Blind Pilot's High-Flying Trek Hits Australia

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A blind British pilot touched down in Sydney, Australia on Monday at the end of a 21,725-kilometre (13,500-mile) flight by microlight aircraft half way around the world from London.

Miles Hilton-Barber, a 58-year-old father of three, braved snowstorms, freezing temperatures and torrential downpours during his 59-day journey under the supervision of sighted 46-year-old co-pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy.

"It's the fulfilment of an amazing dream," Hilton-Barber told reporters at Sydney's Bankstown airport.

"I've wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid. Now I'm totally blind and I've had the privilege of flying more than halfway around the world," he added.

Hilton-Barber, who lost his eyesight to a hereditary condition about 20 years ago, is hoping the trip will raise 2.5 (m) million Australian dollars (2 million US dollars) for the charity Seeing is Believing, which works for the prevention of blindness in developing countries.

He took to the skies from Biggin Hill air base in south London on March 7 in a microlight aircraft - which looks like a cross between a tricycle and a motorised hang-glider - with the aid of an audio device that reads out navigational information such as air speed and altitude.

Hilton-Barber has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, run marathons in the Sahara and Gobi deserts, and even attempted to reach the South Pole, hauling a sledge over 400 kilometres (250 miles) of Antarctic ice.

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