‘When I am in the cockpit none of my problems matter in fact the higher I am off the ground the less bothered I am about everything.’
In 2004, Simon was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The PTSD and its social stigma caused Simon to feel low, doubt himself and question everything he did which was such a shock as he had always been very confident, determined and career orientated expecting to move up the ranks from his position as Corporal Section Commander in the Army.
Simon’s interest in flying came through a seven day gliding experience and a one day behind the scenes programme at Heathrow which included a flight simulator experience. Simon first heard about Aerobility through Band of Brothers (part of Help for Heroes that provide lifelong access to support and opportunities to their members) who invited Simon to a flying Experience day at Aerobility. During this day he learnt more about the scholarship opportunities available from Help for Heroes and The Air League (who are supported in this project by Boeing). Simon says ‘The first lesson was life changing; I felt on top of the world and was completely hooked. I hadn’t felt like that for a long time’. With support from Aerobility he successfully applied for a scholarship for his lessons.
Simon says ‘My wife noticed the difference straight away. She saw how flying lifted my mood and that I smoked less. Everybody should learn to fly, it’s a different world where you get a different perspective on life and can leave your cares behind. I would like to thank everybody at Aerobility for the phenomenal experience they have given me. Even if I wasn’t funded somehow I would find a way to continue flying.’
Simon has completed 8 hours training over 8 lessons and is currently working towards his Private Pilot’s License (PPL). ‘I don’t yet know where it will take me, I need to be realistic, but I do know I want to give back so that others will have the opportunity to benefit from flying.’