A blind British adventurer touched down in Sydney Monday to end an epic 13,500-mile flight by microlight aircraft from London.
Miles Hilton-Barber braved snowstorms, freezing temperatures and torrential downpours during his 59-day journey under the supervision of sighted co-pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy.
“It’s the fulfillment of an amazing dream,” Hilton-Barber, 58, told reporters at Sydney’s Bankstown airport. “I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid. Now I’m totally blind and I’ve had the privilege of flying more than halfway around the world.”
Hilton-Barber, who lost his eyesight to a hereditary condition about 20 years ago, is hoping the trip will raise $2 million for the charity Seeing is Believing, which works for the prevention of blindness in developing countries.
He took to the skies from Biggin Hill air base in south London on March 7 in a microlight aircraft, which looks like a cross between a tricycle and a motorized hang-glider, with the aid of an audio device that reads out navigational information such as air speed and altitude.
Hilton-Barber also has conquered Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, run marathons in the Sahara and Gobi deserts, and even attempted to reach the South Pole, hauling a sledge over 250 miles of Antarctic ice.