WHEN Captain Luke Sinnott woke up in hospital after being caught up in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, he wished he could turn the clock back.
The Royal Engineer from Hampshire felt desperately low as he struggled to come to terms with losing both his legs and suffering severe injuries to his left arm from a improvised explosive device in Helmand Province.
Now the 32-year-old from New Milton is bidding to be on top of the world next year when he tries what no able-bodied person has ever done before – fly a microlight 3,000 miles over the South Pole.
Cruising at altitudes of up to 10,000ft in temperatures as low as -30C (-22F), the expedition will attempt to achieve three world firsts – the first flexible wing flight in Antarctica, the first over the South Pole and the first over Mount Vinson, which is the continent’s highest peak at 16,050ft. “I’m worried if my body’s up to the task. I have got to watch out for my stumps. If I start having problems with them then I will be struggling,” Luke told the Daily Echo.
“I’ve got a lot of scar tissue especially in my arm. If I’ve got no feeling then I won’t be able to feel frostbite.
“But flying to the South Pole is a darn sight easier than walking.”
Luke lost both legs above the knee in the blast and his left arm was severely damaged when an improvised explosive device was detonated while he was trying to dismantle another one.
Doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham worked frantically to save his arm but it was eight months before he started to get any feeling back.
Before taking part in the flight Luke will have to undertake pilot training and cold weather training but he will be the first double above-knee amputee to reach the South Pole if he makes it.
Luke – whose wife is expecting the birth of their first son next month – will be part of a seven-strong team in a mission known as Flying For Freedom, in partnership with the charity Help for Heroes.
The expedition is part of a programme to establish a number of flying recovery centres around the UK for injured and disabled servicemen and women.