A group of injured veterans – including some severely disabled – took to the skies this week as they learned to fly for the first time. On Wednesday 18th April, injured ex-service personnel from military charity Blesma, The Limbless Veterans got the opportunity to learn to fly their own light aircraft, which has been made accessible to people of all disabilities.
The trial flying day, at Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, was the brainchild of Blesma Member and former Royal Marine reservist Alex Krol, who approached the charity as part of their ‘local activities pilot’. The pilot encourages Blesma Members to arrange their own rehabilitation activities to connect with fellow members in their hometowns with similar interests. The charity then supports the Member to make the day a reality.
Alex, 36, from Formby, Merseyside, was injured in a road traffic accident whilst on duty in 2005. He lost all movement and sensation below his chest.
Alex said: “I got into flying in 2008 after I was injured. I was offered a scholarship from Douglas Bader’s Flying Scholarships for Disabled People and then I got the bug. Shortly afterwards I went to South Africa, where I clocked up 50 hours of flying and got my Pilot Licence. Flying is my passion and I want to share this with other Blesma Members, with the hope they will also think it is great and want to get their own Pilot Licence.”
The event was supported by Blesma, The Limbless Veterans. Each participant got a 45 minutes’ hands on flying lesson at John Lennon Airport. Last year, Blesma organised 42 rehabilitation activities for 312 participants. Aerobility also provided help and support.