A PARAPLEGIC pilot is due to set off on his latest challenge in an effort to reach the North Pole.

Dave Sykes lost the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident 23 years ago, but as a member of York Flying Club, he has been piloting a specially-adapted microlight for several years.

Five years ago, Dave completed a solo trip to Australia in the microlight which attaches to his wheelchair, and this is the second time he has tried to reach the North Pole.

His attempt last year had to be called off following a series of problems from the outset, including bad weather, bureaucratic issues, and a landing which left him with a broken hand and hampered his flying capabilities and halted his journey at Kellenhusen in Germany.

Dave said: "It took a lot to actually say 'enough's enough now, I'm not going to go and kill myself, I'm going to call the flight off'. It's a big decision to make with all the money involved but it was the right choice because I can have another go at it now - the North Pole is still there.

"The Russian ice station are flying my fuel there for me. That's all ordered and paid for when I fly from Svalbard to the ice station which is apparently closed to the public this year."

Dave, now 48, had been due to set off from Rufforth yesterday, but bad weather in the south-east of England and Holland delayed his launch until today.

He said: "I have to be at the top end of Norway for the beginning of April when the ice station opens for three weeks.

"The plan is still the same, but I've been looking at the route and instead of going to the south of England and heading back up by Belgium to the top end of Holland, I'm going to Norfolk and across from Cromer, cutting out a full day of flying."

To track Dave's progress, go to polarflight.co.uk