At the end of November, Devon & Somerset Gliding Club (DSGC) marked a new record - its youngest solo pilot, Ellie Carter from Great Torrington was sent on her first solo flight on her 14th birthday, writes Jill Harmer.
Ellie started flying with the Club just over a year ago. This is the first time one of DSGC's Junior members has solo'd on their 14th birthday, since the minimum age for glider pilots was reduced from 16years. writes Jill Harmer.
Ellie has had a mad keen interest in inventions and aviation for many years, and at the age of 9years caught the interest of the United States Air Force when they were visiting RIAT Fairford. She has since been invited to visit their base in California to look round the U2 spy plane. She has also had the opportunity to fly many light aircraft including Piper Cub. Ellie hopes to make her career in aviation.
Junior Development Coordinator and Flying Instructor at DSGC, Pete Harmer said "Ellie is exactly the kind of person who starts their flying career in gliders, going solo, enjoying soaring and cross-country flying then focussing on wider aviation opportunities."
This latest success follows a string of personal achievements by other Junior DSGC members. Last year, Josh Funnell, Lizzie Westcott, Jess Summers and Mia Saunders all went solo on a summer course, and this year Charlie Stuckey also went solo aged 14 in the summer, and Ben Summers just before going to university.
Several DSGC Juniors went on a Club expedition to Long Mynd in Shropshire during the half term holiday in October, accompanied by their mentors, and all enjoyed flying at another gliding site for the first time.
DSGC's Junior pilots are not only going solo - that step is only the beginning of a gliding career. Another Junior member Pete Bennett, solo at 14years and went on to become the youngest Basic instructor in the country at 16years, Pete was recently awarded the DSGC Ken Andrews Trophy for the best flight in 2016 in a wooden glider.
DSGC actively encourages young people to take up the sport of gliding, offering special discounted rates for those under 21years, or under 25 years and still in full-time education.
Devon and Somerset Gliding Club is a British Gliding Association accredited Junior Gliding Centre.
For contact details and more information on flying with the Devon and Somerset Gliding Club, and about Junior Gliding please visit our website www.dsgc.co.uk.