The Paralympics opening ceremony will be "both spectacular and deeply human," according to the London 2012 organisers.
Disabled ex-serviceman David Rawlins flew a twin-engined Tecnam P2006 light aircraft over the 62,000-strong crowd to kick off the proceedings. It signalled the historic moment when the Paralympics came home.
Stoke Mandeville, where the four national flames which light the London 2012 Paralympic cauldron were united on Tuesday, is the spiritual home of the Games.
It is where Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a neurosurgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in Buckinghamshire, revolutionised the treatment of spinal injury patients and organised the first Games to coincide with the start of London's 1948 Olympics.
The International Stoke Mandeville Games were the forerunners of today's Paralympics.
The crowd looked upwards as a blast of pyrotechnics and LED lights marked the flypast by Aerobility, a charity that trains disabled people to become pilots.
London 2012 is set to be the most watched Paralympics ever, with the 2.5 million tickets to the competitions expected to be sold out and millions more people watching worldwide.
Empowerment and new perceptions of disability were the strong themes of the Games and the opening ceremony.
During the show, the watching world was taken on a journey of discovery through science with physicist Professor Stephen Hawking as guide.