On May 9th 2010, I will be doing a wing walk to help raise awareness for Freedom in the Air, in particular for the Freedom Wings project. Freedom Wings is a wonderful opportunity to introduce disadvantaged or disabled youngsters to the freedom experienced in the air. A day in a light aircraft, safely taking control of the plane for a short time is a life-changing experience and enables young people to feel that they can reach for the skies and achieve virtually anything.

“Freedom in the Air allows people with disabilities to push back boundaries and experiences something that they could never have imagined. The freedom of flight has really transformed people’s thoughts and opinions and changed attitudes towards those with a disability”

Mick Dhillon, Chief Executive, The Disability Resource Centre.

Flying is one of the few activities where disabled people can participate to the same degree as an able-bodied person. The exhilarating experience rebuilds confidence and restores self-esteem. This, in turn, empowers people to explore their potential by extending their personal boundaries. In the air, we all fly at the same speed; nobody is disadvantaged or disabled.

The ten young participants, come from a variety of organizations (such as PHAB club, the Autistic Society, Barnardos, the Disability Resource Centre, the Young Carers Association and so on) will learn all about being a pilot, before having their own private 20 minute experience flight in a light aircraft with family members, where – if they wish – they can take control of the aircraft. All of this is carried out with full supervision of aviation safety practices.  We fly a PA28 Cherokee – fitted with the Vision air hand control – and a Cessna 172 – fitted with the Union hand control. These fittings enable pilots with lower limb disabilities to operate the rudder pedals with their hands.

Freedom Wings days are great fun. We challenge, we educate, we empower.  We use flying to raise people’s sights, expand their horizons and fulfill their potential. The day begins at about 11:00 when the group is welcomed to our aerodrome at Cranfield.

As a new team-member of the Wing walk display team, I will be expected to perform a 15 minute display of low level fly-pasts and steep climbs and vertical dives from 500 (subject to weather conditions).  It is probably a very foolish thing for me to be doing, however, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

My pilot will be Mike Dentith. Mike has been a professional display pilot for the last 25 years, first with the Tiger Club in Redhill where he learnt the skills of Formation flying and aerobatics, and then The Skyhawks Aerobatic Team with whom he travelled all over Europe and as far as Chile.  More recently he was the Flight Leader for the UK’’s famous Wingwalking team, initially as the “Crunchie Flying Circus” subsequently called  “Utterly Butterly Barnstormers”, travelling with the Team to Europe, Dubai and China.

This is a video of him flying a wing walker

Leave a Comment