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TV ads scupper pilot's moment of glory
12:10pm Friday 31st August 2012 in News
A DISABLED war hero’s live flypast during the Paralympic opening ceremony was not seen by a TV audience of millions – because of advert breaks.
David Rawlins, 24, pictured below, had spent months preparing for his flight over the Olympic stadium but illtimed commercials meant his family did not see it live on Channel 4.
Only the last few seconds of his scene-stealing appearance over the skies of Stratford were shown.
A pre-recorded video about David, of Nursling , did not air either.
It was only when the pilot landed that he found out what had happened, ruining the chances of celebrating his historic flight with his family.
He said: “It’s quite disheartening really. You want people to see what you have been working on for the last four months.
“The rest of my family have all heard about the hard work that went into it and they didn’t get to see it.”
Only those among the 80,000 audience inside the stadium got the chance to see the flypast and video but not his family, including his girlfriend, Charlotte Carroll, 21, from Upper Shirley who were watching on TV.
“I think it was really poorly done,” said Charlotte.
“All family and friends in Southampton missed this once-in-a-lifetime event because of Channel 4.”
David, who served with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, lost the use of his right leg and hip in 2008 while the patrol vehicle carrying him in Afghanistan rolled in a ditch, crushing him in the process.
It was only last year that he got involved with Aerobility, a charity that helps the disabled learn to fly, and it was their Technam aircraft that he flew above the stadium.
The decision to show adverts during the ceremony caused a backlash from viewers, with many sections of the ceremony missed. While the teams entered the stadium some countries were missed due to the commercials.
David’s family were able to see more of his flypast later on the BBC News but not his pre-recorded video.
Charlotte added that other media outlets had showed footage of his flight – but failed to broadcast David’s correct name.
A Channel 4 spokesman said: “We took the decision to run less advertising during the opening ceremony than would usually be broadcast in our peak time programming but Channel 4 is a commercially funded public service broadcaster and advertising allows us to invest in original programming and events such as the Paralympics.”
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