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It is a surprise to many people - disabled and able bodied - that flying is very much a possibility for people with a range of disabilities. Indeed, disabled flying can provide a level of challenge and exhilaration that may be difficult to find anywhere else.
Mike Miller-Smith MBE
Aerobility is a registered charity founded in 1993 offering disabled people, without exception, the opportunity to fly an aeroplane.
For some, just that amazing first flight is enough to change their outlook on disability forever:
"If I can fly a plane, what else can I do?"
Others, realising that the fantasy of flight is truly in their grasp, decide to continue their training - many all the way to securing a Private Pilot's Licence, some even with an outlook to commercial flying.
Aerobility provides 'experience of a lifetime' trial flying lessons for as many terminally ill and disabled people as possible every year, also subsidised flying days for other disability charities and at-cost instruction and qualification flight training to members.
How we operate
A User Led Organisation ("ULO"), Aerobility is run largely by disabled aviators, for disabled people. Through various fundraising initiatives and careful management strategies we allow disabled people to fly for a fraction of the commercial rate.
Aerobility also provides advice, knowledge and advocacy for disabled people who wish to fly, and is the representative body for disabled aviation within the UK.
Our funding and ambitions
Despite our professional appearance, and the astonishing outcomes that we produce, we are critically short of funding. We rely on donations, in cash and kind. These come from a small number of commercial organisations and charitable trusts, together with subscriptions from members, and the annual Aviators Ball fundraiser.
We do so much more, with so much less - literally stretching every penny into the sky for our charity - but find that demand always outstrips what we can supply.
Constantly looking to further improve what we offer, it is our ambition to grow into a better, as well as bigger organisation - and we need the funds to make it possible.
Aerobility has operating bases at a number of airfields in the UK: Our headquarters at Blackbushe, Tatenhill in the Midlands, and Prestwick in Scotland. We also fly from many other airfields on temporary detachment.
Through the support of members and sponsors Aerobility operates a mixed fleet of light aircraft, balanced for capability, most being owned outright with others leased to suit demand. Our main training aircraft is the Piper Warrior 161, adapted so that it can be flown by people with disabilities. Even severely disabled people can be hoisted into the cockpit, using our specially developed hoisting techniques, and electric robotic or manual hoists. We also have a PA32 Cherokee 6, a larger aircraft with more loading capacity which allows us to take larger wheelchairs, power-chairs and a hoist with us on our flights, so that we can operate away from our usual bases without having to bring equipment by road. We will shortly be adding a brand new fuel-efficient Tecnam two seater to the fleet, modified at the factory to meet our requirements.
Following a major fundraising effort in 2012, we also now own a fixed-base PA-28 flight simulator which is located at our main office at Blackbushe Airport. In addition to our fixed-base simulator, and thanks to funding from Sport England we also have a mobile simulator which we can transport to exhibitions, shows and events.