Featured On BBC Breakfast News & BBC OUCH 29/07/2018
Great Britain’s First Disabled Air Display Team Get’s Ready For Take Off
‘Bader’s Bus Company’, the first British disabled air display team, are set to launch. The team, created in memory of the World War 2 Spitfire ace and double amputee Sir Douglas Bader will be making their first performance at Blackbushe airfield on September 5th. The date marks the anniversary of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader’s death and David Bickers CEO of the foundation states that ‘he could not be more excited about the prospect’. ‘We can think of no better way to honour his memory’ he said and adds that he ‘is certain that the creation of the first British air display team is a legacy of which Douglas would have been extremely proud’.
The project was the brainchild of Charley Bickers the Grandson of Sir Douglas Bader and it has been three years in the making. ‘Big Ideas don’t happen overnight, and this is a very ambitious project’ he explained. ‘Even just selecting the pilots has been a long process. Initially we began with thirteen very capable disabled pilots but this is potentially very dangerous and we knew that only the best and most experienced pilots would make it through to the final team’. The team is beginning its life as a three ship formation with the hope to grow larger as time goes on. Mike Wildeman, team captain, amputee and pilot for Virgin describes it as ‘the most exciting thing he has ever done in his life’.
The Team draws its name from RAF history. ‘It had been Douglas Bader’s normal routine, mindful of the need for minimal radio use, to announce his squadron’s arrival over the French coast with the brief transmission “Bader’s Bus Company on Time!”. When Douglas failed to return from a dog-fight on 8th of August 1942 the entire Tangmere station went into a state of shock with many fearing the worst. To great relief, three days later news of his survival promoted Johnnie Jonson and other Tangmere pilots to paint their Spitfires with the defiant slogan ‘Bader’s Bus Company Still Running’.
When asked why he decided to create the team Charley Bickers states ‘I want to remind people of my Grandfather’s story because it is too important to be forgotten. His determination to never give up, never give in no matter what life throws at you has been a source of hope and inspiration to so many and I would like that to continue for many years to come’.
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