ABOVE: Now in their 40th year, the charity has helped almost 400 individuals to date

 A group of Trustees and supporters from Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP) have embarked on a mission to visit over 40 airfields around the country to celebrate the charity’s 40th anniversary.

The ‘Big Wing’ tour is taking place this June with aircrews setting out from their local airfields to fly routes covering most of the country, joined by former FSDP scholars who will also be flying stages of the tour.

FSDP was set up in 1983 by the late Paul Bowe and Tim Prince, founders of the Royal International Air Tattoo, to celebrate the life of Sir Douglas Bader. An outstanding aviator, Sir Douglas resumed his RAF career after losing both his legs and achieved fame in the Second World War as a fighter pilot, leader and “dedicated supporter of disabled people, to whom he set an outstanding example of courage and perseverance”.

Ian Revell, Vice-Chair of FSDP, has already ventured as far north as the Orkney Islands in Scotland as part of the venture to “raise the profile of FSDP and Douglas Bader’s achievements to inspire and encourage those with a disability to apply for one of our scholarships,” adding his hopes that interested individuals will also have the opportunity to “learn to fly, join our support network and change their lives for the better”.

Charles LindBeargh set off from Liverpool with Vice Chairman Ian

Other locations visited on the inaugural leg of Monday 12 June included Liverpool, Eshott, Prestwick, Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, Perth, Dundee, Lossiemouth, Inverness and Wick. The second leg departed Gloucester for a variety of English and Welsh locations, accompanied by a number of disabled scholars. Further flights will continue throught June and cover the South East, North of UK, Midlands and Northern Ireland.

Joining the Trustees and scholars are a number of additional airborne supporters: the mission’s main mascot, Douglas Bearder, accompanied by Chelsey ‘Sully’ SullenBEARger and and Charles LindBeargh.

To date, the Fairford-based charity has helped almost 400 people with a range of disabilities and illnesses “change their lives by experiencing the joy of freedom in the air, learning new skills and regaining their confidence,” and more information can be found here.