Fri, 11 May 2018
A BLIND woman from Thatcham is preparing to perform a wing walk on a bi-plane next week, in a bid to change perceptions about visually-impaired people and raise vital funds for a disabled charity.
Sharon Smith, who is severely sight-impaired, is readying herself for a 12-minute trip-of-a-lifetime at Rendcomb, near Cirencester, on Tuesday, May 15.
Rather than taking a comfy seat on the plane, Mrs Smith will climb aboard the top wing and complete a wing walk.
She has also asked, weather permitting, to complete a 360-degree mid-air twist and a nose-dive and climb.
It will see the 46-year-old stand on top of the plane, being strapped to a frame then being flown up to a height of approximately 1,500 feet at a speed of 120 miles an hour.
Mrs Smith lost her sight in 2002 as a result of type one diabetes.
Her illness has seen her undergo two pancreatic transplants and she has been confined to a wheelchair for 10 years.
In 2009, Mrs Smith’s body weight dropped to six-and-a-half stone following her second transplant, but she can now walk again.
Driven by her positive outlook on life, Mrs Smith is determined to complete the challenge in a bid to raise money for disabled charity Aerobility.
The Camberley-based charity offers disabled people of all ages, irrespective of their condition, the opportunity to sit in the pilot seat and fly an aeroplane.
Mrs Smith said: “Aerobility are just such a brilliant charity.
“It does not matter whatever your disability is, if you’re prepared to have a go and fly a plane, you can.”
As well as fundraising, Mrs Smith decided to take up the challenge in a bid to shatter stereotypical attitudes associated with those who are partially-sighted or blind.
Mrs Smith said: “You can get a lot of negativity being blind and I guess wing-walking a plane is an unexpected thing for a blind person to do.
“This is really about saying, ‘you can do it’.
“I’m really excited and not nervous at all.
“Even though you can’t see, I think I’ll kind of know I’ll be up there.
“I quite like heights too – as long as I’m safe.”
To donate to Mrs Smith’s cause, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/ fundraisers/sharonsmith4