are probably lost forever or buried deep within Portuguese Air Force archives as military secrets.
Piers is a good friend of mine, he is an aviator himself and comes from a long line of flyers. He has a keen sense of history and a lifelong fascination with all things that make their way around ‘up there’ be they avian, human or wood and fabric. We share many interests and while I am away down-route we and bat and ball ribald conversation in voice and text across Skype. We laugh a lot and most of the humour is utterly unprintable.
Back to the ‘long line of fliers’. It seems that and one of Piers’ ancestors left behind a time capsule, a writing case recently rediscovered in a family loft. It contains the personal effects of a great uncle, one Arthur Keen and until recently the case has probably remained unopened since it was sealed in 1918. There was no key, Piers had to break the lock to gain access.
What a difference it must make to someone to discover that the four walls that surround them are not their life’s new horizon.
UK Flying Charity Aerobility Trains Injured Soldiers to Pilot Light Aircraft
· Aerobility is a charity that owns and operates customised aircraft and equipment to facilitate flying lessons for the disabled
· Injured military personnel have gained pilots licences and undergone their first solo flights this summer
· Aerobility is currently seeking donations from the public and industry towards purchasing a Gippsland Airvan in order to extend the training and support it offers
London, 6th October 2010
UK flying charity Aerobility www.aerobility.com, alongside the Ministry of Defence ‘Battle Back’ scheme and Help for Heroes is providing tuition so that injured service personnel can learn to pilot light aircraft. In the coming months, Trooper Corie Mapp, who was seriously injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan will be participating in flight training provided by Aerobility. Others have already benefited from the scheme, such as paraplegic Royal Marine Arthur Williams, who this summer achieved his pilot’s licence through a program facilitated by Aerobility.
With support from the MoD and Help for Heroes www.helpforheroes.org.uk, Aerobility is teaching a number of injured servicemen to fly. The challenge of this activity helps them come to terms with their injuries and offers them inspiration and hope for the future. Trooper Corie Mapp, who lost his legs in Afghanistan in January, has found motivation in his new passion for flying. This has become both a key driving factor in his rehabilitation and a potential future career path.
Trooper Corie Mapp, of the Household Cavalry said:
“Aerobility has given me a chance to live a lifelong dream. When I got injured in Afghan I thought that all my hopes and dreams were over but through this charity, I along with other comrades have a chance to be a part of something special and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
Mike Miller-Smith, CEO of Aerobility added:
“These guys have had a rough time and it is very rewarding to provide something positive and see them grab the opportunity to fly with such enthusiasm and skill. We can help them turn the negativity of their situation into a positive future either with aviation as a new hobby or even as a new career. From the front line to the front seat so to speak.”
Aerobility owns and operates specialised planes which mean it can provide trial flights and experience days for the disabled community, as well as Private Pilot’s Licence (“PPL”) training. In 2009, Aerobility helped over 300 disabled people experience the joy of flight. The charity has flown people with every conceivable disabling condition, from spinal injury, amputation and Multiple Sclerosis, through to learning and sensory disabilities.
Although the work Aerobility had been doing with wounded military personnel has been extremely beneficial, there is so much more that could be done. With the correct equipment, the pilots gaining their licences through Aerobility could go on to become commercial pilots. Currently there are six disabled commercial pilots in the UK, but they are restricted to centre thrust aircraft.
Marine Arthur Williams, who was paralysed after severing his spinal cord learned to fly through training offered by Aerobility. Marine Williams recently led a ‘Heroes Fly In’ at Coventry Airport in aid of Help for Heroes, piloting an Aerobility PA28 Warrior and touching down to a rapturous reception from the 10,000 strong crowd.
Marine Williams, of Lima Company, 42 Commando said:
“Many pilots thrive on new challenges and are always improving their skills, aiming to be the best. Disabled pilots are no different, but no one has yet achieved flying a twin engine aircraft with disabled hand controls. We are looking to aerospace and engineering companies to take up the challenge of supporting us to develop a rudder control adaptation that enables disabled people to progress into the world of commercial aviation, opening up a career path for those of us driven to fly.”
Aerobility’s existing aircraft are for training purposes only, so have limited internal capacity and cannot carry specialist robot lifting equipment for larger wheelchairs. Transporting this equipment is a significant burden in time, cost and convenience for a charity run mostly by disabled people and means that those flying must always land at their departure airfield. To overcome these problems, Aerobility is seeking to raise £350,000 to purchase a Gippsland Airvan, which can carry all necessary equipment, can be flown by people of all disabilities and seats up to eight people. This aircraft can also accommodate photography equipment, remote sensing technology and medical equipment so would provide a source of revenue for the charity in the future.
For more information about Aerobility, please visit the website or view the attached press pack.
PRESS OFFICE: Singleton PR