Clearly not afraid of heights, British adventurer and pilot Dave Sykes is a paraplegic you’ll never forget. Famous for his epic 16,000 mile journey in a microlight aircraft from the UK to Australia, he has taken up flying post-injury in a most fearless way.
Also an author, an active supporter of the British military and a rumored fabulous boyfriend, Dave is the latest SCI superstar we’re excited to share with our followers. Read on for a story that’s all about perseverance and flight, and is sure to change the way you think about who’s in the sky overhead.
Why he’s fearless
Injured in 1993 in a motorcycle accident, Dave’s world was changed when he became a T8 paraplegic at the age of 25. After attending rehab for several months, he finally went home, and four years later Dave tried his first extreme adapted sport – tandem parachuting.
But craziness occurred on his first try, which was a whopping 10,500 foot jump. He broke his leg when he landed and vowed to his girlfriend he’d never go parachuting again. After taking a short break from adventuring, Dave got his pilot’s license in 2000 and he fell in love with aviation instantly. While he’s flown all sorts of aircrafts, his favorite is the microlight aircraft, which took him halfway across the world and into the record books.
It was in late April 2011 when Dave began his now infamous journey. Leaving a small town in England, it took Dave a whopping four months and 257 hours of flying to reach his destination in Australia. He made several stops (20 countries in total) along the way, and had a custom-made lightweight aluminum manual wheelchair that could easily be store on the aircraft while in flight. Brilliant!
After nearly 80 days of traveling over the vastness of the Indian Ocean, through deserts, and barely making it through an electrical storm over Burma, Dave finally made it to his destination in Australia, becoming the only person with a spinal cord injury to make such a journey. He wrote a book about his amazing flight: A Wing and A Chair: Solo Flight to Oz.
Since beginning to fly in 2000, Dave has logged over 51,000 miles in the sky. Ask any amateur pilot – this number is mind-boggling impressive. He has become such a revered pilot that in 2013 he was asked to take part in the Flying for Freedom Project.
This very cool project is dedicated to helping wounded veterans physically and mentally by creating a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly microlight aircrafts to the South Pole. Learn more here
Dave can certainly rest on his laurels knowing where he’s been and how far he’s come. From flying insane distances across the globe to helping raise money for those in need, he is one unforgettable SCI survivor.
Would you fly solo from the UK to Australia with a SCI?
– Visit his official site: Dave-Sykes.com
Watch the videos!