Background to Event
Storm met Miles some four years ago at a Rolls-Royce senior management leadership programme Miles was speaking at, and immediately afterwards suggested to Miles that they embark on a long-range microlight flight together, which Miles leapt at, despite having absolutely no flight experience with microlights.Storm has already undertaken an amazing microlight flight from India back to the Farnborough Air Show several years ago, so is no stranger to the challenges Miles will be facing. Miles then had to consider how he could fly an aircraft without sight, but suddenly realised that all commercial pilots have to learn to fly “blind” on instrument to qualify. From there he started a long quest to find a company willing to take up the challenge of attempting to convert the complex data from the diverse flight instruments into text and speech. After a long search he met Adrian Sach, the CEO of Software Express, who had already developed an award-winning speech-output programme for blind people with no previous experience to access computers. The brilliant result is the Guide Flight system, linking all the main flight instruments via speech into the pilot’s headphones. Miles flies with a 5 inch by 3 inch switch box attached to the leg of his flying suit with velcro, that is connected to his dedicated flight instruments, quite separate from the microlights own high-tech flight instruments. He can access up to 32 different types of flight information at any time, including his air speed, ground speed, compass bearing, aircraft heading, track over ground, distance to next way-point, wind drift, altimeter pressure settings and altitude, etc, enabling him to fly and navigate quite independently from Storm sitting behind him fulfilling the Civil Aviations requirements as a qualified flight instructor as a back-up if necessary. Miles then got in touch with the local Ramair club and started learning to fly with Ian Barlow, a qualified instructor and examiner. “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!” Ian then helped Miles learn to fly and helped him with his exams and qualifications. Storm was working in China at this point and happened to watch a programme on TV about the Seeing is Believing cause. He phoned Miles at 2am and told him that these were the people they should be doing the event with. After meeting the Standard Chartered Bank they kindly agreed to cover all the costs of the trip in the bid to raise the $1,000,000 target. Jon Cook, a close friend of Miles', then got involved and has been helping to coordinate things as a project manager.