Disabled pilots take on charity relay challenge

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A charity aviation event with strong links to Cumbernauld and Kilsyth is currently underway.

The Freedom of Flight charity relay will see a team of disabled pilots fly all over Scotland to raise funds to help teach other disabled people to fly.

Another major aim is to show what disabled people can achieve great things given the opportunity.

The organiser is Greenock woman Pauline Gallagher (39), an officer with 2496 Squadron, Cumbernauld’s branch of the Air Training Corps.

Pauline, who has cerebral palsy and a hearing impairment, earned her pilot’s licence with the assistance of Flying Scholarships for Disabled People.

Her interest in aviation was sparked by a visit to Glasgow Airport at the age of four.

Pauline said: “Every four year old has a dream. That was mine.

“FDSP helped me realise my dream of flying a light aircraft solo. Further flight training - to gain a Private Pilot’s Licence - has been supported by Aerobility, the other beneficiary of the Challenge.

“FDSP gave me a way forward with the medical certification necessary for flying. It’s given me so much. Flying solo for the first time was the realisation of a dream.

“Thanks to all the sponsors the Relay Challenge is able to spread the word about FDSP, Aerobility and its goals and to give someone else that way forward, as well as the confidence to make their dream come true”.

Kilsyth man William Maphausen (26) is also participating in the relay

William (26), who has hydromobile joints, is a bus driver and garden centre owner.

“I’ve always been interested in flying,” said William. “I’ll be with an instructor as I have only done an induction flight so far, but I think the challenge will be a lot of fun. Our seaplane was built in 1969 so it’s older than I am and I’ve never been in one before.”

Whisky drinkers may indeed find the seaplane used in William’s leg of the challenge familiar as it has featured in a TV ad for Haig Club whisky starring David Beckham which aired last October.

You can learn more about the Freedom of Flight challenge, and make a donation, by visiting www.freedom-of-flight.co.uk.