When it comes to his future career, Jed Fisher is reaching for the skies.
The Morpeth teenager is one of the youngest pilots in the UK as he flew a light aircraft on his own a few days after turning 16 – the age when young people are deemed to be able to fly solo.
He has been learning how to fly a flex-wing aircraft with Purple Aviation, based at Eshott Airfield, since the age of 14. This type has a wing reminiscent of a hang-glider with a trike unit containing the engine, seats and landing gear suspended below.
The Lancaster Park resident will continue to build up his experience over the next 12 months and when he is 17, he can take tests for a private pilot’s licence.
He received a boost in the summer when he was one of the successful applicants for a £1,200 bursary from the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA).
Jed said: “I have been interested in flying since the age of five and so I was thrilled when my parents agreed to take me to Purple Aviation when I was 14.
“Over the last two years, I’ve worked on the basics of operating the controls and landing techniques. I’m grateful to my flying instructor, Simon Jarvis, for his support and expertise.
“Although I was a bit apprehensive just before my first solo flight, I was ok when I was in the air and my mind was completely focused on what I had to do.
“I like the responsibilty of flying and I really enjoy it. You also get to enjoy some great views when you’re up in the sky.
“After sending off an initial application for the BMAA scheme, I and 14 others were chosen for a selection day at Sywell in Northamptonshire. We did a flying test and spot the error test, had a one-to-one interview and delivered a presentation on a subject of our choice.
“I was overwhelmed when I read the e-mail saying that I had received a bursary.
“The money will be a big help as I work towards the private pilot’s licence and if I’m successful, I can move on to Eurostar and Cessna fixed-wing aircraft. My long-term aim is to become a commercial pilot.”
The King Edward VI School Year 11 student was joined by his dad Stan in a microlight when they were part of the 26 aircraft from Eshott and other airfields in Northumberland that did a fly-past over RAF Boulmer to pay tribute to the base’s Search and Rescue (SAR) operation.
The two Sea King helicopters that were stationed at the base have now left as SAR has switched to a civilian service.
Stan got his pilot’s licence with the RAF when he was 17, but civil aviation was in massive decline at that time and he decided to pursue a career in a different field.
He said: “No form of private flying is cheap, but it is not as expensive as it used to be and the BMAA bursary scheme can also help families.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to take Jed to Purple Aviation – a place that is happy to take people on from a young age and has very skilled and enthusiastic instructors. I kept an interest in microlighting and with Jed regularly going to Eshott Airfield, I did a refresher course last year.
“This is a good time to become a pilot because the airlines put a freeze on training during the recession, but now there are many senior captains that will be retiring over the next few years and this will create a shortfall.”
He added that he and Jed’s mum, Mel, are very proud of their son and they hope he will inspire other teenagers in the area to take up flying.
Senior flying instructor at Purple Aviation, Storm Smith, said: “Jed is a great young man and he has a real natural ability for flying, which helps him to pick things up quickly.”
For more information about the flying school, visit www.purpleaviation.co.uk