Flying leaves Albert on cloud nine
A former Royal Highland Fusilier who lost his left leg above the knee has won a scholarship to learn to fly. Albert Thomson, 53, from Lincolnshire, has been working towards his Private Pilot Licence with Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP), which was established in memory of Sir Douglas Bader.
FSDP aims to give people with disabilities the chance to realise their full potential through the challenge of learning to fly. The charity has trained more than 400 people since it was set up in 1983.
After completing an application and interview process, Albert was awarded the scholarship in June and began his flying training at the Bristol Aero Club at Gloucestershire Airport on 15 August.
“I’ve always been interested in flying and came across the charity 10 years ago, but back then I didn’t have the time,” said Albert. “I get 16 hours of flying as part of the three-week course and need a minimum of 45 hours to obtain my Private Pilot Licence. My goal is to be able to fly independently anywhere in the world.”
Albert is one of 13 people to be awarded the scholarship this year, which covers the cost of flying training, ground school, accommodation and meals. Each student learns to fly in either a PA-28 or a Microlight aircraft, and each tutored flight lasts roughly one hour.
“It was quite frightening at first, but it quickly became exciting when I was able to see above the cloud base,” said Albert. “I’m at the stage where I can get into the plane, do all the Albert is working towards getting his Private Pilot Licence so he can fly on his own checks, and take off. I can fly in a circuit, but my landing isn’t quite there yet – that’s what I need to concentrate on next. There’s a lot of brain work involved. It’s exhausting but it’s a good feeling and very worthwhile.”
Anyone interested in applying for the course should visit www.fsdp.co.uk