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Sportability flying day to be held at APT Old Sarum Airfield.
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APT & Sportability
Having regard to the fact that your recent application for grant aid to the National Lotteries Community Fund has been declined it is perhaps timely that I should write to you and place on record the pleasure, success, and satisfaction I have personally enjoyed during the 4 years in which I have been associated with APT.
You will be aware from our conversations that from an early age it was my ultimate career ambition to become a commissioned flying officer in the Royal Navy or the Royal Air force. Being disabled from birth with spina bifida this was never in reality, a realistic aspiration.
Having carried this disappointment with me throughout my life it was with considerable excitement that in 1998 I became aware of the existence of APT and its unique facilities. As you know, 18 months of Training followed culminating in the granting of my Pilot's Licence in 2000. To press I have logged something approaching 60 hours flying time at Old Sarum.
It has taken me over 50 years to realise my ambition to fly and it has only now been possible with the support of APT, its modified aircraft, and non-patronising and very supportive instructors. It has been rare in my life to be viewed by society as anything other than an unfortunate human being with severe limitations. It is therefore a refreshing change to be seen as a competent professional person in an environment which is seen to demand high levels of fitness and intellect, something not normally associated with physical disability. To my certain knowledge no other comparable facility exists within 100 miles of my home and were the organisation to cease operating at Old Sarum my flying career would also effectively cease, along with a number of others in a similar position.
Even with my new found skills and expertise I think it unlikely at this stage my life that I will be offered a commission in the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force. However, the enjoyment and satisfaction I derive from flying around Wiltshire & Dorset in "GUS", sometimes in the company of my wife, goes a long way to compensate.
Some elements of my professional life bring me into contact with considerable numbers of disabled people with spinal injuries and other neurological conditions inhibiting mobility and movement, I am thus all too familiar with the emotionally damaging effects of such disabling conditions, leading as it often does to low self confidence, self respect and self esteem.
No one who spends anytime at all at Old Sarum can fail to notice the dramatic changes that most APT trainees undergo. Within weeks of first contact there is a palpable increase in self awareness, self confidence, self esteem and "can do" mentality. I can think of no better rehabilitation programme than this, crucial to individuals seeking to rediscover themselves as human beings after coming to terms with a traumatic experience in their lives. It is also worthy of note that within our limitations, all of us are compelled by the Civil Aviation Authority to maintain our health to a level which meets the requirements of the annual medical examination associated with a Pilots Licence. I have personally found this to be a significant motivator in maintaining my own health and fitness regime, perhaps to a higher level than might otherwise have been the case.
In conclusion I have to say that it has been a privilege to be associated with APT and I would like to place on record my heartfelt appreciation and thanks for all that you have done for me.
R H Whitehouse
©1994 - 2008 The Aviation for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics Trust. Registered Charity No. 1037768
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