in Aerospace

Disabled woman learning to fly from hospital bed

Posted 25 January 2024

A 33-year-old woman from Hackney in London has practised flying on her computer from a hospital bed with Aerobility’s Virtual Aviation Experience (VAE).

Image courtesy Aerobility

Malky Padwa has completed virtual flying lessons while she recovered in hospital from major brain surgery, thanks to Aerobility’s revolutionary programme that enables flight in an aircraft simulator remotely while being trained by an instructor.

Malky has early onset generalised dystonia - a condition characterised by involuntary contraction of the muscles, tremors and other uncontrolled movements.

Despite living with this disability, flying has always been her dream and she completed a five hour flying scholarship with Aerobility in 2023.

The free Virtual Aviation Experience launched by Aerobility is funded by the UK Government and opens up the world of aviation to a community of people that might have previously felt it was not possible.

Aerobility is a UK Charity which changes lives by providing anyone, with any disability, access to the magic and wonder of flight.

Malky underwent major brain surgery that has resulted in prolonged hospital stay, but she was determined not to give up on her passion of earning her Private Pilot Licence; and as soon as her condition stabilised sufficiently, has been studying and practising her flying from her hospital bed.

Although Malky has eight hours actual flying experience, the Virtual Aviation Experience is designed even for beginners who have never flown before. Everyone with a disability who has dreamed of experiencing the freedom of the skies can now do so from their home for free with VAE.

Malky said: “A lot of attention and detail has gone into this programme, making sure everything is explained really well and presented in a way that is easy to understand. The course is an amazing opportunity to be able to practise and perfect what I already know. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity.”

Mike Miller-Smith, CEO of Aerobility, said: “The Virtual Aviation Experience is the merger of flight school and simulator and delivers it to any disabled person throughout the UK through their computer. The programme helps us support those disabled people who are unable to make it to our centres at Blackbushe Airport and Tatenhill Airfield.

“It also provides a realistic introduction to piloting one of Aerobility’s aircraft, so should the bug take hold, VAE flyers will have a head-start when coming to fly with us for real.”

The courses are led by Aerobility pilots, volunteers and flight instructors and are free of charge for those who get a place. The courses are for adults and children aged 12 and above. Applicants should be able to control a computer.

“I really encourage anyone with a disability who has dreamed of flying a plane to apply for one of the VAE places - it could change your life.”

Anyone with a disability over the age of 12 can apply to the free VAE course at:








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