Offaly pilot takes part in historic Northern Lights charity flight
Offaly man Mikey McMahon has taken part in a historic flight to the view the northern lights at 30,000 feet for Aerobility, a charity helping those with disabilities to get their private flying licence.
The British Airways pilot was part of the flight team, joined by astronaut Tim Peake, and 142 lucky stargazers, on the flight out of Gatwick. The flight headed north of Scotland to take in the natural light display.
Mikey has come to media attention before when in 2016 he brought his brother Robbie, who has a rare genetic condition called William's Syndrome, on his first ever flight. Mikey posted a clip of the heartwarming flight to social media and it went viral across the world.
For this charity flight, starwatchers started the day at Gatwick airport, where they heard from Aurora expert and BBC The Sky At Night presenter Pete Lawrence before enjoying a special guest lecture from Tim Peake. At sunset they boarded the A320 aircraft and headed to 61 degrees North to the coast of the Shetland Isles, in the hope of witnessing the celestial spectacle.
"It was a very special flight because on board we had Squadron leader Mike Ling who is the longest-serving Red Arrows pilot in history and Astronaught Tim Peake. It was an amazing experience," Mikey told the Offaly Express.
As customers prepared for the evening’s events and adjusted their eyes to the night sky, Pete Lawrence entertained those on board with a running commentary over the PA system throughout the flight, pointing out star constellations as well as the glowing light formation visible through the aircraft windows.
The charity at the centre of the flight, Aerobility, gives people with a disability the chance to fly, and all proceeds from the evening will be used to support aviation based opportunities for disabled young people, disabled adults and wounded soldiers. In attendance was Mike Miller-Smith MBE, CEO of the charity, British Airways senior first officer and Aerobility Chairman Shona Bowman and first officer and Aerobility Trustee Andy Robins.
Captain Ian Mills, who operated the flight, said: “To be able to view the Northern Lights while supporting such a great charity is a great experience. British Airways is incredibly proud to be able to support this special charter flight and we are delighted that we’ve played a part in helping raise money for a fantastic cause.”
Mike Miller-Smith MBE, CEO of Aerobility, said: “The Aerobility Aurora flight required a huge amount of hard work and planning, and with the help of British Airways, tonight has been a great success. Aerobility supporters and the British Airways crew have been fantastic.”
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