TWO Gwent people are flying high after being given the opportunity to take part in a flying scholarship.
Amanda Edmunds, 44, from Chepstow and Paul May, 42, from Newport, have both been awarded scholarships to learn to fly at Bournemouth Flying Club, as part of the Royal International Air Tattoo Flying Scholarships for the Disabled.
The Flying Scholarships for Disabled People was inaugurated in 1983 in memory of the disabled Second World War pilot Group Captain Douglas Bader, and is dedicated to helping disabled people discover their true potential through learning to fly.
Ms Edmunds has an auto-immune disorder, which meant she had to be medically discharged from her role in the RAF police.
She found out about the scholarships by accident.
“I was at last year’s RIAT when I saw the FSDP tent and went in,” she said.
“I didn’t think I’d be eligible, but I’ve always had a dream of learning to fly and I was told to apply - and now I’m really looking forward to starting.
“I hope that if my health holds up I’ll be able to get a solo flight out of my course.
“My ultimate dream is to get my PPL (Private Pilots Licence) and to be a mentor for other FSDP scholars.”
Both Amanda and Paul are sponsored by the RAF Charitable trust, and received their awards from FSDP patron, HRH Prince Faisal of Jordan and Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Chief of the Air Staff, earlier this year.
Mr May also came to RIAT last year, but it was only when he was looking through the programme after the event that he discovered FSDP. He said: “I didn’t think I had a chance but my dad, who was in the RAF, persuaded me.
“I wanted to join the RAF but I have haemophilia so couldn’t get in. I did fly gliders but had to give up because of arthritis, and I lost my job because of my disability so had no money to carry on.
“Now I can’t wait – I’d love to get my PPL and move on, maybe training to instruct or to be a commercial pilot, but I just want to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.”