Monday, March 31, 2008

Blind pilot breaks sound barrier

A Derbyshire adventurer has become the first blind man to break the sound barrier as the pilot of a supersonic fighter jet. Miles Hilton-Barber, from Duffield, flew with a sighted co-pilot reaching speeds of up to 1,100mph over Cape Town, South Africa on Sunday.

The jet climbed to 50,000ft (15,000m) in under two minutes.

The 59-year-old said it had made him "one of the happiest and most fulfilled blind men in the world". He said: "The rush was incredible. It was just wonderful.

"Of course, I couldn't see anything but my co-pilot told me that when we flying upside down at 50,000ft. You could see the curve of the earth. We were flying at around one-and-a-half times the speed of sound."

The sponsored record attempt in the English Electric Lightning aircraft was a bid to raise £50,000 for the charity Seeing is Believing, which helps blind children in developing countries.

"I will never see again but there are children in the world who could have their sight back for just £30. There are 37 million blind people in the world today, and 28 million could see again tomorrow if the money was available," Mr Hilton-Barber said.

The pilot also holds a record for flying a microlight from London to Sydney.

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