The ability to fly isn’t solely the domain of able-bodied pilots and a team from Switzerland are out to prove that.
On November 18 two Flight Design CTLS aircraft departed Geneva on a flight around the world. A team of disabled pilots will fly 80,000km across the globe, visiting 40 countries and providing 150 opportunities to meet and be inspired by the team.
Handiflight was founded by Daniel Ramseier in 2007 and meets at Gruyere every two years. It has become the biggest fly-in of disabled pilots from around the world and provides a unique opportunity to share experiences and enjoy flying in the beauty of the Swiss Alps.
However, for 2018 the decision was made to fly around the world rather than hold a fly in.
The two CTLS aircraft will be flown by Paolo Pocobelli and Guillaume Féral. They will fly the legs to Australia, the Pacific and the Atlantic solo, with many legs open to other disabled pilots.
Three Australians will take part in the flight; Cliff Princehorn, David McPherson and Glenn Bannister will join the trek in the United States, though they will be assisting the team when it crosses Australia in late February.
Based in Bendigo, Glenn became a paraplegic after a motorcycle racing accident 20 years ago. His love of aviation was a big factor in his recovery.
“The thing was apart from concerns about how this was going to affect my family and our business all I could think of was if I could fly again. I couldn’t think of anything else. When you are in that situation you need something that will give you hope. In rehab, I saw people who were climbing cliffs and that got me going by giving me hope that I could fly again. After your accident, you are really uncertain about what you are going to be able to do once you get into a wheelchair.
“It’s really all I thought of because aviation has been such a huge part of my life.”
The CTLS’s are fitted with a combination hand control for rudder and throttle which is used by the pilot’s right hand, with the left operating a standard joystick.
You can follow the trek here: