Oxford

Boy, 14, 'youngest person' in UK to fly glider solo

  • 4 January 2013
  • From the section Oxford
Media captionAccording to the British Gliding Association, Callum is the youngest person to fly a glider solo in the UK.

A 14-year-old said to be the youngest person in the UK to fly a glider solo has spoken about his achievement.

Callum Lavender, from Chinnor, Oxfordshire, made the flight last month at Bicester Flying Club, two days after his birthday.

He said: "It was phenomenal. You can't beat the feeling of being in an aircraft by yourself. So much fun."

The minimum age of solo glider pilots in the UK was lowered from 16 to 14 in October, the same as Europe.

According to the British Gliding Association, Callum is the youngest person to fly a glider solo in the UK.

He added: "When I heard the age was being changed I just had to jump in and have a go."

The training took 14 weeks and included rigorous safety planning.

He said: "You have to know what to do when stuff goes wrong. They test you to see if you can use your initiative.

"Before the flight I was scared but as soon as I got up there it all clicked into a routine flight.

"I actually didn't think about being on my own too much."

'Absolutely terrifying'

Callum had originally planned to make his first solo flight on his birthday, but weather conditions delayed take-off.

Alan Smith, deputy chief flying instructor at Bicester Flying Centre, said he took to gliding "like a duck to water".

"Teaching young people is always a joy and in Callum's case he absorbed all the knowledge like a sponge," he added.

Judith Lavender, Callum's mother, admitted to being nervous about his first flight.

She added: "I was absolutely terrified. For three months I watched him go up in a glider, but he always had an experienced and competent instructor in the back seat.

"To watch him go up on his own was quite surreal and quite terrifying because there he was in the front seat and there was nobody in the back."

Callum intends to join the RAF but for the moment is enjoying positive feedback at Lord Williams School in Thame for his record-breaking flight.

"My friends are pretty impressed," he said.

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