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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday February 20, 2006

Blind balloonist

Balloon over Italy
Flying blind - Jamie Weller flies in the face of convention

Jamie Weller is a tax man, an accountant with Deloites in Nottingham.

He is also registered blind.

He has no central vision. Anything he can see is a blur on the edge of most people's sight.

But he wants to get a pilot's licence to fly a balloon.

Inside Out follows him as he tries to clock up the flying hours that he needs if he's going to have any chance of qualifying.

High hopes

Jamie lost his eyesight while he was serving in the Navy on aircraft carriers in the Gulf.

Jamie in balloon basket
Jamie Weller takes to the skies over Italy

Unknown to Jamie he suffered from a genetic condition which meant his retinas were prone to sun damage.

It meant he was registered blind and medically discharged.

With his balloon flying Jamie tracks the direction and height of the balloon by feeling the wind on his face.

The team Jamie flies with are all from St Dunstan's - a charity who for 90 years has been caring for blind ex-servicemen.

But can he convince the Civil Aviation Authority that he can safely fly a balloon?

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Lorry drivers

Lorries on motorway
Road runners - lorries pound their way down our motorways

There are two lorries for every mile of road in this country.

And in the congested East Midlands, car drivers get stuck behind a lot of them.

Many drivers probably don't feel too enamoured of lorries hogging the highways.

Of course everybody wants what's in the lorries, but nobody wants to be stuck behind them.

But what's it like for the lorry drivers?

Driving is a lonely job - and it can take its toll on family life.

The modern lorry driver

Modern lorries are well equipped - there's a bed and even a fridge.

But being a driver can be a 24/7 experience.

Nick Howarth in his cab
Top cab - Nick Howarth takes to the road

Lorry drivers lead a life that most of us wouldn't want.

The hours can be long and the travelling can be tiring and sometimes stressful.

The law is strict about the number of hours drivers work.

Lorry drivers may not drive for more than nine hours a day, 56 hours a week or 90 hours a fortnight.

They must have uninterrupted rest of at least 11 hours per day - or one period of nine hours and another of three hours - and must rest for at least 45 minutes every 4.5 hours.

After nine hours on the road, it's time to spend the night in the cab.

Inside Out follows one driver, Nick Howarth from Swanwick, for a long week travelling the country.

Lorry Facts

* Without lorries the 4th largest economy in the world would grind to a halt.

* Nearly half a million lorry drivers pass through the East Midlands every day.

* There are over 441,000 goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes in Britain (DFT, 2004).

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DNA Dads

Lab files of DNA
Birth father? DNA can unearth family secrets

What can happen when the wrong man’s name is put on a child’s birth certificate?

Inside Out meets the woman who got more than she bargained for when she set out in search of the man she thought was her father.

We also hear from the man who raised a child for more than 10 years only to discover the boy was not his own.

And it seems cases like this may not be rare – it is estimated that up to one in 25 men in Britain could be raising children who are not their own.

Presenter Jessica Whittaker finds out how developments in DNA technology mean it is becoming increasingly easy for people to unearth hidden family secrets.

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