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Michelle flies in a beautiful balloon
12:00am Monday 24th September 2012 in News
AN ENHAM Trust resident fulfilled her dream by flying 2,000ft over Andover in a specially adapted hot air balloon.
The special seat enabled wheelchair user Michelle Cooke, aged 44, to take off and land safely.
Michelle was accompanied by flying instructor Brian Jones, famed for completing the first non-stop circumnavigation of the world in a hot air balloon and beating arch rival Richard Branson.
Michelle, who landed safely in a field near Andover, said: “It was an amazing experience, a dream come true. It was so peaceful up there.”
Michelle’s wish came to light when she was discussing her personal care plan at Enham earlier this year.
She had been inspired by watching a hot air balloon float over her home, but thought, as a wheelchair user, it could never happen for her.
The flight was made possible by collaboration between the Enham Trust and Aerobility, a charity dedicated to enabling disabled people to pilot light aircraft.
This was the first time the charity has offered hot air ballooning.
Brian Catchpole, from Aerobility, said: “We think this kind of adapted seating works really well for disabled people. Adapted baskets tend to give bumpy landings. With this seat, the landing is gentle.
“If it proves popular we’re hoping to find a sponsor and do this as a regular thing.”
Six disabled people, including another Enham care home resident, Emily Capek, were taken up in the adapted balloons.