Ups and downs for world record breaking pilot

By IH 23/02 Updated: 28/02 09:34

Buy photos » Flying high - Amanda Jenkins, Mike Roberts and Kim Towle. 08.011.007strat.nc1.

MIKE Roberts certainly went through some ups and downs to secure a world record and a prestigious aviation award.

The managing director of Wellesbourne Airfield-based Take Flight Aviation now holds the record for the number of airfields visited in 24 hours, having taken off and touched down at 68 of them.

And it was a double success for Mike who won the the world renowned international flying competition The Pooley’s Dawn to Dusk Challenge. The prestigious aviation competition has been running since 1964 and invites competitors from around the globe to choose their flying challenge, which must be flown between the hours of dawn and dusk from April 1 to August 31 for pilots in the Northern Hemisphere.

Entries are judged on originality, research, flight planning, airmanship and difficulty of the challenge itself, and a minimum of eight hours must be spent airborne.

Mike, who has been a pilot for eight years, smashed the world record.

Accompanied by student and the club’s former weekend receptionist Kim Towle, Mike took off in a Piper Archer aircraft from Wellesbourne on June 21 last year at 4.45am and had broken the world record by the the time nightfall arrived at 9.22pm.

But as the Guinness World Record allows 24 hours, Mike thought he would add a few more stops to the previous record of 63, and made five more night time landings before finally returning to Wellesbourne at 11.30am.

Having secured the world record, Mike was then flabbergasted to be recently named winner of the Dawn to Dusk Challenge, and to receive The Duke of Edinburgh Trophy - named in honour of His Royal Highness who himself is a keen aviation fan, and has been involved in the awards since they started.

Mike said: “I really hoped our achievement for gaining the world record would be recognised but I was surprised to receive the first place award.

"The trophy is magnificent and it’s a real privilege to receive the award designed by the Duke himself knowing it has been in the hands of great aviators for almost the last 50 years. Kim has since passed her Private Pilots licence so we enjoyed a triple celebration."

And it actually proved a quadruple celebration when two of the clubs private pilots - Amanda Jenkins and Ruth Bridges - scooped overall fourth place and The Bonney Trophy for the best all female crew entry at the Dawn to Dusk award ceremony held at the prestigious RAF club in London.

The couple visited airfields used by women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War acknowledging the role of the 166 female pilots in the ATA of whom 15 lost their lives, including pioneering English aviator Amy Johnson.

Mike and co are now busy planning ahead for how to defend the title in this year's competition, with a European adventure or possibly a flight round the British coast being considered.

The teams' efforts have also helped raise £1,000 and counting for Warwickshire and Northampton Air Ambulance Service.

Take Flight Aviation is a private aviators club. The club offers a fleet of eight aircraft from Wellesbourne Airfield to rent to the clubs pilot members. The club also offers training for the private pilot’s licence from a team of instructors. Visit www.takeflightaviation.com for further details.

Donations to the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance can be made to www.justgiving.com/TakeFlightWorldRecord

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