Air cadet to become UK's youngest pilot

29 August 2008

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Sally at the controls of the aircraft in which she passed her Gerneral Flying Test.As her 17th birthday approaches, Air Cadet Sally Cluley is preparing to become Britain's youngest qualified pilot after passing her General Flying Test and qualifying for her Private Pilots Licence (PPL) at the POM flying school in Humberside yesterday, Thursday 28 August 2008.

Sally, still a month short of her 17th birthday, will have to wait until her birthday, 28 September 2008, before she can officially claim the title and she hopes to receive her licence on her big day.

A member of 1947 Squadron, based at Birstall in Leicester, for two years, Sally passed her General Flying Test in a Piper Cherokee aircraft. The Air Training Corps is a military-based youth organisation parented by the Royal Air Force, providing a variety of opportunities for young people aged 13 to 20. Activities include flying, gliding, target shooting, leadership, adventure training, aviation studies and general military training. The Squadron also participates in many weekend camps on both RAF stations and at military training facilities.

On passing her test, Sally admitted to feeling "Very good, excited about it as well!"

As she is still in her teens, Sally has to consider her education options before deciding on how to progress with her future. She said:

"I'm staying on for A-levels next year and hopefully I'll be a commercial pilot by the end, so whatever I can do to get there. That's my aim… either that or the RAF. I've not really made my mind up yet."

Sally proudly displays her training flight logbook.Part of the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO), which also includes RAF elements of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), the Air Training Corps (ATC) is a voluntary youth organisation supported by the Royal Air Force.

With almost 41,000 members across over 1,000 squadrons, the ATC is one of the country's premier youth organisations and the world's largest youth air training organisation. The Cadets are supported by a volunteer staff of nearly 10,000 plus 5,000 Civilian Committee Members.

Chief Flying Instructor of POM Flying Group, Dave Gibson, said:

"Sally ranks among the best young pilots that I have seen - because she is so young she takes it all in her stride and seems much less prone to picking up the bad habits that those with more experience often develop. Some people struggle with co-ordination, but not Sally. You can show her something and she absorbs it very quickly."

Tim Darby, Flight Examiner added:

"Sally was extremely confident in her ability. She handles the plane very well and produced an extremely competent test during her final two hour flight."

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is the ATC's Commodore-in-Chief, taking a keen interest in the organisation and its members. Air Cadets get the opportunity of flying in RAF and commercial aircraft - many progressing to achieve Flying Scholarships and their Private Pilots Licence (PPL).

The Corps, which has charitable status, is not a recruiting organisation but many members do go on to have careers in the Royal Air Force, other Services or civilian life. Currently, approximately 34% of all aircrew (pilots, navigators and NCO aircrew) and 20% of officers are ex-Cadets.

Photographs: John Forman - Ambleside Photographic.

Image 1: (Larger size) Sally at the controls of the aircraft in which she passed her Gerneral Flying Test.

Image 2: (Larger size) Sally proudly displays her training flight logbook.

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