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Blind Teenagers Flying Planes

March 12, 2019

If you are blind or visually impaired the chance to take the controls of a plane might seem like an impossible dream, yet a scheme run by air cadets in Scotland is giving young people the chance to do just that.

The idea of “Flying Aces” is to persuade a range of young people to consider that if they can “fly” a plane, maybe they can do anything.

Fourteen-year-old Taylor, who has been blind since birth, is taking to the skies in a small four-seater plane.

He is about to do something he never thought he could.

With Dundee and the sweep of the Tay visible below, the pilot asks: “Are you ready to take control?”

Taylor nods.

Afterwards he says: “It’s been quite cool how I have control of the plane.

“It’s been interesting because I’ve got to know how to move it left and right, up and down.”

Taylor thinks his friends might be “impressed and “a bit jealous”.

He has surprised himself and it has got him talking about the future a bit.

“I want to help blind people with technology,” he says.

“Just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you can’t do different stuff, because I just went in and took control of a plane.”

This is the type of dual-controlled plane in which anyone could learn to fly and instructors judge on the individual how the flight goes.

The idea is for the young person to take as much control as possible, but an experienced pilot is always alongside them.

 

“It’s a thrill but also I think it gives people self-belief and confidence,” says Gp Capt Jim Leggat, regional commandant for the Air Training Corps Scotland and Northern Ireland Region.

“If they can experience flying what else can they do in life?

“I think it gives them that boost.”

Another of the young people who has taken the controls of a plane is 17-year-old Kyle, who is partially sighted.

“It was really good fun, it was amazing, it was awesome,” he says of something he also thought he would not be able to do.

“It gives me more confidence to go and do other things.”

This has been one of a number of different days and flights which have benefited a range of youngsters.

“Going up in an aeroplane, taking the controls, who gets a chance to do that?” says Jacqui Winning of the Forth Valley Sensory Centre.

“You certainly wouldn’t think a blind person could do that but we’ve proven today that they can and that’s an amazing thing.”

 

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