14th Flying Day for disabled people 24.6.2023
An A-Z flight for people with special needs
After three years of “COVID abstinence” it was finally happening again. Together with its honorary member, the Stockerau Flying Club (FSV2000), the Lazarus Union was happy to hold a flight day for people with special needs for the 14th time. However, as it has already become established, we all simply call this day “Disabled People’s Flying Day”. We really made an effort to create a nice event for our guests. The “Behindertenhilfe Korneuburg”, the “Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehbehinderten” and many other guests took part. The motto was: “A flight from A-Z for people with special needs”. All flights, beverages and catering, support was (as always) free of charge for our guests and was financed from the proceeds (without any other sponsors!) from our WEB SHOP’s revenues.
We wanted to give the illusion of a real ” world of flight” by creating a “flight journey”, from the announcement, to the decision to take a flight, to get a “ticket”, to go to the “airport, to do the “check-in” and the security check, the boarding, the waiting in front of the gate, the walk across the runway to the plane or helicopter, the boarding assisted by flight assistants, the welcome by the pilot, the flight itself (see flight plan and flight route), the landing, the way back to the specially erected marquee (our “airport restaurant”), where this flight experience then came to an end with food and drink and the exchange of experiences, to our guests (some of whom had never been airborne before). We really succeeded. At the beginning, the weather almost threw a spanner in the works, as low clouds and rain prevented us from flying and flights had to be rescheduled. Just like it happens in the real aviation world. As in previous years, the Lazarus Union also provided the medical service with two emergency doctors and four paramedics. There were no health incidents to report.
In this report we would therefore like to describe (among other things) this motto and the implementation and document the individual sections and stations with many pictures as a reminder.
After the Lazarus Union ( regretfully ) does not have excessive means (not least by three years CORONA), because these are earned exclusively by the WEB SHOP itself and the Lazarus Union neither “subsidies” nor “begs” for other means, we planned first the flight day with a helicopter (AB-206) and three aeroplanes (Cessna-172). That was a planned 22 flights. In the end, there were a total of 50 flights!
Within 48 hours after the announcement on our homepage we were not only fully booked but also (hopelessly) overbooked. So we had to look for additional aircraft and we found them. Two additional aircraft and one additional helicopter were the result of our “search”. For this we would like to thank the Fliegergruppe Wien, the personalities Dr.Christoph Auner, Bernhard Mayerhofer and AERIAL-Helicopter GmbH. After we sadly had to stop the registration, we were then able to serve all the registrations received and, with the help of our partner organisations (they took over the work and the tasks of the “travel agency” of our “fictitious flight trip”), to distribute the flight vouchers (“tickets”) fairly and to collect the “contracts of carriage” (see also security check).
The arrival was organised privately by bus and private vehicles and the arrivals by the cooperating organisations, depending on the planned flight times, in order to avoid crowding here as well. Everything worked out wonderfully. Accompanied by really dedicated caregivers who were very familiar with the special needs of their entrusted persons and thus supported our flight assistants and auxiliary services in the best and most excellent way. Sincere thanks to all these helpers as well.
It might only be a small airfield, but it is perfectly suited for such events. Even the approach to the runway from the cockpit is a first-time and therefore unique experience for many of our guests. Here are some impressions of it.
Just like in the departure hall of a real airport, we set up a separate “check-in counter” for each aircraft and helicopter. This meant that our guests only had to show their ticket, get a “control sticker” stuck on their ticket and were able to pass through security about 10 minutes before boarding and wait in the departure area for their flight. Compared to previous flight days, this was easy, comfortable and uncomplicated for everyone.
The security check
This was not a security check (with baggage check and the like, as we were not expecting any “terrorists”) in the usual sense. They only checked whether the name of the guest written on the ticket matched the passenger list and whether there was a “contract of carriage” (this is required by the authorities in the aviation law for private free round flights). Because: Without a contract of carriage, no sightseeing flight.
The waiting area
After the security check, our passengers were met in the waiting area by our flight assistants and prepared for the flight and especially for boarding. Each aircraft and helicopter was allocated its own waiting bench so that everyone had a maximum overview. The markings on the benches corresponded to the information on the ticket and everyone knew immediately where their seat was in which aircraft or helicopter. From there we went directly to the planned flight.
The way to the planes/helicopters
From the departure area, accompanied by the flight assistants, we walked across the runway to the planes and helicopters. This is not without danger without an escort, as there are also rolling aircraft here whose movements cannot be safely assessed by laypersons.
