A group of Trustees and supporters from Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP) are visiting over 40 airfields across the country this month to celebrate its’ 40th Anniversary. The Charity provides flying scholarships and has enabled nearly 400 disabled adults across the UK to change their lives for the better through the thrill of aviation.
FSDP was set up in 1983 as a celebration of the life of Sir Douglas Bader by the late Paul Bowen and Tim Prince, founders of the world-renowned airshow, the Royal International Air Tattoo, of which Sir Douglas had been Patron and a proactive supporter.
After losing both legs in an air accident in 1931, Sir Douglas persisted to resume his flying career with the RAF where he went on to achieve fame in WWll as a Fighter pilot, leader, and dedicated supporter of disabled people, to whom he set an outstanding example of courage and perseverance.
The ‘Big Wing Tour’ takes place in June with both able bodied and disabled aircrews setting out from their local airfields to fly routes that will cover most of the country with former FSDP scholars joining the crews and even flying stages of the tour.
As well as the former scholars, the crews will also be accompanied by an appropriately named Teddy Bear – with ‘Douglas Bearder’ taking the lead!
Ian Revell, Vice-Chair of the charity, who came up with the idea has already ventured as far north as the Orkney Islands in Scotland, accompanied by ‘Charles LindBeargh’ commented,
“We’re visiting airfields across the country to raise the profile of FSDP and Douglas Bader’s achievements to inspire and encourage those with a disability to apply for one of our scholarships. They too will be able to learn to fly, join our support network and change their lives for the better.”
The first leg was on Monday 12 June with the route taking in airfields in the far north of England and Scotland including Liverpool, Eshott (Northumberland), Prestwick, Cumbernauld, Glenrothes (Fife), Perth, Dundee, Lossiemouth, Inverness, Wick and Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. Unfortunately, bad weather meant an additional overnight stop in Aberdeen but the team were not deterred.
The second leg takes place on Friday 16th June with mascot Chesley ‘Sully’ SullenBEARger accompanying FSDP Trustee and Flying Instructor, John Sorsby.
They depart Gloucestershire Airport at 8.30am and visit Kemble, Cardiff, Swansea, Shobdon, Welshpool, Halfpenny Green/Wolverhampton, Wellesbourne, Turweston before returning Gloucester, accompanied by a number of disabled scholars during the flights.
Other routes will continue throughout June and cover the South East, North of the UK, Midlands and Northern Ireland.
To find out more about FSDP, apply for a scholarship, or become a sponsor please go to www.fsdp.co.uk