'There are no blue cards in the sky': Disabled pilots relay over Scotland

The Flying Scholarships for Disabled People crew are going from Liverpool to Orkney.

Pilots with disabilities are taking part in a flight relay between Liverpool and Orkney.

Almost a dozen recipients of the Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP) are flying a small plane the length of the country, to celebrate 40 years of the charity which funded their training.

The flight set off from Liverpool around 5.30am on Monday, and is due to finish its journey in Kirkwall, in Orkney.

Elaine Boyd, who has cerebral palsy, captained the leg between Prestwick Airport and Cumbernauld.

She said: “It was incredible to get in the plane. The weather was on our side as well, so we had clear views, and to be able to pinpoint areas I know in Scotland was just amazing.”

Elaine Boyd flew between Prestwick and Cumbernauld

Elaine received a scholarship to learn to fly in 2018, and says it’s had a huge effect on her confidence.

“The biggest impact for me has been around being more open about my disability, so when I was connected to FSDP they had lots of people with different ranges of disabilities, and you could see lots of solutions and ways round making things work for people.”

Elaine handed the controls to Pauline Gallagher, who also has cerebral palsy, and learned to fly after getting in touch with the charity almost 20 years ago.

Pauline Gallagher started flying in 2005, after receiving a scholarship from the charity

Before setting off for Perth, Pauline told STV News: “I got the bug, I totally got the bug. And then I went on to fly solo at Prestwick 12 years ago, twice.

“There’s no blue cards up there, no blue parking cards, so you’re held to the standards that everyone else is. It’s fantastic that you can meet those standards, even with a disability.”

Ian Revell, vice-chair of the charity, who is accompanying the pilots and crews on the flights, said: “We’re visiting airfields across the country to raise the profile of FSDP, and encourage those with a disability to apply for one of our scholarships. They too will be able to learn to fly, join our support network and change their lives for the better.”

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