Young pilot James proves he’s a real high-flier

Young pilot James Moon at the Northumbria Flying School.
Young pilot James Moon at the Northumbria Flying School.

A PONTLELAND teenager’s flying career continues to soar after he overcame yet another injury setback.

James Moon has now battled through four major ailments to pursue his dream job of flying commercial aircraft and he received a boost last Thursday when he achieved a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) at the first attempt.

His ambition was in serious danger when the 17-year-old broke his spine in a freak accident in December 2009 when playing in goal for a Ponteland United junior team.

He recovered and was briefly back flying last summer until a broken finger and a burst appendix put him back on the ground.

But these injuries only made him more determined to succeed and in September he completed his first solo flight.

James was hoping to get the PPL before the end of last year, however this was scuppered when the jinx struck again — in October he dislocated his wrist and once again it was when playing for Ponteland United as a goalkeeper.

“I couldn’t believe it when I suffered the wrist injury and the consultant who did the operation said he had only seen a dislocation like it once before,” he said.

“I enjoy playing football, but for the sake of my career I’ve decided to retire from the sport.

“As I knew I would be unable to fly for a few months, I wanted to do as much as I could in the meantime and just a few days after my operation I did a 90-minute theory navigation test, which I managed to pass despite not feeling 100 per cent because of the effects of the anaesthetic.

“I had intense physio to get the wrist back in working order and I was flying an aircraft again at the end of January.”

The Darras Hall resident had a few sessions at the Northumbria Flying School, where he has been training since early 2009, to get used to piloting again and reach the 45 hours in a single engine aircraft required to take the PPL test.

He was up in the skies for two-and-a-half hours — one hour spent examining his navigation skills, one dealing with general handling, with the other 30 minutes covering the departure and re-entry to the airport.

James said: “Once I got back in a plane it was like riding a bike, everything came back to me pretty quickly.

“I felt confident going into the PPL test, but I was nervous about the forced landing part because if you fail that, you fail the whole test, and I hadn’t done it for a while.

“I read up a lot about it and thankfully I managed to come through on the day and I also held it together for the other sections.

“I was delighted to pass and my instructors were equally as pleased as they have supported me through all my injuries.”

He now hopes to have an injury-free year so he can do the 14 exams required to achieve the Airline Transport Pilot Licence.

This would allow James to apply for a First Officer position with a commercial airline company.