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Microlight pilot reaches Australia

A paraplegic microlight pilot has reached Australia after a three-month record-breaking solo journey from England.

Dave Sykes, 43, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, landed in Truscott, on Australia's north-west coast - 103 days after he left York on April 28.

Mr Sykes, who broke his back in a motorbike accident in 1993, is the first paraplegic to fly from England to Australia in a microlight.

The 12,000-mile journey has seen the pilot fly over shark-infested waters and hostile terrain, face bad weather and long sea and desert crossings and take in 20 different countries.

The journey has helped raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Speaking to ABC News in Darwin, Mr Sykes said: "I started flying 10 years ago and saw a video of a guy who flew around the world and I've always wanted to do something similar so I decided on Australia because I couldn't afford to fly around the world."

He continued: "It's been really difficult at times with the bad weather, permissions holding me up, things going wrong with the aircraft."

Mr Sykes was on his way to work on a motorbike when he was hit by a car in November 1993. He was given a 30% chance of survival after breaking his back, clavicle, thigh bone and ribs, suffering two punctured lungs and losing the feeling in his right arm.

But he was released from hospital in May 1994 after doctors said he would be there for at least two years.

Mr Sykes took up microlighting in 2000 and got his licence in 2001. He flies a specially adapted aircraft with modified controls enabling him to fly without the use of his legs. He is continuing his journey to Sydney.


From Belfast Telegraph