CEO Mike Miller-Smith MBE on the inspiration behind Aerobility.
"Like many small boys when I was younger I wanted to fly, at the age of 15 I started gliding and went solo just after I turned 16. I did a lot of gliding in my late teenage years becoming a Gliding Instructor and even getting on the Junior British Gliding Team and then, whilst I was at University, I did my PPL and learned to power fly. When I became disabled in my mid twenties I had to work quite hard to keep flying but once I'd sort of got over those challenges I realised that it was great to try to share that with other disabled people.
The first challenge in disabled aviation is all the stuff on the ground. Aviation hasn't always been the most accessible from a physical perspective - just to get into the briefing room or even the toilet on an airfield can be a huge challenge. And then there's getting a disabled person into the actual aircraft - so we developed adaptions to hoists for example and then when in the aircraft we've adapted the controls here too. For example we have fitted a hand control that enables those without lower limb use to control the aircraft.
Some disabled people just know that they want to fly but for others aviation just isn't even on the agenda but when they come and experience a flight and they're up there in the sky and they're free... I know it's a cliche but you can really leave all your problems on the ground. Seeing the world from a different perspective is very empowering.
Often when disabled people come together it's due to their disabilities being the common ground, which can be a negative experience, but we bring together people who are enjoying flying and being around others who fly and want to fly!"