A group of young flying enthusiasts have taken their first steps to becoming pilots with the help of Royal Air Forces Association Flying Scholarships.
The Association, which this year celebrated its 100th Flying Scholar, rewards candidates for their community fundraising and welfare work. Five people were awarded 12-hour flying courses, and one outstanding applicant received 35 hours of lessons. All the candidates undertook their courses at South Warwickshire Flying School.
One of the recipients, Jack Oliphant (19) from Seafield, West Lothian, who is an RAF Air Cadet at 1271 Squadron (Bathgate), said:
“It’s my life ambition to fly for the RAF, and I’ve now taken a step in the right direction. After only nine-and-a-half hours out of my 12, I was allowed to take the controls of a Cessna 152, and the experience was truly out of this world!”
Another of the scholars, RAF Air Cadet James Gordon (18) from Solihull, West Midlands, had the unusual honour of flying an aircraft before he had driven a car.
James, who is a Cadet at 492 Squadron (Solihull), said: “It was the best experience of my life so far. I know for sure that without this scholarship, I would have been unable to fly solo before driving a car, something that amazes me.”
The winner of the 35-hour course, and the 100th scholar since the scheme began, was Akinme Akingbade, an Air Cadet at 370 Squadron (North Sheffield). He said:
“When I heard I had won the scholarship, my mum was screaming down the phone at me – she was so happy! Having now had practical flying experience, I hope to fly for a career or as a hobby in the future. Maybe I’ll join the RAF!”