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Wounded pilots to fly to South Pole

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

  • Six of the seven crew members who will fly the lightweight small aircraft more than 3,000 miles over Antarctica

  • Flt Lt Kat Janes from RAF Alnwick poses beside the microlight

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A Westcountry soldier is to join a daring bid by a group of disabled servicemen to complete a microlight flight to the South Pole.

The seven-strong team of wounded pilots will brave temperatures as low as minus 30C (minus 22F) as they fly the lightweight, propeller-powered small aircraft for more than 3,000 miles in a round-trip over Antarctica.

The Flying for Freedom challenge will achieve three world firsts – the first flexible wing flight in Antarctica, the first over the South Pole and the first over the continent's highest mountain, 16,050ft Mount Vinson.

Business leader, ex-minister and patron of the expedition Lord Digby Jones said the trip was being made in the name of freedom.

Staff Sergeant Matt Raasch-Sotinwa, based at Chivenor in North Devon, is one of seven disabled or injured soldiers and airmen preparing for the trip in 2014.

The 41-year-old Royal Marine was paralysed after developing a brain tumour following a surfing accident at Saunton four years ago.

He recovered sufficiently to become the fifth fastest man in Britain, only narrowly missing out on selection for the 2012 Paralympics, and is working towards a pilot's licence.

He said: "There have been one or two moments in training where my heart's been in my mouth – it's an exciting venture and no-one's going into it half-heartedly."

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