APT - Aviation for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics Charitable Trust

About the APT
What people say about us
Old Sarum Airfield
Achievers of the Year
APT Pilot's Flying Stories
APT Benefactors
APT Scholarships
How to find us
How to make a donation
Student feedback
Useful Links
[email protected]

News News News News News News News

October 2006
The Frances Crabtree Trust has granted us £450, for which we are very grateful, as always.

September 9th 2006
Rob Bryan, one of our quadriplegic students, has flown solo for the first time. Our congratulations to him and we look forward to him gaining his PPL.

September 9th 2006
With great sadness we had to say goodbye to (Lt. Col.) Jack Simpson, who has decided the time has come to retire. Our General Manager from its very formation, Jack's contribution to APT has been immense, administering the charity, tirelessly fundraising, keeping the mobile homes clean, meeting student pilots and their helpers, friends and families. Always there with a friendly smile we have been truly fortunate to have had him running the show for so long. A leaving party was held for Jack to thank him for his outstanding service to APT, and also to thank his wife, Ada, who has been a great support to him and to APT. They will be greatly missed.

March 2006
A flurry of donations this month, including £600 from Paul Fahey (one of many he has made over the years), £500 from Yvonne and Ian Martin, £1000 from David Cooke (another regular donor) and £100 from Bob and Diane Twitchin. Our thanks to all of them. Such generosity allows us to keep going.

February 2006
The Trustees announce that the winner of the Graham Norris Achievement Award for 2005/6, for an unprecedented second time, is Mike Watson, who has continued his steady progress towards a PPL.

December 12th 2005
Rachel Norris has made another generous donation of £500 to APT. Rachel has been a steadfast supporter of APT over many years, this being just one of many kind donations.

November 16th 2005
The Roger Brooke Charitable Trust generously donates £500 to APT. We are grateful to them for this generous donation, which will be used to fund our running costs.

November 2005
APT receives the wonderful news that the Big Lottery Fund is to provide £25,200 in funds over the next three years, commencing 1st April 2006. This will ensure our future and allow us to continue to fund more flying scholarships and free air experience flights. The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing about a half of all proceeds from the National Lottery. We are extremely grateful for this very generous donation.

4th August 2005

Salisbury Journal follows up its two generous awards (see below) with a centre page article about the APT.

7th-9th July 2005
The APT has another stand at the Mobility Roadshow at Donnington. Although we were competing with many other stands, a lot of interest was shown and hopefully we managed to spread the word about APT amongst the wider disabled community.

15th May 2005
G-SNEV, donated to APT in October 2003 by Neville Smart (see below), has found a good home! Two former APT PPL students, Robert Das and John Reed, have bought it. G-SNEV is already converted with hand controls, like G-MVUS.

9th April 2005
APT celebrates its 11th Anniversary. After last year's big celebrations it was heartening to see so many supporters of APT turning up once again. Mike Watson was presented with his Graham Norris Achiever of the Year Award by Graham's widow Rachel.

25th March 2005
APT receives a very generous donation of £3,000 from Four Acres Trust. This will be used to fund core dpending. Our thanks to them.

February 2005
The Trustees announce that the winner of the Graham Norris Achievement Award for 2004/5 is Mike Watson. Despite bing diagnosed with MS in March 1999, Mike has progressed rapidly with his flying, to the point of going solo. As he says "it's down to you and your efforts".

Many congratulations Mike.

16th December 2004
The Gannett Foundation has selected the APT from a number of local charities to receive £5,000. Click here for the story. The Trust are owners of the Salisbury Journal, which has already selected our General Manager, Lt. Col. Jack Simpson, as a winner in its charity fundraiser category of its Journal People Awards (see below). So we are particularly grateful for their support and recognition of what we are trying to achieve.

December 2004
Robert Das has passed his GFT, together with his ground school exams, and has thus been granted his PPL. Following injuries in a road traffic accident Robert requires sticks in order to get about but still manages to perform his demanding job as a surgeon. Our congratulations to him.

17th October 2004
Our General Manager, Jack Simpson has been selected a winner in the charity fundraiser category of the Salisbury Journal People Awards, in recognition of his tireless efforts to raise funds for APT. Without Jack's efforts there is no question we would never have survived five years, let alone these ten. A big thank you and our congratulations, Jack. Click here for the story.

