Wind tunnel skydiving session for limbless veterans ahead of Armed Forces Day

A group of limbless veterans have taken part in a wind tunnel skydiving session ahead of Armed Forces Day.

Former Paratrooper Al Hodgson, who lost both legs serving for the armed forces in Northern Ireland in 1992, was joined by 16 ex-servicemen and women from charity Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, at iFLY Manchester.

Among the veterans included Invictus Games competitor Lisa Johnston, who lost her left leg while serving as an Army medic, and Sgt Rick Clement who lost his legs while on duty in Afghanistan.

Over the last 20 years Mr Hodgson has completed more than 7,000 outdoor jumps and won multiple competitions, including a silver medal at the 2010 FAI World Skydiving Championships.

He said: “Skydiving in a wind tunnel is pure fun, there’s no other way to describe it. It really doesn’t matter how many times you do it, it still gives you a thrill.

“I’d definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about giving it a go. Get in there and have a whale of a time! Skydiving is great for building your confidence again when you’ve suffered from high levels of trauma.”

Trevor Haines, UK manager at iFLY indoor skydiving, said: “We’ve accompanied Al on his journey as a skydiver for many years and are delighted to appoint him as an iFLY Inclusivity Ambassador. We’re passionate about making the dream of flight a reality for people of all ages and all abilities and hope that his experience will inspire others to get involved – it really is the most incredible feeling.

“It’s been amazing to have veterans from Blesma here today to enjoy the experience too. We’ve had complete newbies give it a go, as well as those who have experienced it before.”

Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces, takes place on Saturday with a series of events planned across the nation.