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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


He's landed in Sydney, completing a record-breaking journey that's taken him halfway round the world. That too in a microlight aircraft! He started his flight of faith on March 7th and since then he's covered 21,000 kilometres or 13,500 miles.

Why am I telling you this?

It's because 58-year-old British adventurer Miles Hilton-Barber is nothing like what you've seen or heard before.

He started losing his sight at the age of 21, but that didn't stop him from dreaming about his flight of fancy.

"Don't let anybody tell you, if you can live your dreams or not," he said with the spirit of conviction that marks every word he utters and every move he makes.

Listening to him talk about his passion for speed and challenge, it's hard not to start questioning yourself about the limits we often end up setting for ourselves. "All of us need to realise we can do more than we think," he told me, making this one of my most memorable lines. "The bigger you dream, the higher you achieve."

Not that everything came easily to him. He recalls being inspired by his blind brother, who sailed solo from South Africa to Australia eight years ago. "That's what made me realise the problem in my life wasn't my blindness, it was my attitude to my blindness."

I met him for all of five minutes and he was quickly packing in all his quote-worthy quips. They flow so naturally, they almost seem like the whole purpose of his being.

After that short meeting, I went back to read more about him and have been following every step of his journey. Among his many other credits - he is the first blind man to have completed the lap circuit at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

He became a pilot when everyone told him blind men can't fly. Today, he flies with a sighted co-pilot but relies on speech output from his navigation instruments to steer his course, directing the plane from a wireless keyboard.

When he's not flying, he's scaling new heights - conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest mountain or Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak. If you think the credit roll stops right there, hold your breath.

In 1999, Hilton-Barber completed the 'Toughest Foot-race on Earth' that took him 250
kilometres across the Sahara Desert, before embarking on the 'Coldest Marathon
on Earth' - the Siberian Ice Marathon.

Attitude, he rightly says, determines altitude.

And he's helping changing attitudes and raising funds wherever he goes. He's supporting the Seeing is Believing campaign.

Hilton-Barber's campaign hopes to raise over a million dollars through his microlight adventure. If you can't take on the skies, you can still make a difference by clicking online.

I can't think of a more appropriate quote to end this post, than one from the man himself:
"The only limits in your life are those you accept yourself!"

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