Before passengers approach, the so-called “Gebel protectors” are mounted on the wings of the aircraft. The rear ends of the wings are very sharp and at eye level. If care is not taken, one can easily injure oneself in the excitement and hectic. The “Gebel protectors” (an invention of our comrade Josef-Maria Gebel, who has sadly passed away) prevent this by covering and protecting these edges with foam rolls.
The flight route was chosen in such a way that the most important points around the Stockerau airfield were approached. This was not always possible, as the pilots had to adhere to the prescribed safety distances and the requirements of air traffic control. After all, the “Donauinselfest 2023” was taking place at the same time, with hundreds of thousands of visitors. But it was the flight experience itself that thrilled our guests. And, more importantly, no one felt sick! Which again speaks for our pilots.
The landing and getting out
Similarly, watch out after landing and when disembarking. For example, you may only leave the aircraft when the tried and tested “Gebel protectors” are back in place and the team leader gives the OK. The preceding “adrenaline kick” can cause carelessness with consequences. Our flight assistants at our 14th flight day for people with special needs are well aware of this and are prepared to escort our guests safely back to the “airport restaurant” after their flights.
The “airport restaurant“
In the neighbourhood of the check-in and the departure waiting area we built a time for our guests with tables and benches to offer shelter even in rain and sun. Here the guests could comfortably wait for their flight, consume the food vouchers and exchange their experiences and impressions after the flights. Special thanks again to the comrades of our honorary member, the Flugsportverein Stockerau FSV2000, who set up this time one week before the flying day.
Due to the cheerful and relaxed atmosphere, nobody really wanted to keep to the planned departure times and so many of our dear guests stayed with us for a long time and we could continue to socialise comfortably and with the best catering (all guests received free food and drink vouchers).
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated helpers from Behindertenhilfe Korneuburg for the excellent catering. A heartfelt thank you is more than appropriate here. We believe that you can’t do it any better or more committed than this. Sincere thanks go of course to the Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehbehinderten and the more than sixty volunteers of the Lazarus Union, without whose commitment it would not have been possible to hold this event accident-free, without complications, as harmoniously and as fortunately as it went. Let’s see if we can do it again in 2024.
But that was by no means the end of the event. Our partner and honorary member, the FSV2000, organised an extensive programme for many other guests and visitors during the two days of the 2023 airfield festival, and our guests were able to take part in it. Incredible flights with model aircraft (in the air, these were very difficult to distinguish from “real” aircraft). Formation flights, parachute jumps, helicopter flight simulator, airworthy vintage aircraft, exhibition, modern small aircraft, bouncy castle for children and of course trial flights with the modern training fleet (Katana DV20) of the FSV2000.
One of the absolute highlights from a flying point of view were the spectator flights with the Antonov AN2. This type of aircraft was already used in World War II for mainly Russian transport flights and is still the largest single-engine (11 cylinders with 33 litres of displacement and over 1000 hp) flying biplane in the world. These aircraft still fly today in rather inhospitable areas, without proper take-off and landing runways, far from civilisation and “maintenance bases”. There is capacity for 15 passengers in an AN2 and it only takes one pilot (with two pilots providing additional safety) to fly such an aircraft. But there are only a few qualified pilots who can really do it. Such a flight is a real experience! The Lazarus Union was also jointly responsible for the smooth “ground service” here. And it was great fun for everyone (guests and helpers).
For the cooperation since 2007 (over 16 years), Mrs. Ivana Djorjevic from the Auxiliary Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired was honoured with a very high award twelve flight helpers were awarded the Silver Fliegerschwing for flight helpers (after completing the theory and practice on the flight day).
At 11 p.m. there was a final fireworks display, which our guests unfortunately did not have the opportunity to experience, as the bus had already picked up our tired but satisfied visitors late in the afternoon for the return journey. Those who were able to stay were enthusiastic about this firing on the first day of the airfield festival.
On the second day of the airfield festival our helpers were no longer in action for the Lazarus Union, but were content with an information stand of the Lazarus Union, where we could lead many discussions about our goals, views and our world-wide organisation with the visitors and distribute information folders. But we also did the “ground service” for the AN-2 on this day. It is also worth mentioning that comrades from Pakistan and Jordan travelled especially and at their own expense to take part in our flight day and to make their contribution. Great!
Besides our guest flights for people with special needs, there were also lots of other attractions on display. Besides aircraft oldtimers and their replicas, we could all experience aerobatics, model flights and formation flights together. Here are some impressions of them.
It was a very nice and fulfilling weekend. May many more such days follow!
Author and writer:
Alexander Schussmann (Many, many thanks for the video!!!)
Translated into Englich by: