Sky's the limit as student glider pilots go solo 01 November 2010
The sky really is the limit for a group of soldiers who have just passed the basic gliding course with solo flights. Thanks to the Army Gliding Association's Wyvern Gliding Club the student pilots soared to success, including some soldiers who are recovering from injuries.
Last month a new group of student pilots attended one of seven basic courses run each year, from the club at Upavon, with participants drawn from various service areas including a number of patients from DMRC Headley Court under the Battle Back scheme.
Battle Back exists to ensure that seriously injured personnel have access to the same opportunities in sport and adventurous training that are currently available to the able-bodied, with skiing and canoeing firm favourites.
The sport of gliding is well placed to give them the opportunity to participate on level terms with the able bodied - meaning the soldiers can leave their disabilities on the ground and fly their glider using specially modified controls.
A specially adapted K21 glider is available where the foot pedals are replaced with a hand lever, which means pilots with varying injuries, including amputees and other lower limb disabilities, can develop into competitive glider pilots flying against all-comers.
The recent course was blessed with good weather allowing the syllabus to be completed and the students to develop their flying. Four of the pilots progressed to fly their first solo flights, including triple amputee Private Kingsley Ward, Parachute Regiment, and Dale Messenger of the Royal Engineers, who is recovering from leg injuries.
For further information on Army Gliding and Battle Back, and to watch a video of Private Ward taking part in the course at Wyvern Gliding Club - follow the links on the right.