Two teenagers have taken the controls of an aeroplane and soared high above roads and motorways long before they have driven cars on them.
Grangemouth 1333 Squadron air cadets Mark Hutton and Shahan Gohar have both logged 12 hours’ flight time in the squadron’s own Piper Warrior III training aircraft and are the first pair ready to fly solo after completing the Grangemouth Young Flyers Scholarship (GRYFS).
Not bad going for two youngsters who have not even started driving lessons yet!
Civilian instructor Sean Taylor said it’s actually quite common for cadets to have flown a glider solo before they have got behind the wheel of a car, but the pair aim to take it a stage further.
The 17-year-old said: “The first lessons were quite easy until it came to landings, but the more you do something the better you get at it.”
The St Mungo’s High School pupil has already flown solo in a glider and is looking forward to the opportunity to do the same in a powered aircraft.
Grangemouth High pupil Shahan (16) wants to become an RAF aeronautical engineer and his early introduction to the world of flight can only help propel him towards that dream.
He said: “I’m really proud of what I’ve done. If not for the cadets I wouldn’t have this chance.”
Run in conjunction with Tayside Aviation at Dundee Airport and the Robertson Trust in Glasgow, the Grangemouth air cadets scholarship is the only one of its kind in the UK and the squadron hopes to expand it.
Flight Lieutenant Tom McMorrow, squadron commander, said: “All of our cadets get to fly in a four-seater Piper Warrior trainer aircraft with the possibility of getting a flying scholarship from us.
“Bad weather meant Mark and Shahan couldn’t do their solo flights, but they both passed the flying competence exam with flying colours and now know how to pilot an aeroplane.”
The other cadets in the squadron are always asking Mark and Shahan about their skybound activities and always start off the conversation the same way.
“The always ask us if we crashed,” laughed Mark.