teenager Chris Bowden celebrated his 16th birthday recently by ﬂying a glider by himself at the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club near Tideswell.
After his ﬁrst ﬂight, lasting four minutes, in one of the club’s Puchacz two-seater trainers, he went on to ﬂy solo twice more, once for a short ten-minute soaring ﬂight and another four-minute circuit.
A delighted Chris Bowden explained: “It’s fantastic to be ﬁnally able to ﬂy solo.
“I’ve been ready for this for weeks.”
Chris, who is awaiting the results on a clutch of GCSEs, hopes to go on to study maths, physics and computing at A level while progressing his ﬂying so that he can learn aerobatics.
After ﬂying radio control models as a hobby, it was a natural next step for Chris to move on to the real thing. He took his ﬁrst ﬂight in March 2009 and has been at solo standard for some time now but had to wait for his 16th birthday before being legally allowed to ﬂy alone.
Ironically, he has to wait another year before he can drive to the club but as a solo pilot he will now be trained on operating the five-litre V8 winch used to launch the gliders into the air.
Peter Gray, Chris’s principal training mentor and the Chief Flying Instructor for the club said: “I’m very pleased with the effort and commitment that Chris has put in to his ﬂying training - his ﬁrst solo ﬂights were textbook stuff”.
Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club, set up in 1935, has 120 ﬂying members. Interested parties are invited to call the club on 01298 871207 or go online at www.dlgc.org.uk.