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High-flyers with sensory loss take to the air!

Two young deaf people and two young people with sight loss will get a chance to experience the thrill of flying a plane this Thursday

Taking off from Dundee Airport, the four youngsters will sit beside an experienced pilot in a small dual-control Piper Warrior plane used for teaching novice-flyers.

The group is made up of Charlie (15) and Scott (11) who are partially sighted. They will be joined by Brooke (12) and Josie (12), two deaf children who are all looking forward to the event.

Charlie, from Musselburgh, has severe amblyopia in his left eye, resulting in about 15 per cent vision. Scott, from Edinburgh, has bilateral pseudophakia following surgery for congenital cataracts, and also nystagmus and farsightedness with astigmatism.

Brooke (12), who comes from Falkirk, was born profoundly deaf and is very active, enjoying cycling, swimming and football amongst many other activities. Josie, from Stenhousemuir, has unilateral deafness and got her first hearing-aid aged around four. Josie (12) competes internationally in Highland Dancing and is also a member of Falkirk Victoria Harriers Running Club.

The opportunity comes thanks to Flying Aces, a scheme set up by the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, and funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, whereby young people from disadvantaged or disabled backgrounds can experience the thrill of flight.

Group Captain Jim Leggat, Regional Commandant for the Air Cadets in Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “We encourage young people to think: If I can fly an aeroplane is there anything in life I can’t do? The exercise is about getting them to control the aircraft as much as possible. They will be flying to the extent that any youngster - Air Cadet or not, disabled or not - is asked to.

"While, ultimately, it’s a matter for the instructor’s judgement, the young people will have a chance to pull back on the control column and feel the aircraft rising. They will also experience turning, flying level, climbing and descending.

"We know that blind and partially-sighted flyers are likely to get much more out of the experience than those who do have sight. They 'feel' flight and appreciate the various gravitational and other forces acting on the aircraft that are often lost on others. We hope they have a great day in the air.

Jane Coates from RNIB Scotland said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for more of our young people to try something they might otherwise have never been given the chance to do, because of their sight loss. What youngster wouldn't be thrilled to fly a plane alongside a pilot used to teaching novices? Flying Aces have gone out of their way to make this dream a reality."

Jacquie Winning MBE, chief executive of Forth Valley Sensory Centre, added: “Brooke and Josie both attend our Friday Youth Group and are very bright and fun loving children. Flying Aces really supports our own ethos in building confidence and helping people to be as independent as possible. Having a sight or hearing impairment should not be a barrier to opportunity and we are delighted for all those taking part.”