MORE than a dozen microlight pilots have staged a flypast over a hospice in Wroughton in tribute to the founder of the nearby Wiltshire Microlight Centre.

In a touching display of camaraderie and solidarity, 13 aircraft and their pilots gathered at the Wiltshire Microlight Centre at Yatesbury early on Tuesday morning (October 3).

Their mission was to honour the memory of the Centre’s founder, Tony Hughes, who was a stalwart of the local aviation community.

Wiltshire Times: Tony Hughes watches Tuesday's flypast with staff at the Prospect Hospice in Wroughton. Tony Hughes watches Tuesday's flypast with staff at the Prospect Hospice in Wroughton. (Image: Alex Porter)

Mr Hughes, 68, from Calne, was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and has campaigned to raise awareness of the disease.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep at 2.30am on Thursday (October 5) at the Prospect Hospice in Wroughton, just a stone's throw from the airfield.

The orchestrator of Tuesday's aerial tribute was Julian Midder, Chief Flying Instructor at White Horse Aviation at Yatesbury near Calne.

Spokesperson Alex Porter said: “Tony's impact on the world of aviation and the people who call it home has been profound, and his legacy will forever be etched in the skies.

“By organising this fly-past, Julian aimed to extend the aviation community's collective appreciation for Tony. Beyond his roles as an instructor and inspector, Tony had been a mentor and an inspiration to many.

“As noon approached, the aircraft assembled in formation above Barbury Castle, creating a poignant and memorable sight.

“They then made a reverent pass over the hospice where Tony had spent his final days, accompanied by hospice staff who looked up, perhaps reflecting on his soaring adventures.

“After their graceful tribute, the aircraft returned to their respective bases, having paid their respects in a most fitting manner.

“Today's tribute served as a poignant reminder of a man who, through his passion and dedication, inspired countless individuals to look to the skies with wonder and ambition.

“Tony Hughes may have left the earthly realm, but his spirit will forever soar among the clouds, a source of inspiration for generations of aviators to come.”

Mr Hughes’ journey into aviation began in his younger years when, in 1972, he earned a flying scholarship and completed it at the Doncaster Aero Club.

His potential did not go unnoticed, and in 1973, he was granted a university cadetship by the London University Air Squadron.

Over the years, Tony earned accolades on the international stage. In the 1980s, he secured titles at both the European and World open hang-gliding championships.

By 1981, his expertise had earned him a spot on the British national hang-gliding team, leading to representations in distant lands such as Japan for the World Hang Gliding Championships and later in 1983, in Germany.

In 1984, Tony ventured into microlight flying, becoming a pivotal figure in the development of the XL series flexwing as a series test pilot.

His unwavering commitment to the industry was duly recognised in 1993 when he was honoured with senior inspector status by the British Microlight Aircraft Association’s chief inspector.

One of the crowning moments of Mr Hughes’ career came in 2014 at the Worthing International Birdman event, where he achieved a remarkable flight of 116.3 metres, becoming the first individual to surpass the 100-metre mark.