MY passion for flying started years before my road accident in 1984, which rendered me tetraplegic, and forced me to adapt to a new life in a wheelchair.
From a young age, my goal was to become a Tornado pilot, as I’d always been interested in planes, not just to look at, but to also understand how they fly and the engineering behind them.
At 17 years old, the plan was to join the RAF once I’d completed a degree at university.
I planned to do the degree under sponsorship, and go on to earn my wings as a pilot, but there was unfortunately no chance of ever flying a fighter plane after my accident.
I went into accountancy instead, originally wanting to earn some money so that I could eventually fund flying a plane, and then founded the business Cyclone Technologies, which I now run with rally driver and paraplegic, Dave Hawkins.
My goals changed, but I still wanted to fly a plane one day, and have the money to do it.
Around four years ago, I got my chance and went for a test flight at a mobility roadshow at Kemble Airfield, near Cirencester.
The experience was everything I’d hoped it would be, and the feeling of being up in the open air and looking down on the world beneath me was exhilarating.
The idea of controlling the plane seemed extremely daunting and scary at first, but it was quite easy once I became accustomed to the controls.
The knack is gently controlling the plane, as it will naturally fly itself for the most part.
I fly with a charitable foundation called the BDFA (British Disabled Flying Association) which provide flying sessions for people with disabilities at several venues around the country. The charity is a fantastic organisation which gives disabled people the chance to enjoy the incredible thrill of flying; helping to change lives, rebuild confidence and help them achieve something they thought wouldn’t be possible.
I couldn’t be happier about having been given this opportunity by people who are in the same position.
The charity’s planes are adapted slightly, with changes made to the rudder controls, but everything else is done through hand controls for the throttle and flaps.
The plane I fly is a Piper PA128, a light aircraft which is ideal for flight training.
Alongside continuing to fly, my main aim now is to achieve my pilot’s licence, which can be done through a scholarship in South Africa with the Douglas Bader Foundation.
With my family and the running of the business, finding time to do this will be difficult, but I’m determined to do it one day!