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News > Alumni News > OJ Eddie, aged 78 Undertakes a Wing Walk and a 330 ft Abseil for Charity

OJ Eddie, aged 78 Undertakes a Wing Walk and a 330 ft Abseil for Charity

Eddie Prescott (Class of 1960) undertook two sponsored challenges for the Kent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance:

31 Mar 2020
Alumni News

The first challenge was a 330 feet abseil down the Emirates Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth,  and the second,  & perhaps even more exciting - or daunting! - a Wingwalk on a Boeing Stearman bi-plane at RFC Rendcomb, a former WW 1 airfield.

This thirst for adventure at perhaps a surprising time of life, all began two years ago, when Eddie had a flight in a Jet Provost Mk.V and after instruction, was allowed to perform aerobatic rolls and loops after which, Eddie was recovering from the effect of the heightened gravitational effect!

After flying out across the Suffolk coast and out over the North Sea, the pilot then took the aircraft down to a level of 12 feet above the sea, which was even lower than Eddie’s stepfather had flown during the war (when flying a rocket- laden Mosquito FBVI from the famous Banff Strike Wing) across the North Sea to attack German ships carrying Swedish iron ore, which were sheltering by day in the Norwegian fjords.

This experience whetted Eddie’s appetite for further adventures, and so he decided to do two sponsored challenges for the Kent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance which also happened to be the headline charity of President Elect Phil Higgins of The Rotary Club of Tonbridge where Eddie is a Past President.

Once the bookings were made, Eddie then got to work seeking sponsorship with the objective of reaching a total of £3,700, which is the cost of any one life- saving mission flown by the Air Ambulance.

He quickly found a tremendous level of support overall for his two ventures, and particularly from his fellow members of The Rotary Club of Tonbridge and OJ friends, although the almost stereotype response that he received from his sponsors when they learnt about the challenges he was doing was -  “You must be mad!”

On the day of the abseil at the Emirates Spinnaker,  the air temperature was very warm  and there was no wind.  In other words perfect conditions.

On checking-in,  Eddie noticed  there was a team of five young ladies who planned to do  a sponsored abseil for the Cervical Cancer charity, & at the same time as him.

When they were all safely harnessed & reached the high level Spinnaker platform, the instructor said  “ right, who’s going first?’  At this, the ladies all pointed at Eddie and chorused, “he is !”, and so it was.

Five minutes later, and after a descent of 330 feet, his feet touched the ground and a cheer went up from his supporters comprising family & friends who were all suitably sporting the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance blue T-shirts.

One challenge down and one to go.

As the day of the Wingwalk down in Gloucestershire approached ,it was apparent that the weather was becoming more and more unsettled and finally his booking was brought forward by 24 hours, which was just as well because it missed  a period of heavy rain.

The group that was responsible for safety aspects on the day were all members of the AeroSuperBatics display team, most recently known as the Breitling Wingwalkers, a regular at air shows throughout Europe, China and the Middle East as well as displaying at events in Japan ,India and even as far away as Australia.

The most important thing as far as Eddie was concerned, was that they had a 100% safety record & this  gave him a nice warm comfortable feeling.

When his turn came, he climbed up onto the top wing of the Boeing Stearman biplane,  was strapped tightly onto his chair, and told that if he wanted to abort his flight at any time, he should hold his arms outstretched with his thumbs pointing down.

The pilot would then do a rapid descent and landing, however, luckily the important advice never had to be put into practice.

A little while later, the radial engine spluttered & puffed out a plume of smoke, before the propeller accelerated to its taxiing speed. The biplane then started its rather bumpy journey  across the field before turning to take off.

The flight itself lasted about 12 minutes and comprised a series of low and high level manoeuvres with some fairly sharp dips and turns.

The lasting memory, which was a small part of a unique experience ,was of the 120 mph wind which caused the cheeks to ripple at high speed and and gave the sensation of a loose collar rapidly hitting  both sides of the face at the same time.

All in all it was a wonderful and extremely memorable experience to add to that of the flight in the Jet Provost MkV.

The icing on the cake came when the final sponsorship proceeds were counted and totalled a massive £4,700! 

Since the  target of £3,700 had been easily achieved, it would now allow all those that sponsored Eddie to be able to look up in the air whenever they saw the Air Ambulance flying overhead, and to think that that particular life-saving mission could be the one that they paid for. 

Well done Eddie! The OJ Community are all very impressed by your bravery and wonderful amount of money you raised for such a worthy cause! Check out the photo album below: 

If you have done something exciting of note recently and to keep us all entertained during the UK's current confinement, please send your story and a few photos to:  Thank you!










To view this photo gallery

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