Charity helps pilots to soar
PUBLISHED: 15:32 01 September 2010
A man who learnt to fly despite a severe disability is urging others in his situation to cling to their dreams.
Trainee pilot Nathan Doidge, 31, from Hayle, in Cornwall, landed at Biggin Hill Airport along with a World War II Hurricane and a Spitfire after they toured the country in tribute to Winston Churchill’s historic speech in praise of The Few – those who fought in the Battle of Britain.
Mr Doidge, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, learnt to fly with the help of charity Flying Scholarships for the Disabled (FSD), which awarded him a scholarship last year.
The pilot, who has now undertaken more than three hours of solo flying, had always dreamed of becoming a pilot, following in the footsteps of his late father, an aircraft engineer and glider pilot.
Mr Doidge said: “My dad took me to five lessons when I was 11, but we didn’t have enough money to carry on. I was forced to put the idea to the back of my mind because I thought no one would seriously teach me to fly.”
But when he joined aviator Polly Vacher on her Wings Around Britain tour in 2007, his love of flying was rekindled and she suggested he applied for funding from FSD.
Mr Doidge said: “When I applied for the scholarship I thought I didn’t have a chance, but I won it and spent four weeks flying last September in Lasham, Hampshire. I love it.
“When I first went up on my own I was terrified, but now I have done three hours like that it is no longer terrifying. The more you get to do it the more enjoyable it becomes. It proves you should never give up.”
He is now trying to get sponsorship to raise the £3,000 he will need to complete the extra 20 hours flying time needed to gain his Personal Pilots Licence.
After taking off from Duxford in Cambridgeshire on the morning of August 20, Mr Doidge joined representatives from the charity and Iron Maiden rock legend Bruce Dickinson, now a commercial airline pilot, who followed the route of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight across Kent and South-east England.
For more information about the charity, go to website www.toreachforthesky.org.uk.