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Flying Blind to Australia (Hardback)

The Astounding Story of the Microlight Flight of a Blind Man and Sighted Pilots from the UK to Sydney

Aviation > Aircraft Aviation > Pilots Military > By Century > 21st Century P&S History > British History P&S History > Social History

By Richard Meredith-Hardy, Brian Milton
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399042505
Published: 30th June 2024


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At 23.00 hours on a wintry Sunday evening in March 2007, a blind man called Miles Hilton Barber telephoned Brian Milton and asked: ‘Would you be my “sighted” pilot on a microlight flight to Australia, starting at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning?’

Miles, known as MHB, was the son of a wartime Rhodesian fighter pilot. He had been blind for twenty-five years, but made his living taking on improbable adventures, funded by giving inspirational talks to corporate sponsors. The original ‘sighted’ pilot, Storm Smith, a former major in the British Army who had served with the SAS, had helped convince the giant Standard Chartered Bank to fund this adventure. The flight was to be the backdrop to a series of talks MHB was to deliver to blind children across half of the world. Not only was MHB aiming to demonstrate to them that being blind should never be a barrier to achieving their goals, but he was also intending to raise at least a million US dollars at the same time.

When Smith dropped out at 22.00 hours the night before they were due to leave, MHB was shattered. His plans, and the hopes of many, lay in tatters. An hour later, he phoned Brian Milton.

A former BBC Radio journalist and later a TV presenter, Brian also did adventures, becoming the first man to fly a microlight around the world in 1998. When MHB rang him, Brian Milton was writing a book to clear his debts, and suggested Richard Meredith-Hardy, as an alternative. Meredith-Hardy, an Old Etonian, had made the first flight over Everest in a microlight, but could not meet MHB’s tight deadline.

So, at just forty-eight hours’ notice, with just fifteen minutes experience on a new type of microlight the bank had funded, Milton flew MHB across the Channel and cobbled together a route over the Alps via Italy and Greece to Cyprus, from where Meredith-Hardy joined the flight as the ‘sighted’ pilot on the remainder of the adventure to Australia.

In this insightful and moving account, both Milton and Meredith-Hardy reveal their dramatic parts in what was a truly thrilling and awe-inspiring flight.

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About Richard Meredith-Hardy

RICHARD MEREDITH-HARDY is a British extreme microlight pilot. He has been flying microlights since 1984, was twice World Microlight Champion and has held a variety of speed records. Notable flights undertaken by Richard include the first flight over Mount Everest in a microlight craft and a 12,500-mile journey from London to Harare in Zimbabwe – a flight not that much shorter than the one to Australia. In 2001, Richard was awarded the Gold Medal by the Royal Aero Club of the UK.

About Brian Milton

BRIAN MILTON is an award-winning adventurer, journalist and aviation historian. He holds the Guinness World Record for the first circumnavigation of the globe in a microlight aircraft, achieved in 1998. The flight earned him the Britannia Trophy, one of the world’s greatest aviation awards. This achievement was even more remarkable given the fact that Brian survived a 250-foot fall while testing a prototype powered hang glider in 1978, which gave him a fear of flying. For more information, please see www.brian-milton.uk.

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Click here to buy both titles for £35.00
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