Flying festival for little Olivia

Brad Olsen airborne. There are expected to be dozens of machines like his at the festival. EMN-170119-173754001
Brad Olsen airborne. There are expected to be dozens of machines like his at the festival. EMN-170119-173754001

A paramotoring and light aircraft festival is planned by a group of enthusiasts in aid of the family of a little girl who is not expected to live beyond the age of four.

The four-day event is planned for this August 4-7 and is being organised by Brad Olsen of Greylees and fellow paramotorers Rachel Horn, Dan Couzens and Kim Miller.

Brad Olsen with little Olivia. EMN-170119-173744001

Brad Olsen with little Olivia. EMN-170119-173744001

Paramotors are strap-on propellors powering pilots suspended from parachutes across Lincolnshire skies.

It will be held at Star Fen, Heckington, already used by Brad for take-offs. Brad explains: “I have a disabled son with mild cerebral palsy and partial deafness. He was born three months premature.”

The 47-year-old builder wanted to do something to help a local cause and met two-year-old Olivia Butler and her family, from Woodhall Spa after getting in touch via Facebook. According to doctors, Olivia probably only has a couple more years to live and so Brad wants to provide some respite by sending the whole family on holiday.

He said: “Their house has been turned into a hospital and they don’t get any time off at all as there is a constant threat that she will die as she has around 200 epileptic seizures a day. Olivia can hardly see, has impaired hearing and lots of other problems.”

The event organising team. From left - Dan Couzens, Kim Miller, Brad Olson and Rachel Horn. EMN-170119-173733001

The event organising team. From left - Dan Couzens, Kim Miller, Brad Olson and Rachel Horn. EMN-170119-173733001

Her dad has also had to take time off sick as well.

Fellow pilots have been keen to contribute. Brad said the event is not for profit: “If we could raise £1,000 to £2,000 that would be great.”

The majority of the money would be spent on the specialist vehicle, support staff and equipment needed to travel with Olivia.

As well as paramotor and microlight pilots flying in and out, there will be live music on the Saturday evening, a hog roast, trade stands (businesses are donating a large share of profits), refreshments, bouncy castles and have-a-go archery. They are also hoping to have a ‘wing walker’ display.

Already they have sold about £1,200 in tickets so there should be a lot of flying, creating a fantastic spectacle.

Brad has been flying for six years and loves the freedom: “Where else can you pull on a machine from your car boot and fly for 60 to 70 miles. I go to Rutland water or Skegness and have a cup of tea. You see the wildlife below and it is just escapism.”

Anyone interested in attending or helping offset the cost by offering toilets or food facilities can visit Facebook page titled lighaircraftfestival or call 07584033593.