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Wounded pilots in Pole challenge

A team of injured servicemen and women is set to attempt the world's first microlight flight across the South Pole in a "wonderful" adventure that will help them feel free, their patron says.

The seven-strong team of wounded pilots will brave temperatures as low as minus 30C (minus 22F) as they fly the lightweight, propeller-powered small aircraft for more than 3,000 miles in a round-trip over Antarctica.

The Flying for Freedom challenge will achieve three world firsts that have not been completed by anyone, disabled or not - the first flexible wing flight in Antarctica, the first over the South Pole and the first over the continent's highest mountain, 16,050ft Mount Vinson.

The squadron's patron Lord Jones described the expedition as "wonderful".

"Freedom is a lot of different things to a lot of different people but if you've suffered a horrendous injury in the service of your country, you don't feel free," said Lord Jones, who bought the team their training microlight.

He went on: "Suddenly you're utterly dependent on other people, the things you used to do you can't do, your morale goes down and your self-respect goes down.

"So to achieve the freedom again, it's a big psychological heave and part of that is teamwork, part of that is technology and part of it is a sense of achievement that you've done something.

"To do something which no one has ever done before, able-bodied or not, it's wonderful.

"What freedom means in this case is setting peoples' mindset free, and then setting an example that freedom, the thing they actually got injured in the name of, can actually mean something very personal to them."

The team will set off in 2014, after completing their pilot and cold weather training. They are carrying out the expedition in partnership with the Help For Heroes charity for wounded servicemen and women and are seeking an extra £1.2 million to help them complete their challenge.


From Belfast Telegraph