Chris Wood, the founder of Flying Disabled, has received an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) on the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for services to aviation accessibility.
One of Wood’s aims is for users of power wheelchairs to be able to stay seated in their own chair throughout a journey, including in the aircraft cabin. Many users of power wheelchairs find flying an undignified and unpleasant experience, partly due to them having to be transferred into different seating for flight – an experience which deters many from flying. Wood works with regulators and governments to gain support for flying to become a more pleasant, dignified, comfortable and enjoyable experience for disabled travellers, and pushes for accessibility legislation to become harmonised around the world.
The work has a personal aspect for Chris Wood, as he has two young adult children who are full-time wheelchair users. Both children have a passion for travel, with his son loving F1 races and his daughter ski resorts. Their negative experiences when flying has informed and driven Wood’s passion for accessibility.
“To say I’m shocked and humbled is an understatement,” said Wood of receiving the MBE. “Thanks to everyone for your support. Much work still needs to be done, but I am getting there.”