SYDNEY, Australia – A blind British adventurer touched down in Sydney on Monday to end an epic 13,500-mile flight by microlight aircraft from London.
Miles Hilton-Barber, a 58-year-old father of three, braved snowstorms, freezing temperatures and torrential downpours during his 54-day journey under the supervision of sighted co-pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy, 46.
"It's the fulfillment of an amazing dream," Hilton-Barber told reporters at Sydney's Bankstown airport.
"I've wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid. Now I'm totally blind and I've had the privilege of flying more than halfway around the world," he added.
Hilton-Barber, who lost his eyesight to a hereditary condition about 20 years ago, is hoping the trip will raise US$2 million for the charity Seeing is Believing, which works for the prevention of blindness in developing countries.
He took to the skies from Biggin Hill air base in south London on March 7 in a microlight aircraft — which looks like a cross between a tricycle and a motorized hang-glider — with the aid of an audio device that reads out navigational information such as air speed and altitude.
Hilton-Barber has also conquered Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, run marathons in the Sahara and Gobi deserts, and even attempted to reach the South Pole, hauling a sledge over 250 miles of Antarctic ice.