Aerobility disabled aviator Nathan Doidge to participate in Round the World Flight – promoting aviation for young people

The story begins in 2012 when disabled flying charity Aerobility invited astronaut Buzz Aldrin to participate in its Guinness World Record longest flight simulator flight challenge. The 10 day record was set and history was made, and along the way Buzz has become an Aerobility supporter and patron. Fast forward to 2015 and Buzz introduced Aerobility to Captain Judy Rice and Think Global Flight, an organisation and project which shares so much in common with Aerobility – making aviation accessible to all and using the magic of flight to stimulate and focus on ability.

Judy invited Aerobility to participate in the flight, taking part in the flight from Edinburgh to Blackbushe Airport which also happens to be the HQ of the charity. Aerobility invited the disabled community to enter a competition to join Judy for the flight, and two winners were drawn from the hat by Buzz and Judy.

Nathan Doidge was drawn as the primary participant, and Matthew Noakes as the standby. Some background and comments from the guys in their own words:

Nathan Doidge
“Put him in a home, forget about him and have another baby.” That's what the doctor told my parents when I was born with cerebral palsy. My disability has meant, throughout my life, I've been told I wouldn't be able to do things but I've always enjoyed proving people wrong.
Probably the most notable of these was learning to fly, resulting in me gaining my pilot's licence in August 2012. I then participated in Aerobility's Global Flight Simulator Challenge (GFSC), a successful attempt to break the world record for the longest duration simulated flight. Fellow participants on the same day included Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, who I first met in August 2010 when we were passengers on the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; Apollo 11 Astronaut, Buzz Aldrin; and his passenger, Chris Evans. This lead to Chris doing a great piece about me on the BBC One Show. Soon after this, in November 2012, I was awarded the Aviator of the Year sword, presented to me by Buzz at the Aerobility Aviators' Ball. 
My hope is all this will enable me to continue challenging people's perceptions, able-bodied or otherwise, of disabled people and what they can and can't do; show, contrary to what most media conveys, a disabled person's life isn't all about 'coping' with their disability. In fact, for most, it's a very small consideration next to all the usual factors involved in not just leading a 'normal' life but living it to the full. I'd also like to show that everyone in the world, not just disabled people, is in one minority group or another and it's okay to be different, no matter what that difference is."

Matthew Noakes
"Right, the flying, I'm very close to the end result, I have two more flights booked in before my skills test in June, all ground exams are passed so it's just the last bit of flying before I finish my pilot’s licence. 
The injury to my shoulder was a result of  operations in Afghanistan, leaving me after several operations, and lots of rehabilitation, restriction in strength and movement, but I don't see it as a disability, as since it has all happened I have had the pleasure of meeting people and charities they run such as Aerobility, this has enabled me to participate in things I have always wanted to since a child, dreams I thought lost, I thought I had it all planned out before going to Afghanistan but getting injured changed all that, without the help of charities such as Aerobility I would not have grown my confidence back enough to think I would be able to become a pilot, which I have always dreamed, now I'm just a couple of flights away!
The chance to participate in the Edinburgh to Blackbushe flight is an Amazing opportunity, to see what life is like as a real jet pilot would, and to participate in such a unique and important flight – encouraging young people to become involved with aviation and science. And who wouldn't want to fly in a jet!"

What is going to happen on 16 June?
Just after 3 PM Judy arrives in the Cessna Citation Jet at the Blackbushe HQ of disabled flying charity Aerobility. She will be greeted by Aerobility disabled flyers, and disabled schoolchildren from the local area. The flight brings together a global community of aviators – all bonded by the love of flight and the desire to use aviation as a tool to change lives. This can happen in many ways – from encouraging a wounded soldier suffering from PTSD to regain self belief and a feeling of achievement through the challenges of learning to fly – by giving a young person with a learning disability the chance to handle the controls of an aircraft in flight and helping them to realise that there is much to achieve in life and value in finding ability and confidence – through Think Global Flight delivering an exciting worldwide message that learning about aviation stimulates a new generation of young engineers and scientists.

The media are invited to help us to welcome Think Global Flight and Captain Rice.

***ENDS***

Note to Editors
Aerobility is a registered charity offering disabled people, without exception, the opportunity to fly and participate in aviation based activities.  Aerobility removes barriers and offers disabled people a real sense of achievement and life changing freedom.  Aerobility's specially adapted light aircraft fly from various airfields around the UK and every year support over 400 physically disabled, learning-disabled, wounded soldiers and sensory impaired people. Participants are supported to learn to fly, gain independence or employment in aviation. For more information about Aerobility please visit www.aerobility.com  email info@aerobility.com or call 0303 303 1230

Think Global Flight is an around the world flight promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) through aviation and aerospace education, inspiring students to succeed and excel in these critical areas.  The flight will encourage and foster the international exchange of information among industry, professional associations, government agencies, and the educational community, thus growing a greater awareness of the capabilities for S.T.E.M. education, especially as related to the aviation and aerospace disciplines.  See the web site:  www.thinkglobalflight.com


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