And last week he was driving a fighter jet!
Blind adventurer Miles Hilton-Barber, who made history last week by becoming the first blind person to pilot a jet fighter plane, is aiming for another first when he joins the teams of the 2007 Zapcat National Championship in Bournemouth this weekend.
Raising funds for charity, Miles wants to become the first blind person to pilot one of the high-performance 340bhp Zapcats, which are capable of speeds of up to 50mph and pulling more than 2G in the turns.
Miles, 58, lost his sight more than 25 years ago but in the last six years alone has set numerous world records while undertaking extreme endurance events in Siberia and across the Sahara, Gobi, Qatar and Mojave Deserts.
He has also climbed in the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Blanc, scuba-dived on wrecks beneath the Red Sea, hot-air ballooned over the Nevada Desert, man-hauled a sledge over 400 kilometres across Antarctica and set the world lap record for a blind driver on the Malaysian Grand Prix Circuit. He is the first blind person to fly the English Channel in a microlight and holds the British duel microlight high-altitude record, climbing to 20,300 feet.
In March this year he captured the world’s imagination undertaking another world record by completing a 55-day, 21,500-kilometre microlight flight more than half-way around the world from London to Sydney, Australia, relying on revolutionary speech-output technology, accompanied by his sighted co-pilot.
Earlier this month Miles became the first blind pilot in world history to fly a sortie of extreme aerobatics at more than 600mph in a Hawker Hunter jet fighter, accompanied by an ex-Red Arrows pilot, setting a blind world air speed record in the process.
He will be raising money for the charity Seeing is Believing which is aiming to raise £5 million by World Sight Day 2010, helping to eradicate preventable blindness in children in the developing world through cataract operations and other medical procedures.
All funds raised by Miles through his Zapcat challenge will be doubled by the Standard Chartered Bank, which also meets all the administrative costs of the charity, ensuring every penny raised goes direct to the medical costs of the sight restoration programme.
“It only costs £30 to remove cataracts from a child’s eyes and give them back their sight,” says Miles. “It’s such a small amount of money. I’ll never see again in this life but if I can give children the gift of sight it will all be worth it.”
Co-pilot for Miles’s challenge will be George “Boris” Stroud from Ellon, Aberdeenshire. He will be piloting the same boat, 09 Marin Subsea / Delta Jets, in the Championship.
Miles will be starting his challenge following the 10.30am safety briefing and before the pre-race practise sessions begin on Saturday 1 September at West Beach, next to the pier in Bournemouth.