Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 08:57 UK

Blind pilot achieves speed record

Miles Hilton-Barber and co-pilot Storm Smith (right)
The jet flew upside down over Cape Town

A Derbyshire adventurer has become the first blind man to break the sound barrier as the pilot of a supersonic fighter jet.

Miles Hilton-Barber, from Duffield, flew with a sighted co-pilot reaching speeds of up to 1,100mph over Cape Town, South Africa on Sunday.

The jet climbed to 50,000ft (15,000m) in under two minutes.

The 59-year-old said it had made him "one of the happiest and most fulfilled blind men in the world".

We were flying at around one-and-a-half times the speed of sound
Miles Hilton-Barber

He said: "The rush was incredible. It was just wonderful.

"Of course, I couldn't see anything but my co-pilot told me that when we flying upside down at 50,000ft. You could see the curve of the earth.

"We were flying at around one-and-a-half times the speed of sound."

The sponsored record attempt in the English Electric Lightning aircraft was a bid to raise 50,000 for the charity Seeing is Believing, which helps blind children in developing countries.

"I will never see again but there are children in the world who could have their sight back for just 30.

"There are 37 million blind people in the world today, and 28 million could see again tomorrow if the money was available," Mr Hilton-Barber said.

The pilot also holds a record for flying a microlight from London to Sydney.

His other accomplishments include a 150-mile trek across the Sahara in the Marathon des Sables and climbing to 17,500 feet in the Himalayas.




SEE ALSO
Blind pilot in speed record bid
21 Aug 07 |  Gloucestershire
Blind pilot lands in record books
30 Apr 07 |  Derbyshire
Blind pilot aims at world record
05 Mar 07 |  Derbyshire

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