Those of us who fly airplanes are familiar with the term "flying blind"; however, earlier this year new meaning was brought to the term. A Derbyshire blind man, Miles Hilton-Barber, who is 59 years old and has been blind for over 20 years flew an English jet aircraft supersonic!
Over the years the adventurer holds several records, including a record for flying a microlight (ultralight aircraft) from London to Sydney, Australia with a sighted co-pilot. He used speech-output technology to fly the 100hp microlight. Among his other accomplishments are a 150 mile trek across the desert in the Marathon des Sables from the Gobi desert to the Great Wall of China, completing more than 40 sky dives and circumnavigating the world using 80 different forms of transportation and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Mr. Hilton-Barber uses his experiences to inspire others as a corporate motivational speaker, and is involved in an organization known as "Seeing is Believing" which raises money to help blind people regain their sight. On March 30th, 2008 Hilton-Barber flew a English Electric Lightning jet aircraft over Cape Town, South Africa, climbing to 50,000 feet in just under two minutes. He then accelerated the aircraft to 1,100 mph becoming the first blind pilot to fly supersonic. Mr. Hilton-Barber said ""The rush was incredible. It was just wonderful. Of course, I couldn't see anything but my co-pilot told me that when we flying upside down at 50,000ft. You could see the curve of the earth. We were flying at around one-and-a-half times the speed of sound." In August of 2007 Hilton-Barber flew a Hawker Hunter jet accompanied by a Red Arrows pilot setting a new world speed record over Kemble, Glouceestershire, England at over 600 mph.
This sure brings new meaning to the term "flying blind", doesn't it? Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7