By Claire Cooper
Cuckfield hairdresser Deborah Day is looking to make history later this year as she sets out on a recordbreaking balloon flight across the Atlantic with her partner Mike Scholes.
The couple have been regular flying partners since Mike, a former military and commercial airman, lost his sight 11 years ago – but not before he had helped Deborah gain her pilot’s licence.
Deborah aims to be the first woman to captain a balloon across the Atlantic and, if successful, will smash world distance and duration records. Mike will also be the first registered blind person to crew on such a flight.
The 2,800 mile fundraising flight from Dartmouth in Canada to Dartmouth, Devon, in aid of Blind Veterans UK is expected to take between five and ten days during which the duo’s 85ft Rozière balloon will be lifted by a combination of helium and hot air to altitudes of more than 18,000ft.
“The balloon will fly between 500 and 18,000ft depending on weather,” says Mike, who is one of only seven British pilots to have flown at three times that height.
The duo are getting their equipment together, but are interested to hear from anyone who’d like to sponsor a fuel tank, sandbag or clothing for the trip. Call Mike on 07989 321914 for more details. There is also a financial supporters page at: www.gofundme.com/transatlantic-balloon-challenge
Deborah, who has owned Hairworks in Cuckfield for five years, adds: “I couldn’t make the Atlantic trip without Mike. Although he cannot handle the landings, he is still a very competent, experienced balloonist. The part I’m most looking forward to is the clarity of the night skies at that height with no pollution.”