This Spring Flyability was invited by organisers Tony Smith and Steve Blackler to run hang gliding tandems for disabled people during the warm up days of the Great British Aerotow Revival competition. Judy Leden MBE from Airways Airsports travelled down to help with piloting the tandems. In total across the day Judy flew 6 tandem flights with disabled passengers with 5 experiencing flying in a hang glider for the first time. The flights took place on Thursday 5 May 2022 at Deenethorpe airfield in Northamptonshire.
Passengers included two wheelchair users: Di Coates MBE (Paralympic gold medalist) and Rich Bray (Paralympic hopeful), 17 year old bone cancer survivor Adam Bennet, Phil Paul who has been unable to work due to depression and Carl Weininger.
Phil said about his flight “it was one of the most amazing things I’ve done, leading up to the day I was very nervous and was thinking of backing out but went for it. I never thought too much about being so high up on my very first flight. By the time I had any chance to worry about the height I was at over 1,000ft. I’ve never felt so free in my life and hope I can repeat this again as the joy I’ve had from it is huge. I’m still smiling four days later”. Adam’s mum Samantha said “Adam is still buzzing from such and incredible first hang gliding experience. I don’t think it will be his last”. Di said “A great experience and day. I will remember it for a long time. Just floating in the air”. Rich said “I can’t stop grinning”.
Carl Wallbank and Moyes very kindly provided a Moyes t-shirt and cap for all the passengers.
Flyability has been helping disabled people to fly hang-gliders and paragliders in the UK for over 25 years. Our scholarship scheme and loans of specialist equipment exist to make both paragliding and hang gliding as accessible as possible across the UK.
Flyability are delighted that we were able to share our sport with passengers with a broad range of disabilities. We’d like to thank Tony and Steve for inviting us to join them, Judy for being our brilliant tandem pilot and all of the competitors and tug pilots and volunteers at GBAR who helped make these flights possible and Mick and Kevin at Deenethorpe for making us all so welcome.