24th June 2004
We receive a welcome visit by members of the Rotary Club of Salisbury. As well as expressing much interest in the work of APT the members all made very generous individual donations, which we greatly appreciate. Afterwards we received a kind letter from the Community Service Chairman, Adrian Crossley.

6th June 2004
Paul Sample Corporate Communications has given us a very generous donation of £1,000. Presenting us with the cheque, Paul Sample said,"Being up in the clouds looking down on the tiny world below can put your troubles into perspective. That's why our companies chose to make this gift." We greatly appreciate this donation, which will help to ensure more disabled people get a chance to experience flying. Click here for the story.

3rd April 2004
For its 10th Anniversary APT celebrated in style! A marquee, a jazz band, a visit by the Mayor of Salisbury, Bobbie Chettelburgh and attendance by over a hundred friends, supporters and students of the APT made this a day to remember. Hopefully it also helped raise APT's profile and helped ensure another 10 years just as successful as the first.

Robin Gibbons was presented with his well-deserved Graham Norris Achievement Award.
Click here to read Irma Skeeles' account of the celebrations.

February 2004
For attaining his PPL the Trustees decided on Robin Gibbons as the Graham Norris Achiever of the Year for 2003/2004. Many congratulations to him.

1st January 2004
APT learns to its delight that it is to receive a very welcome Christmas present! With fantastic generosity Neville Smart has donated his Shadow Streak microlight G-SNEV to APT. Having enjoyed flying it for many years, he wanted it to go to a good home. We are now deciding how best to use it.

27th December 2003
Awards for All England recognises APT's work with a second donation of £3,840. Awards for All is a Lottery grants scheme aimed at local communities, funding "projects that enable people to take part in art, sport, heritage and community activities, as well as projects that promote education, the environment and health in the local community". The money will help fund the 10th Anniversary Celebrations and spread awareness off APT's activities.

October 2003
Robin Gibbons, a former airline pilot who thought his flying days were over following a car accident that left him a paraplegic in a wheeelchair, has attained his PPL through the APT. What's more it only took him two years from his accident. Many congratulations, Robin.
Click here to read his account of his experiences..

12th-14th June 2003

APT has a stand at the Mobility Roadshow at Castle Donnington. On the opening day we are honoured by a visit by HRH Prince Phillip. The aim of the stand is to further awareness of the APT within the disabled community and amongst professionals working in the field and to promote the scholarships and free trial flights made possible by recent generous grants. The stand is a real success with a number of disabled people putting their names down for trial flights.
Jonathan Rudge explains Lima-Victor's controls to the Duke. He seems to have got the hang of it!

1st April 2003

The Community Fund (on behalf of the National Lottery) grants APT £37,510. Given the number of previous unsuccessful applications Jack has made to the Lottery and the date on which he received this marvellous news he might have been forgiven for thinking it was a cruel hoax. But no, it's true. They may have kept us waiting but we have no complaints about the size of the cheque!
The money will go towards 6 flying scholarships and 20 trial flights per year, allowing even more disabled people to experience the thrills and joys of flying. APT continues to go from strength to strength and is as busy as it has ever been but there is so much more we would like to offer.

15th March 2003
APT were awarded the Jim Parkinson Memorial Trophy by the British Disabled Flying Club in recognition of their outstanding work in respect of disabled flying. The Jim Parkinson Memorial Trophy was established to commemorate the achievements and the sad loss in a flying accident in June 2001 in Big Bear, California, of a true friend of the BDFC.

25th February 2003
The Community Foundation for Swindon and Wiltshire grants APT £3,000 annually for the years 2002-2004 : a total of £9,000 in recognition of our achievement over the last few years. This is to fund 7 trial flights and 2 scholarships per year. Many thanks to them for this very generous award. See their letter to APT following their visit to Old Sarum.

February 2003

For gaining his PPL (see below) David Collins was the unanimous choice for the 2002/3 Graham Norris Trophy. Well done to him. We hear that he is considering buying a plane in Ireland and look forward to the day he flies over to Old Sarum to pay us a visit. Click here to read his account.

