Blind Pilot Flies From London to Sydney

Flying a tiny Microlight aircraft across the world through snow and over ocean would test the courage and skills of anyone. However, Miles Hilton-Barber, a blind British adventurer, today has completed an epic 21 700 km flight from London to Sydney in what friends called “a motorbike in the sky”.

“It’s the fulfillment of an amazing dream. I’ve been wanting to do this flight for about four years,” he said.

“I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid. Now I’m totally blind and I’ve had the privilege of flying more than halfway around the world.”

Hilton-Barber said after a victory pass over Sydney’s sparkling harbour and Opera House in perfect morning weather. “The big thing is not me flying to Australia but thousands of blind children around the world are going to see again through this flight,” told Miles Hilton-Baker to journalists at Sydney’s Bankstown airport. Barber also has a special message to Japan.

Mr Hilton-Barber, who went blind 25 years ago, is hoping the trip will raise $2.5 million for the charity Seeing is Believing, which works for the prevention of blindness in developing countries.

He flew with a sighted co-pilot and uses revolutionary speech output from navigation instruments to steer a course for his customised hang glider-like plane.

He told a Japanese journalist how much he would lost his way without the technology of Japan. “To Japan, hey wonderful, thank you Japan and most of the equipment in my house comes from Japan so I would be lost without your digital technology, top marks for Japan and I love Honda motor cars,” said a cheerful Barber.

The 58-year-old from Derby is the first blind pilot to fly a motorized hanglider more than halfway round the world, crossing 21 countries on a 55-day journey which began at Biggin Hill airfield, near London, on March 7. The father of three passed over Europe, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia, following the route taken by the classic 1919 London to Sydney Air Race. – Reuters

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