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Mike Steggles

14 Marina View,
Abbey Hill,
Netley Abbey,
Abbey Hill,
Hants, S031 5FB.

TEL/FAX 02380453564


A J Simpson Lt Col (Retd)
Secretary/General Manager
Hangar 3
Old Sarum Airfield
Wilts SP4 6BJ

Mike Steggles embarking

All aboard

Dear Jack,
I enclose a photo of myself in GUS to join your rogues' gallery as I wanted to write to you, also Fiona and Raymond from The Shadow Flight Centre, to tell you all how much my flying lessons mean to me.

As you know I have proteinanaemic polyneuropathy with steroid induced diabetes. Over the last seven years my life has radically changed and I could not have coped without a supportive wife and excellent medical attention.

A couple of years ago I was watching a BBC local television programme with Chris Conybere reporting on disabled microlight flying. I could not believe that someone disabled was flying by only sucking and blowing through a tube. I tracked down Chris Conybere, who told me the airfield was Old Sarum and APT was responsible, for what I had seen. You sent me literature on 27-09-00 and kept in touch until I took the great step forward. I could not start flying until this year as two operations under general anaesthetic and a course of chemotherapy put all my dreams on the back burner.

As I was now in "a carrot before the donkey" situation; I worked hard on my yoga and water aerobics and three months ago had my first flight, which was truly magical. I'll always remember the first words you said to me when we landed. "You have a big beaming smile on your face. I'm sure you will be back for more." Thank you for making my wife Mercia and myself so welcome. We both enjoyed the APT open day very much as it was great to meet other disabled flyers with their partners and hear of their experiences. I feel I have the easy part of the partnership as I only have to concentrate on my disability, whereas Mercia has not only to look after me but also do the physical work that I used to do. Old Sarum is a place which we can both enjoy as the able bodied flyers also make one welcome.

Re. the flying I can't really explain the feeling of great excitement, control and enjoyment that the lessons with Raymond afford me. All I know is that when Raymond says "let's rock and roll" and we take off in GUS, the motorbike of the sky, the world takes on a new dimension. To fly over Stonehenge and see the altar in the middle of the giant stones is entirely different to the view on the ground. To be told by Raymond to head towards Salisbury Cathedral to get my bearing for Old Sarum airfield, and I'm looking at what I think is a village church, is hilarious. To be told to watch out for a giant Chinook helicopter, which is flying at the same height as GUS, is awesome when I finally locate with Raymond's help what I think is a gigantic black beetle.

Because of my medical condition and medication, unlike many of your disabled flyers, I will not be able to obtain my licence to fly solo. However, half a cake is better than no cake and I am in for the long haul to follow the syllabus as closely as possible. Raymond is an excellent instructor and you do not feel disabled as you are taught to fly the same as an able bodied student. The only difference is that if I am having an off day he will still take me up to have a joyride with no work involved on my part.

Even my neurologist, who did not want me to drive a car, is amazed at the improvement I have made. I have forwarded details of APT to him, and I am sure that in due course you will have other students from Southampton General Hospital. We both sincerely hope that you will be able to continue the service that you are offering and obtain additional funds in order to expand your scholarship plans. Personally I am at the time of life where I can fund my own flying. But for somebody at an early stage in life the scholarship route may be the only way to fly. Until I meet The Great Biker Of The Sky long may I continue to fly at Old Sarum!!!

Kind regards.

Mike Steggles

And here's what his wife's got to say about it!