SA-born paraplegic pilot will embark on round-the-world flight to spread message

Paraplegic adventurer Mike Lomberg will set off on a round-the-world (RTW) flight later this month.

Lomberg is a former test pilot who lost the use of his legs in an accident 28 years ago.

He and another paraplegic pilot will each fly solo during the epic adventure in a specially-adapted small aircraft.

The Handiflight RTW trip is said to be the biggest fly-in of pilots with disabilities from all around the globe.

Handiflight is a NPO in Switzerland that showcases adaptive flying to the rest of the world.

The grand adventure begins on 18 November at an airfield in Geneva and is expected to end in September 2019.

They will stop at 40 countries with about 150 different stopovers. They will fly 80 000 kilometres and spend about 400 hours flying in the small aircraft.

He says he hopes to send a positive message, encouraging the world to break down the barriers in their minds.

Read: Paraplegic man surfs Cape waves, starts inspiring project to get others on board

Also read: Blind adventurer describes putting back the pieces after losing his eyesight

Lomberg worked for the SA Air Force for many years, before working for Denel Aerospace.

In 1990, he sustained a spinal cord injury in a car crash during a long distance trip bound for Cape Town.

As a paraplegic, he was unable to continue his test flying activities as a pilot.

However, when he finished rehabilitation, he returned to Denel in other roles within the helicopter program and finally as Chief of Flight Test for the company.

Lomberg shared his story and the preparation required for the Handiflight, and the details of the journey.

I started flying straight after high school... I realised this is what I want to do.

Mike Lomberg, former test pilot

I was in the SA Air Force. That's where I did my initial training... and I was fortunate enough to do test pilot training. I later joined Denel Aviation.

Mike Lomberg, former test pilot

When I woke up in the back seat my back was broken.

Mike Lomberg, former test pilot

I went straight back to work after rehab. I think that was really good for me.

Mike Lomberg, former test pilot

We're flying eastwards and we'll try to follow the summer as far as we can.

Mike Lomberg, former test pilot

We're using aviation to show what can be done if people break down the barriers in their minds.

Mike Lomberg, former test pilot

Listen to the inspiring story on The Pippa Hudson Show:

Additional info: Handiflight website.

Image: Handiflight around the world Facebook page.


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