DBF Reach for the Sky Campaign!

Reach for the Sky campaign

Douglas Bader Inspires the Creation of the First Disabled Flying Display Team

The Douglas Bader Foundation, a charity set up by family and friends of the legendary War Hero shortly after his death in 1982, have launched their most exciting project to date.

The ‘Reach for the Sky’ campaign is named after the iconic, biographical war-time movie that helped make the double amputee and spitfire ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader a house hold name. The ambitious initiative will see the creation of the first ever British, disabled flying team.

The Flying team will be known as ‘Bader’s Bus Company’. When leading the Tangmere Wing, Douglas would announce his arrival over the French coast with the brief radio transmission of “Bader’s Bus Company on time’’. When word of his capture finally reached the Tangmere station Johnnie Johnson and the other pilots defiantly painted their spitfires with the slogan ‘Bader’s Bus Company Still Running’.

The charity aims to buy four light aircraft that will be used to teach those with disabilities to fly via Flying Clubs specifically geared to offer that opportunity. A team of disabled pilots will be assembled and ‘Bader’s Bus Company’ will go on to perform at airshows throughout the United Kingdom.

On the 25thJune, David Bickers, Douglas’s step son in law and CEO of the Douglas Bader Foundation, was joined by Wendy McCleave, Douglas’ eldest step daughter, Charley Bickers, Douglas’ Grandson, handed over the keys of the first light aircraft to Aerobility at their Blackbushe HQ signaling the start of the exciting initiative.

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Mike Miller Smith and David Bickers with Nathan Doidge and representatives from Aerobility and the Douglas Bader Foundation

David Bickers commented: ‘The project aims to leave a lasting legacy that is in keeping with Douglas’s own personal legacy and to inspire both the able bodied and disabled community alike’.

Mike Miller –Smith, CEO of Aerobility added: ‘’ A very exciting opportunity for two charitable organisations to work together to achieve an outstanding goal.’’

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Our first aircraft!


  • Bader’s ability as a pilot was such that he was selected to fly in the Squadron’s aerobatic 
display team at the prestigious RAF Hendon display in 1931. Bader crashed and came close to death. His injuries were so severe that both of his legs were amputated. Fitted with artificial “tin” legs, he soon learned to walk without the use of a stick and was not only soon driving his car but also flying.
  • Douglas went on to become a Wing Commander in the RAF, one of the most highly decorated and successful fighter pilots from World War 2, an incredibly good golfer, and ultimately became one of the great British hero’s, a legend in his own lifetime.
  • An inspiration to both disabled and able-bodied alike his greatest battle was the fight to change people’s perception of disability.
  • Through the Bader’s Bus Company display team the Douglas Bader Foundation continues his lifelong work. 
  • The Douglas Bader Foundation is an established independent British charity focused on 
assisting primarily the limb less community and those with other disabilities.
  • Years of experience working within the disabled community who want to fly, organisations 
that instruct disabled people to fly, as well as other British charities within this sector.
  • Aiding those with disabilities through our Bader Grant Scheme to achieve their goals.
  • Douglas Bader Foundation to partner with leading charity ‘’AEROBILITY’ to train, equip and 
enable the pilots.


Douglas Bader was commissioned as an officer in the R A F in 1930 but after only 18 months he crashed his aeroplane and became a double amputee caused by “my own fault” in an aeroplane accident in 1931. Douglas was discharged from the RAF and after the outbreak of the Second World War Douglas re-joined the RAF. Douglas was a member of 222 squadron and was promoted to lead 242 squadron. His skill as an aviator and contribution as an outstanding leader and fighter ace during WW2, along with his continuous attempts to escape prisoner of war camp after he was shot down, was immortalised in the book and film ‘Reach for the Sky

The Douglas Bader Foundation is a charitable organisation, formed in honour of Sir Douglas Bader in 1982 by family and friends, many of whom had flown side by side with Douglas during World War 2. Douglas was honoured in 1976 with a Knighthood for his contribution and work on behalf of disabled people. The mission of the foundation is to continue Douglas’ work in conjunction with and on behalf of individuals with a disability.

‘A disabled person who fights back is not disabled….but inspired’

It is this maxim that our charitable foundation established in Douglas’s name immediately following his death in 1982, seeks to replicate and develop.

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Pilot, Nathan Doidge, a Bader Grant recipient and DBF Ambassador with Charley Bickers

You can click here to download a pdf of the above. It will open in a new window so can be printed if required.

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  1 comment for “DBF Reach for the Sky Campaign!

  1. July 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    This is a brilliant idea

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