15th November 2002

Raymond Proost was awarded the Disabled Coach of the Year Trophy by Wiltshire County Council at at informal gathering in Melksham. This was in recognition of his many hours of patient and good-humoured tuition and understanding of the needs of his disabled students. Many congratulations, Raymond, on this well-deserved trophy

15th July 2002

APT attended the Fly In at Brooklands where we had G-MYLV as a static display. Later in the day Graham Palmer, one of our successful PPLs, piloted G-MVUS to this famous airfield and race circuit. with the generous help of Mr & Mrs Neil Covey, who donated £2,000, APT managed to purchase equipment and leaflets that can be used at any future individual exhibitions and shows. The day was judged a tremendous success by all.

David Collins gains his PPL. David, who has MS, has shown particular dedication to his flying as he is a Dubliner! Like Sean Walshe before him he has had to make frequent journeys across the Irish Sea, fitting this all in with the demands of a full-time career. Yet again the mobile homes have demonstrated their value. Click here for an account of David's flying experiences.

30th June 2002
Lloyds TSB Foundations grant the APT £5,000 to be used to meet running costs (currently standing at over £25,000 per year for salaries, hangarage, insurance, maintenance, rent for the mobile homes, etc.) Many thanks to Lloyds TSB for this very generous and welcome donation.

February 2002

For gaining his PPL (see below) John Reed is selected as the recipient for this year's Graham Norris Trophy. Congratulations, John.

Another APT student pilot gains his PPL. John Reed, who is (appropriately enough) an aviation engineer and a paraplegic, adds his name to the board in Jack's office. Our congratulations to John who, like all our students, has worked hard to earn this privilege.

February 2001
It was decided at the quarterly Trustees' Meeting that, regrettably, the cost of a 30 minute Trial Flight must be increased to £35.

1st February 2001
Awards for All England recognises APT's work with a donation of £5,000. Awards for All is a Lottery grants scheme aimed at local communities, funding "projects that enable people to take part in art, sport, heritage and community activities, as well as projects that promote education, the environment and health in the local community" . The money will help fund the costs of flight training.

February 2000

This year's recipient of the Graham Norris Achievement Award is Jonathan Rudge, our first quadriplegic student pilot. Jonathan Rudge has persevered and continued to make progress, despite various setbacks, with his flying.


Ron Whitehouse gains his PPL. As he says in his moving letter, flying was a lifetime ambition that, because of spina bifida from birth, seemed destined to remain just a dream until he heard of the APT. Our congratulations to him on achieving his dream. Ron has, incidentally, helped to maintain the APT's fine tradition : with the sole exception of 1996 every year since 1995 has seen an APT pupil obtain a PPL. (1995 saw two such successes).
But we want to do better still, to help and encourage more disabled people to fly, irrespective of disability, age, sex or where they come from. This requires more funds and publicity. If you feel you can help in any way we'd be very glad to hear from you.

February 2000

For gaining his PPL (see below) Graham Palmer has been awarded the 1999/2000 Graham Norris Trophy. This is presented annually to the student who shows the greatest achievement in the year. Well done, Graham, it is richly deserved.

Graham Palmer, who became disabled as a result of polio, passes his GFT and achieves a boyhood ambition to obtain his Private Pilot's Licence. Many congratulations to him.

February 1999

For gaining his PPL Graeme Linskey has been awarded the 1998/99 Graham Norris Trophy. This is presented annually to the student who shows the greatest achievement in the year. Read his story at the 1998/99 Achievement Award presentation

November 1998
Mr Michael Zilka, Fund Raising Consultant, agreed to help APT with their future fund-raising.

17th August 1998
After a press release by Jack Simpson, Mr and Mrs Neil Covey visited APT at Old Sarum Airfield. They were delighted with what APT were doing with regard to teaching disabled people to learn to fly. It was not long before they sent a cheque for £18,000. We were then able to claim a further £5,376 under the Gift Aid Scheme from the Inland Revenue. The Chairman, Colonel Geoffrey Gilhead, wrote to thank them very much for their marvellous donation to APT.

Graeme Linskey, a paraplegic from the Isle of Man, has passed all the requirements to obtain his Pilot's Licence. As with all our students this has required hard work and dedication. Living where he does Graeme has had to travel long distances in order to learn to fly and has made full use of the mobile homes. Well done, Graeme.

February 1998

Sean Walshe has been awarded the 1997/98 Graham Norris Trophy. This is presented annually in April to the student who shows the greatest achievement in the year under review. In gaining his PPL Sean was the outstanding candidate and richly deserves it. We raise a pint of the black stuff to him!

