Nearly 30 brave Weston Hospicecare supporters took to the skies for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Rendcomb Airfield on June 21 – a 140mph flight atop a World War Two biplane.
The 27 intrepid fundraisers – to be followed at a later date by two others who were forced to postpone due to injury – each enjoyed an exhilarating series of aerial dives, banks and flypasts as supporters cheered them on from the ground.
The Aerosuperbatics display team, who would perform at Weston Air Festival later that weekend, treated each participant to a bespoke routine, often in tandem with a second aircraft.
Expert pilots took the craft to altitudes of around 1,000ft, ensuring plenty of white-knuckle moments for the wing-walkers – though each disembarked with a smile, and several declared the experience to be ‘the best thing I’ve ever done’.
The event was Weston Hospicecare’s first wing-walking day, but will not be the last, with plans already being drawn up to return in 2020.
Indeed, a number of those who took part this time around have already vowed to return next year, as a repeat visit gives them the option to take on an even more daredevil routine, complete with a loop-the-loop.
Hospice challenge manager Simon Angear, who organised the event, said: “Our first wing-walking day was an enormous success; we were thrilled with the number of people who took part, and loved seeing how much they all enjoyed the experience.
“The location was perfect, the Aerosuperbatics team were brilliant, and all of our wing-walkers played a big part in creating a really special atmosphere through their support for one another.
“Crucially, the event proved a big success on the fundraising side too, so I’d like to thank everyone who took part for their tireless efforts, and everyone else who supported them so generously – your contributions will play a big part in supporting the work of the hospice.”
Wing-walkers signed up to take part not only from Weston and Worle, but also from Clevedon, Winscombe, Bristol, Yatton, Portishead, Locking, Hutton and Priddy.
Each of the them paid a £150 registration fee and committed to raising upwards of the suggested £500 in sponsorship for the hospice – however, a number far exceeded that target.
Hospice retail director Gemma Turner was among those taking part. She said: “I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that sponsored me to complete the wing-walk.
“I am happy to report that I survived the experience (and I loved every minute of it!) and thanks to your generosity I raised over £1,900 for the hospice.
“All your donations, kind words, and support meant the world to me; I couldn’t ask to work alongside nicer people.”
She was joined in the air by community fundraiser Rachel Mansfield, who said: “I always thought that jumping out of a plane was the best thing I had ever done but wing-walking has definitely topped that! Next year I will be going back for round two!
“I’m pleased to say I raised £1,209 for the hospice, so thank you again for your donations.”
Fundraising totals are not yet known as sponsorship money is still coming in, but will be announced in due course.
In the meantime, anyone who is keen to take part in next year’s event should contact Simon on 01934 423947 or email email@example.com to find out more.