Helifirst - a world first for spinal injury

Helifirst is Sam Bailey’s dream to become the first quadriplegic in the world to fly a helicopter, then fly into schools to inspire children to fulfil their own dreams. Sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, it requires modification of a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter which is currently underway. Sam hopes to start learning to fly later this year and launch the project soon after.

This project has been a team effort.

  • Australia's largest bank, Commonwealth Bank, is providing sponsorship                                                                                                       
  • The modification is being designed and certified by one of Australia’s most experienced aviation engineering firms, Auto Avia Designs Pty Ltd of Sydney
  • Al McVinish of Aviation Specialists, Toowoomba, is assisting in the design and installing the modification into the helicopter, supported by Russell Kelly of Quality Avionics, Archerfield, Brisbane.
  • The R44 which has been made available for Sam to modify and fly is owned by Toowoomba businessman Gregg Wagner
  • Former Army Black Hawk pilot and double amputee, Glenn Todhunter, has been helping project manage Helifirst
  • One of Australia’s best known female DAMEs, Dr Heather Parker, has carried out Sam’s medical
  • Heliwest has agreed to train Sam to fly at its flying school at Toowoomba Airport
  • Singer/songwriter from Clare in South Australia, Danny Hooper, has written a theme song for Helifirst called "You Don't Need Wings to Fly"
  • The first school Sam Bailey will fly into will be Croppa Creek Public School where he attended primary. The project will then be launched by Sam flying into Bondi Beach in Sydney in front of students from all the schools in the Waverly City Council area. Keep an eye on the website for dates....
  • ABC TV's Australian Story will be filming Sam's helicopter journey and it will be published as a book by ABC Books. Broadcast and publication dates will be announced when they are available.