Fancy learning to fly? (If you're first thought is to list the reasons why not, have a read of this first!)


A few of you may have noticed comments I’ve made on other people’s posts, saying that I’m going to be learning to fly. Well, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it and see if it tempts you.

I’ve been lucky enough to get a scholarship with a charity called Flying Scholarships for Disabled People ( - they obviously take the Ronseal approach to naming things). I remember someone posting something about the charity on this forum ages ago. Now, I’ve never been afraid of flying. I actually quite enjoy it. But my first thought was that it sounded terrifying - I’m perfectly happy to be a passenger, but sitting in the pilot’s seat was far too much responsibility, and too big a risk. So I did nothing about it.

But a few things happened last year which really exposed a lot of the fears, insecurities & self identity issues I have in life. I never really thought I was any good at anything, or could be capable of achieving anything, and I have a massive fear of failure. So I’ve always kept myself in the comfort zone where it’s safe, and my inabilities wouldn’t be exposed. It’s like I’ve sat in the passenger seat of life, always relying on others to be in the driver’s seat. I’ve become over reliant on having others around who can take responsibility, and take care of me somehow, step in and rescue me if things go wrong. And this only increased more since getting MS & needing a wheelchair.

But I began to realise how rubbish this made me feel about myself, and I wanted to start changing this. That’s when I remembered about the charity, and I thought maybe it would be a really good thing to try & do. Inevitably I still put off applying for it for a while, but eventually I got my application in just before the deadline. I got shortlisted, and went for an assessment for it with a couple interviews (which are definitely NOT about trying to impress them with all your achievements like you’re on The Apprentice - they just want to get to know you. If anything, listing a load of amazing things you’ve done will probably make you less likely to get a place, as the scholarships are about empowering you. Randomly, one of the interviews had Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame in it, as he’s a patron of the charity). A few days later I found out I was one of the lucky few (there’s 11 of us doing it this year, with a whole range of different disabilities - like people with spinal cord injuries & a whole bunch of illnesses I’d never heard of.

Now here I am, coming towards the end of my scholarship. And I’m so, so glad I decided to go for it! I was really worried about how tiring it would be. Like many of us, I can get fatigued easily. I nearly turned down the scholarship as I was scared that I would overdo it and end up paying the price. But, while it is tiring (especially at first), I’ve adapted much better than I was expecting. I’ve been able to get into the flow and routine of it, and there’s plenty of time to rest anyway. And my instructors are really great too. They’re very understanding & supportive, and very happy to work round my energy levels. There’s been a couple days where I finished early as I was feeling knackered, and that’s not been a problem at all.

It was probably more tiring at first as well, because it was more emotionally challenging - there were lots of times when I was rubbish at something and couldn’t get the knack of it, so I wanted to avoid having to do it. I thought I’d never really be able to fly, and was terrified at the idea of ever going solo, even if my instructors thought me capable.

But I reminded myself of why I applied in the first place. And after we had a 9 day break, I came back wanting to practice & get better, instead of dreading having to do things. Then on Sunday, we landed after a short flight, my instructor got out of the plane, and said he was sending me up solo. I’m glad he sprung it on me as it meant I didn’t have time to start getting afraid! So I taxied to the end of the runway, took off and, happily, landed again. And I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe how far I’d come, in what was just 22 short flights, given how panicked I felt at first.

My confidence & self-belief now is so much higher. It’s like I don’t need to be afraid of things any more. (I’ve always said I believed in a God who’s meant to believe in me &tells us not to fear, but I knew I never really believed it deep down, so it’s nice to really believe it for once!)

So if you think you want a dose of empowering, I highly recommend applying for it. Or if you have any questions about it, let me know.



brilliant! well done you-mega!

i once read a book (when i could see properly!) called feal the fear and do it anyway-brill book!

congrats again on your achievment!


Well done you, sounds amazing. I used to paraglide, i love the freedom up there, happy times,

Well done!! What an inspiring post!

I like to keep my feet firmly on the ground but i hope your post inspires other people to give new things a try.

I have a passion for reading and would love to try to write a novel but i am not a well educated person so my self doubt has always held me back.

Best wishes



Thanks for sharing your truly uplifting tale and it has all the ingredients needed for a good read in MS Matters. Being able to fly down for Portsmouth home games is only a matter of time.

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i dunno if u have read any of my posts…

brief summary-huge attack 2yrs ago from which i have never recovered. loss of sight in one eye, right sided weakness, speech issues blah blah…

however, i too have had a book bursting inside me! so a year ago i found a scribe who comes to my house weekly (i cant hold a pen). my memory and spelling etc is rubbish. so many hurdles to cross (every pun intended!)

i mentioned in my previous reply a brill book…

so go for it girl! whether you get the book completed or not (i think) is unimportant but the satisfaction of what you do achieve will do you good.

i am at the stage of deciding whether mine is just a glorified diary or something of interest to others. either way what i have achieved so far is part of my dream…



Sounds wonderful - we came across this charity at a mobility show in Peterborough a couple of years ago and thought it was a great idea. I am having the terrors simply trying to learn to drive so I really take my hat off to you for learning to fly!

wow!! thats inspirationsl for all of us,nice post!! ( you star!!!)

stay safe, julien,

I would love to learn to fly - I did aeronautical engineering at university with the plan to join the Navy or RAF & possibly learn to fly afterwards. Didn’t quite work that way but I would still love to learn.


