Camberley's Aerobility launches Paralympic Games
By mattcollison | Thursday, August 30, 2012, 12:36
A CAMBERLEY firm was behind the spectacular flyover at the Paralympic Games opening ceremony.
An Aerobility light aircraft was used in the Games' aerial display. Photo by Paul Johnson.
The aircraft soared above the Olympic Stadium in the nighttime flyover. Photo by Paul Johnson.
Disabled ex-serviceman David Rawlins flew the plane.
Aerobility, a disabled flying charity based at Blackbushe Airport, taught ex-serviceman David Rawlins who performed the dramatic flight over the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night (August 29).
Lance corporal Rawlins was in the cockpit of the firm's twin-engined Tecnam P2006 light aircraft which soared over an 80,000-strong crowd, kicking off proceedings with a pyrotechnic display.
At 8.30pm the neon-lit plane trailblazed through the night sky with wing-tip pyro-dispensers as Lance Cpl Rawlins, who is recovering from injuries sustained in Afghanistan, broadcast from the cockpit: "If you put your mind to it, you can do it."
Mike Miller Smith, Aerobility chief executive, said the charity was delighted to have played a central role in the historic event.
He said: "We are completely thrilled. It's such an honour to have opened the ceremony with such an amazing spectacle. It was actually the first night-time air display and the first disabled pilot air display using pyrotechnics over a capital city. It really was an incredible night."
Mr Miller Smith added: "David had to do quite a bit of training and practice for the opening ceremony and learn how to fly a twin engined aeroplane as well. He had to do a lot of work."
Lance Cpl Rawlins joined the Army in 2004 as a vehicle mechanic. But four years ago his right leg was shattered in Afghanistan just a week before the end of his seven month tour.
He underwent three years' rehabilitation at Headley Court before Aerobility offered him a trial flight in April 2011.
The ex-serviceman, who gained his pilots' licence earlier this year, said: "Since being involved with Aerobility I have been lucky enough to meet such a nice group of people, everyone always makes you feel welcome and I've been able to have first hand experience on seeing what a difference Aerobility makes to a disabled persons life.
"The future is clear for me now, I have been bitten by the aviation bug and I want to continue to fly and help out with Aerobility.
"I am about to begin a new job in Aircraft Operations and I could not have done this without Aerobility."