Chocks away for round the world flight

editorial image

A Forfar teddy bear is living up to his name by undertaking an epic round-the-world flight to raise money for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

James Bigglesworth Bear, the mascot of 2231 (Forfar) Squadron, Air Training Corps, took off from Perth Airport on Monday on the first leg of the 30,000-mile flight as a passenger with former Scottish Aero Club chairman Dave McElroy.

Mr McElroy is aiming to complete the flight in his single-engine Piper Comanche in 80 days.

He began planning for the flight two years ago with the aim of raising funds jointly for SCAA and the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital in his native city.

At the same time, 2231 Squadron’s mascot, named after the First World War fighter pilot Biggles in the classic adventure stories by Captain W.E. Johns, has been attempting his own world record for the most number of different aircraft types flown by a teddy bear.

To date he has more than 60 types recorded in his official logbook, including the iconic Spitfire and a Vulcan bomber.

He has also flown supersonic in a Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter, looped-the loop with the Red Arrows and completed a parachute jump.

The Forfar cadets will be seeking sponsorship and undertaking a number of other fund-raising events in support of their mascot’s latest adventure, with all proceeds going to SCAA.

The round-the-world flight is planned to be completed at Perth on August 6 at approximately 6 p.m. The aircraft is fitted with a satellite tracking system, enabling supporters to follow the progress of Mr McElroy and James Bigglesworth via the FlyRTW80 website.

Dave and James Bigglesworth were waved off on the first leg of their journey to the South of France on Monday morning by John Swinney MSP.

SCAA launched in May last year and is supported entirely by voluntary donations. From its base at Perth Airport it is able to reach 90 per cent of Scotland’s population within 25 minutes.

It has already flown more than 20,000 miles and has been involved in more than 230 time-critical emergency call-outs.