Whammel, I’m down in Salisbury for my scholarship, so Portsmouth’s not that far away. I was hoping to be able to get a photo of me going over Fratton Park, but flying over the city’s actually pretty tricky, so sadly I won’t be able to do it. I did go over to the Isle of Wight one day though, and got a photo of me flying over my old house.

And JBK, you’ve got no excuse to apply now then - good luck!


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Thankyou Ellie!

When i get rid of this awful pain in my head i might put some ideas onto paper. (cant think straight at the moment with this pain!)

A friend of my husbands has just written a childrens book and had it published. He is a lorry driver! Not the kind of person you would imagine would be writing for children. Hearing about his book has made me start to think “i might be able to do this” and when i hear what you have had to overcome i have nothing to lose by having a try even if it is just for my own enjoyment.

Take care Ellie.

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Super post Dan and well done on going solo…its a big achievement.

I was learning to fly about 25 years ago and loved it. It was getting a bit expensive so I didnt complete the 40 hours for the private pilots licence. Still got the log book and will dig it out now that you have reminded me of the good memories. Its a nice feeling being up there with excellent views.

Keep it up, enjoy it and thanks for the post.


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I do feel so jealous - and whereas I do have MS and have had it for 10 years, I’m very lucky in that the effect it has had on me is nowhere near as bad as others. I would feel guilty that I had taken the place of a more disabled person.

Having said that - I might just give them a call and sound it out. My first love was the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird which I saw pictures of when I was 13. When I went to Duxford for a birthday treat and saw one in the ‘flesh’ it gave me goosebumps. In a romance novel, it would be the ripped bad boy with tattoos and a gentle soul who always gets the girl (sigh).

Well enough of that. I’ll give them a call monday

JBK xx


Many congratulations on your first solo.

And thank you for your inspiring words - what a terrific story!


My not too difficult guess is Old Sarum and that must be a terrific place to learn the wonder of flying. The Wiltshire countryside is glorious and you can even relax afterwards with a pint of Wadworth’s, if so inclined. Congratulations and please keep the updates coming.

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Whammel, you’re right of course. And you’re also right as well about it being a beautiful area to fly in. Stonehenge is just a few miles away, and a couple days ago we flew over to Cerne Abbas to see a, er, rather well endowed man ; ) And the rolling Wiltshire countryside isn’t just lovely to see, there’s plenty of areas to land in if there’s an emergency!

And JBK, glad you’re going to give them a call (it’ll probably be someone called Julie that you speak to. Let her know you heard about it from me, I’m sure she’ll be pleased to know. They’re all a really lovely bunch at the charity, really supportive. And good luck - you never know where it could lead…

Anyway, just done my 4th solo flight today. This last one was the first I’ve done outside of the circuit too. The circuit is the basic rectangular pattern that everyone has to fly round at any airfield. Although I didn’t go far, maybe 12 miles, it was great to be out flying cross country - a bit like venturing out of a harbour and into the open sea. I really felt like a pilot. I can’t believe how much I’ve progressed, both in terms of my ability and confidence : )



That sounds amazing! I had a trial flying lesson for my 40th birthday - I have been a passenger in planes of different sizes from my uncle’s 5 seat Cessna to big commercial planes and I always enjoy it. I can’t justify the cost of learning to fly properly as I don’t think I’d be able to do the hours to keep a private pilot’s licence up, but I wanted to have one go at taking the controls of an aircraft. It was fantastic, I had a wonderful time, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am so glad I did it!

JBK, go for it!

Yeah, learning privately is hugely expensive. Which is one of the great things about the scholarship, as everything’s paid for - the flying time, ground school, a couple exams, accommodation, and food. One of the good things about the microlights that I was learning in (an Ikarus C42, if you’re interested) is that it’s lots cheaper than a light aircraft like most of the other scholars learn in. So the plan is to save up a tenner or so a month, and that’ll pay for an hour or two flying. Which isn’t much of course, but enough to have as a treat and keep my toe in the water.


Fantastic post Dan. Uplifting on a number of levels!

I love reading posts like this - and especially replies from people who are inspired to go for their dreams.

if you’re passing over Hertfordshire, can you do a loop-the-loop, then I’ll know it’s you & can wave?

Jane xx


I could afford to pay for flying lessons - it’s more the time it would need, firstly to gain the licence and then to keep it up. Not having the time makes learning to fly uneconomical.

I had one go at taking the controls of a small plane, it was great fun and I’m glad I did it. I’ll let someone else benefit from the scholarship - someone who has time to gain and use a private pilot’s licence.