Mission Aviation Fellowship

Disabled woman’s life “transformed” after learning to fly from home

A 56-year-old disabled woman from London is learning to fly on her computer with Aerobility’s Virtual Aviation Experience (VAE).

Yvonne, whose disabilities have a profound impact on her mobility, speech, and emotional well-being says her life has been “enriched” after completing Aerobility’s free VAE course.

Yvonne has been disabled since 2021 after she experienced a stroke which severely affected the right side of her body, making tasks requiring fine motor skills and coordination challenging.

As well as this, her speech was also affected by the stroke, meaning communicating effectively with others can be difficult. The free Virtual Aviation Experience launched by Aerobility is funded by the UK Government and powered by GeoFS – an accessible web-based flight simulator.

The course opens up the world of aviation to a community of people who might have previously felt it was not possible. Yvonne said: “I found the VAE course to be a transformative experience that has enriched my life.”

“Coping with the challenges that resulted from the stroke can take a toll on my emotional wellbeing. It’s not just the physical limitations but also the frustration and sometimes embarrassment that come with struggling to perform tasks or express myself.

“I heard about the charity through a friend and decided to give the VAE course a try. The encouragement I received from my instructor has boosted my self-esteem and confidence. I hope that I can inspire others with disabilities to sign up.”

Mike Miller-Smith, CEO of Aerobility, said: “The Virtual Aviation Experience is the merger of flight school and simulator and delivers it to any disabled person throughout the UK through their computer. The programme helps us support those disabled people who are unable to make it to our centres at Blackbushe Airport and Tatenhill Airfield.

“The Virtual Aviation Experience is designed even for beginners who have never flown before. It provides a realistic introduction to piloting one of Aerobility’s aircraft, so should the bug take hold, VAE flyers will have a head-start when coming to fly with us for real.”

The courses are led by Aerobility pilots, volunteers and flight instructors and are free of charge for those who apply. The courses are for adults and children aged 12 and above, living in the UK with a disability. Applicants should be able to communicate in English. Technical support is offered from the start and equipment is available to loan for the duration of the course if necessary.

For those sufficiently mobile to be able to visit Aerobility and take part in a flight, the charity says it is pleased to confirm a fourth operational base, following on from commencement of operations at its third base at Lydd Airport in Kent last month. The charity now has bases at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire (its HQ), Tatenhill Airport in Staffordshire, Lydd Airport in Kent and Cornwall Airport in Newquay.

The last two locations are recent additions, with flights from Lydd commencing last month, operated by Lydd Aero Club, and a new partnership with Flynqy Pilot Training at Cornwall Airport, due to commence this August.

Author: FTN Editor

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