Blind woman prepares to become a pilot

NOT content with driving a car, a blind woman from St Neots is preparing to take to the skies for the ultimate fundraising challenge. Martine Brooks, 57, lost her sight 25 years ago, but is hoping to raise £5,000 for the East Anglia Children s Hospice (EA

NOT content with driving a car, a blind woman from St Neots is preparing to take to the skies for the ultimate fundraising challenge.

Martine Brooks, 57, lost her sight 25 years ago, but is hoping to raise £5,000 for the East Anglia Children's Hospice (EACH) by flying a plane.

The mother of one who lives in Hawkesford Way told The Hunts Post: "I'm always looking for a new challenge and finding ways of raising money for worthy causes. I think if you want to get people's attention you have to do something different."

Last August Mrs Brooks drove unaided along the A428 Great Barford bypass before it opened to the public, and raised £4,000 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.


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For her latest challenge Mark Jefferies, the British Champion Acrobatics Pilot, will teach her how to take off, fly, and land a plane without any physical interaction.

Mrs Brooks, who is a teaching assistant at Longsands Community College and has already had two flying lessons, said: "It feels just the same as driving a car because I can't see the horizon or the view below, but when the plane goes up and down I know I'm flying and I get a real buzz."

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To enable her to fly safely, Mrs Brooks will need to undergo three more lessons in preparation for her flight at Great Gransden Airfield on June 14, weather permitting.

She added: "Mark has to talk me through everything and give me constant direction. He tells me when to turn and level, and to make any minor corrections. I love flying but it is more dangerous then driving so I have to be constantly aware of directions from Mark."

Mrs Brooks' husband Phil will also be in the dual controlled four-seater Cherokee plane but her 16-year-old son Yon has decided to watch from the ground.

It will cost between £600 and £800 to pay for the cost of the flying lessons, but Mrs Brooks is hopeful of finding a sponsor to cover the sum.

INFORMATION: To sponsor Martine Brooks' flying lessons, or to make a donation to her appeal fund visit www.gbchallenge.info

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