On 18 November 2018 two pilots, Mike Lomberg and Guillaume Feral under the banner of Handiflight took off from Geneva on an 9 months 80,000 km global adventure of which more than half will be flown solo in two Flight Design CTLS aircraft that was set to take them to 6 continents, 40 countries, to meet, share, inspire, promote by example and to change perceptions of disability.
Switzerland - Italy - Greece - Egypt - Saudi Arabia - UAE - Pakistan - India - Bengladesh - Thailand - Singapore - Indonesia - Australia - New Zealand - Norfolk Island - New Caledonia - Vanuatu - Fiji - Tonga - Niue - Cook Islands - Polynesia - Gambier Islands - Easter Island - Robinson Crusoe Island - Chile - Peru - Ecuador - Colombia - Panama - Costa Rica - Nicaragua - Honduras - Guatemala - Mexico - USA - Canada - Portugal - Spain - France - Great Britain - Belgium - Germany - Luxembourg - Switzerland
Hand controls are fitted in these light sport aircraft to allow them to be flown without the use of legs. Auxiliary fuel tanks are also installed in the wings and in the cockpit for the longest legs.
In addition to raising awareness about the importance of inclusiveness, the Handiflight around the World project, organized by Lions Club International, aims to raise funds for the non-profit Humanity and Inclusion organisation.
Guillaume Ferrel was born in 1960 in Tananarive, Madagascar where he spent all his childhood and became an aviation addict. Guillaume studied in Paris where he learned to fly and graduated from business school and finished his military duties. In 1985, while training to become a glider pilot and on his second solo flight he crashed and became paraplegic. It took Guillaume four years after the glider accident to resume flying and as a member of the Aťro-Club Paul-Louis Weiller in Les Mureaux (west of Paris) he got his private pilot's license back on hand-control-equipped-aircraft.
In 1990 he bought a DR400 on which I installed hand controls with the help of two friends. Thanks to a second hand control system, which he developed for the Cessna 177, he was lucky to get to know Dorine Bourneton, a young paraplegic pilot who was injured in the crash of a PA28. They became close friends and thanks to Dorine, who has opened many doors in aviation licensing for disabled persons, Guillaume had the opportunity to enjoy amazing flying experiences and meet extraordinary people.
Mike Lomberg grew up in Cape Town and following the completion of his schooling joined the South African Air Force to train as a pilot, receiving his military wings in 1978 on Aeromacchi MB326 jet aircraft. Mike went on to fly Alouette III, Puma and Super Frelon helicopters, before converting to Dakota DC3 fixed wing transport aircraft.
In 1984, while still with the SA Air Force, he trained as an experimental test pilot with the National Test Pilot School of Mojave, USA. Following service with the military Test Flight and Development Centre he joined Denel Aerospace as a project test pilot for the Rooivalk and Oryx Helicopter programs.
In 1990 I sustained a spinal cord injury as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident. As a paraplegic, I was unable to continue my test flying activities as a pilot, but remained with Denel Aerospace until 1999 in various project management roles on the helicopter program, and finally as the Chief of Flight Test for the company.
At around 201 Mike purchased a Glasair Sportsman aircraft, in which a friend installed hand controls. This allowed him to regain his civilian flying licences and to once again enjoy his first love: flying aeroplanes as a member of Morningstar Flying Club which is based at Morningstar Airfield just north of Cape Town.
It was through his flying activities on the Sportsman that he came into contact indirectly with Handiflight through a glider pilot in South Africa who is actively promoting flying among people with disabilities here in SA.
On 18 November 2018 Mike and Guillaume departed from Geneva Airport on on the first leg of the Handiflight around the world project, organised by Lions Club International.
18 November crossing the Alps
On 20 November adverse weather forced a return Greece
20 November leaving Greece again
30 Nov overhead the seemingly endless sand dunes in Saudi Arabia
6 December on the Apron at Dubai with staff members of Execujet
16 December Mike and Guillaume visited the Gandhi Ashram in India
18 December flying the Ahmadabad to Nagpur leg
22 December on the flight from Nagpur to Chittagong in Bangladesh
27 December approaching Chiang Mai Airfield
On 30 December Mike was involved in an accident shortly before he landed at Bang Phra Airport in Thailand. He did not survive. Mike's life was filled with unbelievable challenges, but he was defined by his abilities in every sense. When Mike was offered the Handiflight opportunity he jumped at it. It was a chance to not only re-discover his dream but also and more importantly to change perceptions, to inspire others and to reach out and touch and make a difference.