‘What else am I capable of?’ Disabled woman from Hackney achieves dream of learning to fly – thanks to charity scholarship

Malky Padwa during a flying lesson. Photograph: Aerobility

A disabled woman from Hackney has been learning the basics of flying – fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Malky Padwa, 33, has early onset generalised dystonia – a condition that causes uncontrolled movements such as tremors and involuntary muscle contractions.

She has long held an ambition to fly a plane and go on to earn a private pilot licence (PPL).

After being spurred on by a friend, Padwa decided to apply for a scholarship with Aerobility, a UK charity that provides anyone, with any disability, access to the world of aviation.

She was successful, and has since had a number of flying lessons, describing the opportunity as an “honour and a privilege”.

Padwa said the experience has had a hugely positive impact on her life.

Padwa in front of the Aerobility plane. Photograph: Aerobility

“It has given me so much more confidence and belief in myself,” she explained. “It has made me rethink my capabilities. If I can fly a plane, what else am I capable of?

“It also gives me a tremendous moral boost when my parents, siblings and close friends see what I can achieve and are as proud of me as I am of myself.

“It also helped me to really assess myself as to what I can do physically and push to achieve more coordination and controlled movements.

“That is besides the amount it has helped me towards my ultimate goal – learning to fly a plane and working towards trying to obtain a PPL.

“The instructors at Aerobility did everything to accommodate and adapt to my needs.”

Mike Miller-Smith, the charity’s CEO, said: “We offer scholarships to ensure anyone can fly with Aerobility, we know how participating in aviation changes lives and we want as many people as possible to experience that.

“We can only do this because of the generosity of our donors and supporters from across the world of aviation, so we thank them very much indeed for making this possible for Malky.”

To find out more about the flying charity, visit aerobility.com.