Air traffic controllers' Big Pull to give disabled flying charity a huge push

Tuesday 11th October 2011 .

It may be one of the slowest events ever to take place at the historic Goodwood motor racing circuit, but The Big Pull is set to bring rapid rewards to Aerobility, the British charity that facilitates light aviation for disabled and profoundly ill adults and children.

Teams of air traffic controllers and their managers aim to raise a remarkable £100,000 towards the acquisition of a Piper Archer aircraft for the charity which would be equipped with specific features to support disabled fliers.

They will be sponsored to pull a vintage Second World War aircraft on a course down the main straight at Goodwood after the air traffic control officers’ branch of the union Prospect and the UK’s leading air traffic services provider NATS came together to support Aerobility as their adopted charity.

Aerobility will benefit from a series of fund-raising projects and events organised by NATS and the controllers in the year ahead, with The Big Pull on 3rd June 2012 as the highlight. The previous evening there will be a gala dinner and charity auction at Goodwood House. Prospect members can also opt to donate as much as an entire working shift’s pay with tax benefits under a Gift a Shift scheme supported by NATS.

Last year through Aerobility 350 disabled people experienced trial instructed flights, 15 disabled people went solo and five completed either PPL or NPPL qualifications. These people had every conceivable disabling condition from spinal injury, amputation and multiple sclerosis through to learning and sensory disabilities. They ranged in age from 12 to 92 years old, and in background from school children to wounded service personnel.

Prospect ATCOs’ branch officer, Mr Chris Edwards said:

“As an absolutely terrific aviation charity, Aerobility is an obvious choice for us to direct our efforts towards. The Big Pull will be a great challenge for everyone involved and we look forward to beating the team of NATS executives who are taking part!

“We’re extremely grateful to the management at Goodwood Aerodrome for supporting the event.”

NATS CEO Richard Deakin said:

“Aerobility has achieved a fantastic amount already in getting so many people airborne who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to experience the pleasures of flying an aircraft. It’s a great pleasure to direct our fund-raising efforts at NATS towards helping Aerobility move on to the next stage in its development.”

Aerobility CEO Mike Miller Smith said:

“Growing the organisation to meet demand has not been easy in recent times. Working with NATS is going to give us the ability to support more disabled people around the UK and to grow the Aerobility family into an even more effective social project. It’s wonderful to get this kind of support from inside the aviation community, working with both the employer and employees that manage the skies above us. It would be hard to find a more fitting partnership.”

About Aerobility


1. Aerobility is a British charity (reg. 1081804) that introduces the gift of flight to disabled people

2. The charity was founded in 1993 and until 2010 was called the British Disabled Flying Association (‘BDFA’)

3. Aerobility achieved charitable status in 2000

4. Aerobility flight training is regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (“CAA”)

5. Aerobility is a User Led Organisation (“ULO”) and provides advice, knowledge and advocacy for disabled people who wish to fly, and is the representative body for disabled aviation within the UK.

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