World Record Bid – London to Sydney 13,000 Miles by Microlight
On Monday 5 March Miles will embark on one of his greatest record attempts to date, flying a microlight more than half-way around the world from the famous Biggen Hill airfield outside London to Sydney Australia. He will be relying on revolutionary speech-output technology to access his flight instruments and navigate the microlight, accompanied by Brian Milton to Cyprus, then Richard Meredith-Hardy to Sydney, two of the world's most experienced and decorated microlight pilots.
Miles was the first blind pilot to fly the English Channel with Storm Smith a couple of years ago, and they currently also hold the British high-altitude record, taking their microlight to 20,300 feet with open-cockpit temperatures of –55 Centigrade, frosting their flight instruments.
Miles is dedicating this world record 13,000 miles, 45-day flight to raising at least £1 million towards restoration of sight to blind people in the developing world today through the Standard Chartered Bank’s inspired “Seeing Is Believing” programme.
“I may never see again” says Miles, “but if, through this flight, thousands of blind people in developing countries can have this gift of sight restored to them again, it will be so incredibly worth it!”
'The Standard Chartered Bank have very graciously offered to support our flight, and both Storm and I have been humbled to see the commitment and personal involvement that their 28,000 employees around the world have shown towards their “Seeing Is Believing” charitable project.'
The microlight, a Mainair Quick GT450 has a 100HP 4-stroke engine, and they plan to cruise at around 70 knots, covering some 400/500 miles per day, depending on conditions. Their customised long-range 95-LITRE fuel tank will enable them to make flights of around 5.5 hours endurance where necessary, with additional tanks fitted for their flight from Indonesia to Australia extending their endurance to around 9 hours.
Their route will take them over the English Channel, then across France and down Italy before island-hopping across the Mediterranean over Syrian air space into Jordan. From there their route will take them over the United Arab Emirates, over the Arabian Sea over such countries as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Singapore and the island of West Timor before the long sea-crossing to Darwin, then down the Australian East Coast to Sydney and Canberra, where they hope to finish around Anzac Day, 25/6 April.
Although Miles is now a fully-qualified microlight pilot, having undertaken all his aviation exams, he would be the first to readily recognise the limitations imposed by his blindness. “I think there is a big difference between being adventurous and being foolhardy. I need Brian or Richard on board on the flights, but we plan to have a lot of fun together flying to Australia, encouraging people along the way to focus on the opportunities in their life, not their limitations. When I first went blind I thought it was the worst thing that could happen to me- now I think it is probably the most exciting thing that has happened to me”
Miles is also indebted to Ian Barlow, his microlight flying instructor from the local Ramair Club near his home in Derbyshire. “Ian has had to put a lot of work and dedication into understanding how different it all is for a blind person not being able to see the horizon around him- he has been a superstar!”
Miles and Richard or Brian will be speaking at a number of high-profile corporate events hosted by the bank, through which they hope to reach their target of $1,000,000. If you would like to sponsor Miles, please either go to the Seeing Is Believing Website under our Links section, or click here. All the money given will be double by The Standard Chartered Bank. They will be allocating the funds directly to the different programmes running in the individual countries and will be covering all the overhead expenses. This means that 100% of the money given will go directly to the people who need it most.
“I look forward to updating the site almost daily, and I would like to thank you all for your support and interest in our flight”