Handiflight around the world until New Zealand

Given that we had not managed to find any new sponsors and no disabled pilot with MikeGuillaume, Paolo and Eric’s experience is available to enable us to continue safely on our way, we unfortunately have to bring our adventure to a close here in New Zealand. This decision was difficult and painful to take, but it’s the only logical option as safety has always been our top priority.

With 5 months and 30,000 km of flight behind us, we of course remember flying over amazing landscapes, more beautiful than we could ever have dreamed of, but above all we have had encounters with people we will never forget. And I think we have also achieved the goal that motivated Mike to get involved in this adventure:

“The opportunity to participate as a pilot in the Handiflight RTW project is a way in which I hope to use my love for aviation, and the opportunities it has given me, to inspire other people to break down the barriers firstly in their own minds, and then in the minds of those around them about what is possible if one allows oneself to embrace the seemingly impossible. Sometimes all it takes is a changed way of looking at things, or a small adaptation, or a functional aid and suddenly the potential and passion of an individual, seemingly severely limited by one or other disability, can be given wings and fly. It will be a tremendous privilege to be able to support and hopefully communicate in a very tangible way the underlying message of Humanity and Inclusion, that when we focus on our common humanity and provide pathways to inclusion, then we provide the will and the space for everyone to follow their own dreams and imagine a fuller life for themselves and those around them.” Mike Lomberg

We would never have got as far as New Zealand without the precious support of our sponsor Blackwolf, of our Angels, and of all our other partners. We can never thank them enough for their help. Our thanks go also to our patrons for their support and confidence.

One of our aims was to collect funds to help Humanity & Inclusions (HI) finance its many projects around the world. Today on our planet “over 100 million people are awaiting delivery of a wheelchair or an artificial limb”. We flew 30,000 km and collected  about 10,000 CHF. An enormous THANK YOU to all donors for their generosity. We hope to reach our 30,000 CHF target this autumn.

Thanks to all those who helped us during our journey in various different ways. Thanks to the Lions Clubs International who welcomed us so warmly in most of the countries we visited. Their support allowed us to meet, communicate with, share experience and inspire people – some disabled, others not –  whom we would never have been able to encounter without the Lions.

Thanks also to all of you for following us. Your “likes” and your “comments” encouraged us enormously. We were happy to have been able to share this adventure with you, and we hope it also enabled you  to dream.

Safe travels to you all.

A break of 3 months

When we took off from from Switzerland 4 months ago, reaching Australia was our dream. The next goal we set ourselves was to allow other disabled pilots – Pierre Martins, Alex Krol and Lee Rowe – to fly with Eric Dabas right across this continent and meet more disabled pilots: Robert Rickards, David McPherson, Glenn Bannister, Cliff Princehorn and Dave Jacka in Australia, and then Barry Cardno, Tony Christiansen and Ross Millichamp in New Zealand. Several programmes on Australian and New Zealand national channels, as well as many newspaper articles, have helped convey our message of inclusion of people with disabilities, and helped to change people’s perceptions of disability. In many countries, visits to rehabilitation centres have allowed us to meet, share, exchange, inspire and give hope to people who have recently become disabled.

We now have to take a break of 3 months here in New Zealand because Eric could not get an extension of his leave, and no other disabled pilot who has the knowledge and experience that are vital for tackling the flights that lie ahead is available before July. What’s more, we haven’t yet found a new sponsor to allow us to continue our journey. If you know of a company that would like to become a partner and have its logo on our plane, please let us know through the contact page.

Another important goal is to raise funds for Humanity & Inclusion which finances countless projects around the world. We set ourselves the goal of raising 80’000 US$, corresponding to the 80’000 km of our trip. Currently, we have flown 30’000 km and collected about 10’000 US$.

Thank you for your help and see you soon

Australia & New Zealand

Dear friends, We have decided to continue our trip across Australia and on to New Zealand. Eric Dabas, professional pilot and Flight instructor, is going to take over and fly our specially adapted CTLS. You can check out Eric’s biography. Our new schedule is at the bottom of our Itinerary page.
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If we are to continue on our journey after New Zealand, we will need to find a new main partner. Please spread this news.

Main goal achieved

Getting as far as Perth was one of our principle goals since the outset in this project. We have now arrived. I would like to congratulate Paolo warmly for having taken on the challenge of taking the baton over from Mike and Guillaume in extremely difficult circumstances, and I would especially like to thank Paolo’s wife Sonja for accepting his decision and giving him her support. Many thanks also to Joseph, the pilot of the support airplane, for having reorganized his affairs to replace Laurent, and for getting the whole team here safely. A special thank you to all the lions clubs on our way for their incredible support and kindness. Many thanks to Luc et Wim, our weathermen, for their great help. Thanks also to all of you for having supported us when we took our decision to continue. We will now shortly decide on what our next steps will be.

Decision

Dear friends. After careful consideration we have decided to set off again and head for Perth, where we will decide on how our flight should continue. Our airplane will be piloted by Paolo Pocobelli. We would like to express our deep gratitude for your expressions of support. These touched us a lot and helped us. We would like to thank warmly the Lions Club of Bangkok Bauluang and in particular Surasak Salachua, as well as the Thai Flying Club, the Chonburi Provincial Police, the Ministry of Tourism and sport, the Chonburi Police Imigration, the Thailand Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee and all the people here in Thailand who have shown us incredible empathy and kindness. The investigation is in progress. Its results will not be known for a year or so. On our Facebook Page are the pictures of our flight to Bang Phra, one of our shortest flight since we set out.

Thank you all

Mike’s family – Peta, Chris, Amy and Jem would like to thank you all for your messages of love and support. Mike’s life was filled with unbelievable challenges, but he was defined by his abilities in every sense. Mike jumped at the opportunity Handiflight offered to soar the global tapestry of cultures, activities, and people’s stories which he embraced and identified with so readily. To inspire others, change perceptions, reach out, touch and make a difference. His writing tells the story. For us, that is when he re-discovered his dream, and you all played a part in making it happen, and joined the ride. So while we grieve, we want to thank you all for witnessing something amazing. A journey, the joy of discovery, giving, inspiring, and living it all with a cheeky smile – we are all proud of you Mike

To fly is to conquer the physics, to soar is the essence of flight that feeds the soul.

That’s a well fed soul – be free

Thank you all

Invitation

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Dear Handiflyers,

Organized every year from 2007 to 2009 and every two years since 2011, The next edition of Handiflight will take place in 2018. But this time, instead of inviting you to Gruyère, we will set off in two light airplanes on a 9-months journey to meet other pilots around the world. These two CTLS aircraft, will be flown by Guillaume (Féral) and Paolo (Poccobelli). They will be alone on board to fly to Australia and then to cross the Pacific and the Atlantic. We offer you the opportunity of flying these airplanes for several periods of two weeks with Paolo or Guillaume as safety pilots in the following areas : Australia (March), New Zealand (April), South America (July) and North America (August).

The requirements are to have a PPL(A) or a Sport Pilot Licence and speak English or/and French. All the aeronautical expenses (airplanes, fuel, taxes, etc.) are paid by Handiflight, but you will have to pay for food, accommodation and airline tickets to join us (we hope to get discounted tickets).

These are not local but point-to-point flights, which can sometimes be long. As you can imagine, it will be impossible to satisfy the wishes of all. I will be solely responsible for the difficult choices that I will have to make. Thank you for your understanding.

If you are interested and you think you fulfil the conditions, please contact me as soon as possible.

Daniel Ramseier