Friday, 24 September 2021

Teenage heli pilot finishes challenge

A TEENAGER who this year became the country’s youngest pilot flew solo around the UK for charity last week.

A TEENAGER who this year became the country’s youngest pilot flew solo around the UK for charity last week.

Hugh Barklem, 17, travelled the entire British coast in his four-day adventure, just months after passing his pilot’s exams.

He took on the challenge in his father’s Robinson R44 helicopter to raise money for ArriveAlive, which aims to put a helipad on every children’s hospital in the country.

Now, despite having been on the ground for just a week, Hugh is already planning a much bigger trip in the future.

He said: “It was better than I expected, it couldn’t really have gone any better. We had no problems, no hitches and I can’t wait to do another one. I’m just persuading my mum to let me go around the world!

“I’m not at all sick of flying, I’d do it again in a second. I never stop thinking about flying and I’m already planning more missions like this. I’d definitely like to do it again.

“Everything went to plan. We had no delays and it also gave me much more experience in the air. There were a few mountains to deal with in Scotland so I feel like I’m a better pilot now.”

Hugh set off on Tuesday last week and flew around the south coast before heading east and up to Scotland. He travelled to Oban and the Isle of Skye on Wednesday and made his way to Wales on Thursday before landing back at Denham on Friday at 4pm.

He flew for up to nine hours day during the adventure, stopping off at airfields, islands and even a rock shelf in Scotland.

Hugh, who lives with parents Nigel and Emma in Lambridge Lane, Henley, said: “From the moment I came round the Isle of Wight on Tuesday I felt really good. Flying over Scotland is brilliant, you can’t really describe it. I think it was the best place to fly as you could set down and land anywhere really. I saw some massive basking sharks just off the coast of the Scilly Isles, loads of seals and dolphins as well.”

Donations are still pouring in a week after Hugh finished the challenge, with the total raised thought to be in the thousands, and he is hoping to raise more money for ArriveAliveAppeal in the future.

The charity was first brought to his attention after he was hospitalised in 2010 and missed 12 months of school with swine flu, glandular fever and chronic fatigue. Now he is hoping to serve as an ambassador to the charity, alongside his dream of working as a commercial helicopter pilot.

Tony Bateson, director of communications at ArriveAliveAppeal, said: “It’s a remarkable performance Hugh has put in and we are very grateful.

“We won’t know until the end of the month, but we think he may have raised between £2,000 and £5,000. But what’s more important is that this helped gain attention and established Hugh as an ambassador for the charity. We are delighted Hugh has offered to give us his continued help.”

To donate to Hugh, visit www.helihugh.com or www.arrivealiveappeal.org

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