Manual wheelchairs of all brands, types, shapes and sizes were strapped together to pull a 128 tonne Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a successful attempt to break a Guinness World Record.
The group of 98 wheelchair users, strapped together in nine lines of 11 users, smashed the previous record for the heaviest aircraft pulled over 100 metres, which was a 67 tonne plane pulled by a Belgian team.
Participants included security officers, volunteers and operational staff from across Heathrow, some of who were not wheelchair users themselves. One of the participants, Syd Smith, described the effort as “like a tug of war in reverse”.
He told North Norfolk News: “We were all shocked because we thought the start was going to be hard but when we got going it was worse and when we got 50m in people started not being able to push as hard. I was screaming out at people to keep going.”
The Wheels4Wings record event was held in support of Aerobility and the money raised will help people with disabilities to learn to fly. More than £15,000 was raised for the charity.
The event also celebrated Heathrow’s new mandatory process for airlines, which will see passengers arriving at the airport automatically reunited with their personal wheelchairs at the entrance to the aircraft, when they descend.
Organiser of the event, Heathrow aircraft operations manager, Andy Knight, said, “As a wheelchair user myself, a former pilot and an aviation enthusiast, I am committed to supporting Aerobility and I am proud of the role Heathrow has taken to support its diversity and inclusion goals.”
“I hope today will see the team raise a lot of funds for Aerobility’s fantastic causes, but also foster a greater awareness of the unique challenges people with disabilities face in aviation, and push for improvements for their benefit – whether they choose to be a passenger in an aircraft or at the controls.”