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South Wootton Parkinson’s sufferer Peter feels sky-high after learning how to fly

Peter Tibbs takes to the skies for his third flying lesson despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2007

Peter Tibbs takes to the skies for his third flying lesson despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2007

A South Wootton man who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease seven years ago, is on a mission to beat the odds by learning how to fly a plane and land it safely.

Peter Tibbs, 63, was diagnosed in 2007 with the condition, but refused to let it stop him from taking on this challenge of taking to the skies.

He said: “Sometimes I sit and think and sometimes I just sit. It must have been on one of those former occasions when the idea came into my mind that it might be fun to learn to fly...in a plane. I’m not Peter Pan.

“I’ll never be able to get a pilot’s licence because of my Parkinson’s but I intend to take off, fly a circuit and land without the instructor taking the controls.”

Peter’s first two lessons were at an air club in Cambridgeshire, but he later decided to move to Old Buckenham Air Club because it was closer to his home.

He was given a pre-flight briefing where the control surfaces were identified and the functions were explained, before being introduced to the aeroplane.

He said: “The instructor, Howard Barber, had done all the external checks so it was down to me to do the cockpit checks. When all of the checks were completed, I taxied the aircraft to the runway.

“The instructor said just rest your hands on the controls and do what I do, I have control. The aircraft surged forward and in no time we were airborne.”

Control of the aircraft was handed over to Peter at this point.

He said: “There was some turbulence up to about 4,000 feet and the aircraft pitched, rolled and bucked like a wild horse determined to unseat the inexperienced rider.

“From 4,000ft to 6,000ft, the air was clear and smooth. The instructor kept giving advice and then landed the aircraft through the turbulence – it was all I could do to keep my breakfast in the right place.”

He added: “I could not eat for the rest of the day. It was quite frightening but I can’t wait until next time.”

 

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