VIDEO: Blackbushe abuzz for Aldrin simulator stintBy Laura Nightingale
October 09, 2012
A HERO to many space fans, Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin visited Blackbushe Airport this week to take part in a world record attempt that will change the lives of disabled people.
Buzz, 82, the second man to walk on the moon, joined other celebrities as part of a 10-day, non-stop, round-the-world flying mission in a flight simulator to raise money for the flying charity, Aerobility.
During his visit, the retired American told crowds who his heroes were growing up and how enjoyable it was to take part in the simulator challenge despite being used to much faster speeds.
Buzz said: “I willingly fitted this into my schedule.
“It’s a lot of fun flying a simulator even though I am used to faster speeds than 110 knots.
“I grew up as a teen in World War II and I knew a number of aviators that my father knew.”
He said the simulator was “just the kind of thing” needed to build confidence in the abilities of those with handicaps.
Buzz was one of 100 pilots flying the 22,000 nautical mile circumnavigation of the globe in a bid to raise £100,000 for Aerobility, the UK charity that gives disabled people the chance to fly aeroplanes.
The simulator used in the record attempt is on loan, but the Blackbushe charity hopes to raise the money to buy it and maintain it for five years so disabled student pilots can benefit from it.
The simulator allows people with weak, missing or prosthetic limbs to acclimatise to the aircraft physical environment, without the serious expense of actual flight.
Jon Windover, chairman of Aerobility, said: “The challenge has been going extremely well. The pilots are flying across the globe from the west to the east.
“We started last Friday [October 5] and we aim to finish on Sunday.
“Buzz has shown a real interest in Aerobility and the work that we do.
“The record attempt has been closed to the public, but people can come and visit Blackbushe to find out about flying.”
Mike Miller-Smith, chief executive of Aerobility, said to have an aviation icon such as Buzz taking part was “out of this world”.
Other well-known names who became pilots in the record attempt this week included ex-England rugby star Rory Underwood, Andy Green, the world land speed record holder, comedian Joe Pasquale, TV and radio broadcaster Chris Evans, and Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG.
Sir Stephen Dalton, chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force, Aldershot MP Gerald Howarth, round-the-world balloon pilot Brian Jones and Red Arrows squadron leader Mike Ling also took part.