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Pilots pull together for charity

by Mark Keane BA pilot rep

Three airline pilots are rowing 200 miles in just three days in a bid to raise £50,000 for charity.

Senior First Officer Steve McLean, Captain Carl Bagshaw, and Training Captain Rob Mead will be rowing from Barcelona to Ibiza this July to raise money for the NOMAN is an island campaign, which aims to educate and raise awareness of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) related cancer epidemic in both men and women.

HPV infects virtually everyone – 80 per cent of the population will have HPV at some point in their lifetime, and HPV-related oral cancer is the fastest increasing type of cancer in healthy men in many developed countries.

“The good news is that HPV can be prevented by a cheap, safe and effective vaccine, and eliminating this cancer is what we aim to do,” explains Steve.

“That vaccine will help to prevent five per cent of cancers worldwide.”

Pushing themselves to both mental and physical extremes, the trio have already started intense training for the event, and are calling on their fellow pilots for support.

Steve said: “£50,000 seems a huge target, but with your help we can achieve it.”

You can make a donation to support Steve’s efforts here.

But that’s not where Steve’s good-hearted nature stops.

Only a few weeks ago, he was hailed a hero by colleagues after rushing to the rescue of a diverted flight after the co-pilot fell ill mid-flight.

Steve was on board the aircraft within just 40 minutes of receiving a message asking for help, enabling the aircraft to continue its journey to Heathrow with only minor delays.

Flight BA082 from Abuja, Nigeria, to Heathrow was diverted to Barcelona on 12th February as the unwell co-pilot started to feel dizzy and faint on the flight deck.

To ensure passengers arrived at Heathrow safely and with as little delay as possible, British Airways pilots who lived nearby were called upon to see if any of them were able to step in and fly the final leg of the flight.
Luckily Steve got the message, and arrived at Barcelona airport just 15 minutes later.

Steve, who has flown for British Airways for 10 years, said: “I got a text and zipped down to the airport – I think the crew were pretty pleased to see me.”

Commanding the flight, Captain Mark Hillas was particularly happy to have Steve on board – the pair are old friends and play together on the British Airways Flight Deck five-a-side football team.

Steve helped the flight crew make the final leg of the journey back to Heathrow while the unwell co-pilot was taken to hospital in Barcelona.

Fortunately, he was cleared to return home the next day.

“We were on stand two hours late,” said Steve “but, considering what had happened, that’s pretty good.”