January 1998
Everyone concerned with APT was surprised and saddened to learn that James Edmonds had decided he was no longer able to fund APT. While it was everyone's wish to try to find another source of funds to keep APT going, it was unanimously agreed only James' generosity had made the Trust possible from the outset. And we, also speaking on behalf of those who had benefited from APT, wished to record their deepest thanks.

Everyone sent James best wishes and hopes for his future. A thank you letter was sent.


A paraplegic 'ab-initio' student has just passed all the flight training, ground and air exams to obtain his PPL(A) microlight licence. Sean Walshe a businessman from Ireland, became our first intensive student and, overcoming a great many obstacles, showed the sort of commitment and determination that are required from any student pilot if they truly desire to gain a Pilot's Licence. See the new page "A Pilot's Dream Come True"

APT has had considerable success since June 1994 when we started as a going concern. Three students have obtained their Private Pilot's Licence and have been presented with their APT wings. At present there are 12 people with a whole range of disabilities learning to fly on an equal basis to the able bodied.

The trustees have recently revised the cost of the ASSESSMENT FLIGHT which lasts about 30 minutes. After the student has completed the assessment flight the instructor will be able to let them know if it is going to be worth them doing further training and vice versa. Before you book an assessment flight you are requested to contact our local Civil Aviation Authority Doctor (who is also a pilot) who knows exactly what is required on the medical side prior to pilot training.

Tel. 01722 710225

2nd November 1996
The APT holds it's first reunion of people who have been involved in the two aircraft owned by the charity. Not everyone was able to attend, but on a wet and blustery afternoon 12 people, some with their helpers, turned up at Old Sarum to share experiences and a fine buffet meal laid on by Old Sarum Flying Club. Although it wasn't suitable to fly, we all had a good time and look forward to the next one!

Disabled pilots, and officials of the APT

October 1996
It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Graham Norris after a long and (typically) courageous fight against cancer. Our heartfelt condolences to his wife Rachel and his family.
As a tribute to our first PPL the Trustees of APT have instituted the Graham Norris Achievement Award to be awarded annually to the student adjudged to have achieved the most in any given year. We hope it will be a fitting tribute to an outstanding individual who showed how much can be achieved despite disability if you put your mind to it.
For an obituary of Graham and the announcement of the award click here.

2nd September 1996
One of our tetraplegic students, Jonathan Rudge, who had previously no experience of flying, went solo. This was a tremendous achievement as he had persevered throughout the last year not only to learn how to fly but also to gain enough strength in his arms to operate the aircraft controls safely on his own. This event shows what can be done through dogged determination and sensitive assistance when required.

Jonathan Rudge, APT's first ab-initio to solo tetraplegic student

April 1996

APT takes delivery of and installs 2 mobile homes, originally purchased from Pemberton Homes of Wigan. The mobile homes are housed only a short distance from the APT hangar and are fully adapted for wheelchair users. They will provide comfortable, low-cost accommodation for student pilots living throughout the UK and abroad. This is another major milestone for APT. Click here for further details.

September 1995
After barely a year in existence 2 APT student pilots, Graham Norris and Ian MacLucas, both paraplegics, have passed their GFTs (General Flying Tests) and all their ground-based exams thus attaining their PPL (A) Microlight licences. Many congratulations to them on this fantastic achievement!

August 1994
Much to our surprise and gratitude we received the gift of a hoist from David & John Watling of the Mobility Aids Centre in Peterborough. Our deepest thanks for their remarkable generosity. The hoist will make a huge difference.

May 1994
Thanks principally to the exceptional generosity of businessman James Edmunds the charity Aviation for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics comes into existence. It is based at Old Sarum in the same hangar as the Shadow Flight Centre, the Shadow having been recognised from the beginning as the obvious choice for teaching the whole range of disabilities because of its accessibility, comfort, ease of flying and remarkable safety. All our instruction and maintenance is carried out by Fiona Luckhurst and Raymond Proost of the Shadow Flight Centre. We couldn't be in better hands!
Trustees are appointed, chosen carefully to give a sound balance of experience and expertise in terms of flying, medical knowledge, disability, technical and management skills. Lt. Colonel Jack Simpson (Retired) is appointed General Manager. With his outstanding Army record as officer, quartermaster and RSM, amongst other things, APT can be said to have got off to a flying start!