Leeds & West Yorkshire

Paraplegic pilot completes epic journey in microlight

Dave Sykes
Image caption Mr Sykes set off in his microlight in April and flew over 20 countries to reach Australia

A paraplegic microlight pilot from West Yorkshire has reached Australia after a three-month solo flight from England.

Dave Sykes, from Dewsbury, has landed at Truscott on Australia's north west coast 103 days after leaving Yorkshire.

Mr Sykes, who broke his back in a motorbike accident in 1993, is thought to be the first paraplegic to fly from England to Australia in a microlight.

Mr Sykes, 43, used the 12,000 mile journey to help raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

'Really difficult'

Speaking to ABC News in Darwin, Mr Sykes said it had not been an easy journey.

"It's been really difficult at times with the bad weather, permissions holding me up and things going wrong with the aircraft," he said.

In November 1993, a motorbike accident left Mr Sykes with a broken back, clavicle and thigh bone, together with broken ribs and punctured lungs.

However, he was released from hospital in May 1994 after doctors had said he would remain there for at least two years.

Mr Sykes took up microlighting in 2000 and gained his pilot's licence in 2001.

He said: "I started flying 10 years ago and saw a video of a guy who flew around the world.

"I've always wanted to do something similar so I decided on Australia because I couldn't afford to fly around the world."

Mr Sykes now plans to fly to Sydney in his microlight.

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