A Ponteland man has soaring ambitions for his charity after building up support.
And moves are under way for Stratus to provide medical assistance across the country and overseas.
Pilot James Moon established it two years ago to provide flight experiences for terminally ill, disabled and disadvantaged people. He and other aviation professionals work with 15 charities in the UK to set up 30-minute sessions in a small aircraft.
Based at the Northumbria Flying School in the grounds of Newcastle Airport, Stratus is going from strength to strength after gaining some corporate sponsorship from a range of sources including Avalon Aero and The Adderstone Foundation.
Mr Moon said: “It hasn’t been easy to grow the charity – at first we had collection tins outside shops and supermarkets – but we’ve made steady progress and we’re generally seeing an increase in the number of flights we do each month.
“I’m delighted to be doing something I love and at the same time providing something that will bring joy to others less fortunate. Many of the people who go on the flight experience say they feel a sense of freedom and they never thought that this activity would have been possible for them.
“We’re grateful to all the businesses and organisations that have come on board as sponsors, as well as BIM Creative which put together our website for a nominal fee.
“I’m very positive for the future of the charity. We had a takeover approach in January, but we turned it down because all of us see the potential in what we’re trying to achieve.
“We’re also looking to grow our presence in the USA and Canada. A few private aircraft owners in both countries heard about the charity and with our support, they are doing flights for terminally ill and disabled people.”
The initial name for the charity was Little Wings and the 20-year-old added that this brand, with the slogan of ‘changing lives through the power of flight’, is going to be used for medical initiatives.
He is in talks with hospitals to set up a partnership arrangement and Stratus is building up a team of opticians for Save Our Sight. The aim of this scheme is to help treat preventable blindness within developing countries.
On Monday, 14-year-old Danny Duffy, who suffers from autism, enjoyed a flight experience on his birthday that covered Newcastle and Tynemouth.
Glenda Trewick of Gateshead Council, who helps to look after Danny, said: “He wasn’t going to bed at the right time on a night and it was affecting his schoolwork, so we used the flight day as a praise and reward and it worked.
“It’s fantastic that James is providing this opportunity for people and Danny will have learned a great deal as he wants to be an aircraft engineer when he’s older.”
If you know anyone meeting the criteria who would benefit from going on this flight experience, visit www.stratusflying.com for more information.