An aircraft engineer took to the Goodwood skies as he became the first amputee to fly a Spitfire since World War Two aces Douglas Bader and Colin ‘Hoppy’ Hodgkinson.
Sargent Alan Robinson is the first of two successful candidates in The Spitfire Scholarship – a private initiative supported by Prince Harry and the Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund and run by the Boultbee Flight Academy – to complete the goal.
In 2011, Alan was involved in a motorcycle accident and as a result had his right leg amputated above the knee.
A lover of all things aviation, Alan feared that this would end his long held dream of becoming a pilot.
Alan said: “A little over five years ago I woke up in a hospital bed to find my leg gone.
“The simple things previously taken for granted were to become the greatest challenge, such as walking.
“I was sure I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike again and thought that gaining a pilot’s license would be out of the question.
“I thought being unable to achieve my dream would probably be a regret that would haunt me for the rest of my life.”
The Spitfire Scholarship – also supported by Rolls-Royce and Scott Investment Partners – draws inspiration from Douglas Bader, who flew during the Second World War and amassed 20 individual aerial victories despite losing both his legs in a flying accident in 1931.
The scheme is intended to motivate those who have a disability to go on to achieve great things; to prove ability rather than disprove disability – a theme that is key to the Endeavour Fund.
Matt Jones, managing director of Boultbee Flight Academy, said: “We conceived the idea of the scholarship three years ago and had immediate support from the Endeavour Fund and particularly Prince Harry.
“Picking the two successful scholars from the exceptional field of candidates that applied was very difficult indeed.
“However Alan’s impassioned and emotional closing interview set him apart from the rest.
“Two years later and having been a part of his journey, to watch an initially extremely inexperienced pilot now soloing the Spitfire is one of the highlights of my own flying career – especially seeing what it meant to him.”
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.chichester.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChichesterObserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @Chiobserver
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Chichester Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.