Charitys inaugural flying scholar takes to the skies for first solo flight

A teenager, who became fly2help’s inaugural flying scholar, has taken to the skies for his first solo flight, thanks to the support of the programme.The scholarship, which is supported by the Royal Aeronautical Society, aims to provide a young person with the chance to achieve the first milestone in any pilot’s career – the chance to get airborne by themselves.

Following a selection process, which involved a formal application and an interview, Sam Jacques, 18, was chosen to be fly2help’s first ever scholar.

And earlier this month, the excited teenager, who was awarded 15 hours of lessons as part of the programme, enjoyed his first solo flight in a Cessna 152 at Cotswold Airport.

Sam, from Cirencester, says the experience was a “dream come true” after setting his heart on becoming a pilot as a youngster.

He said: “The scholarship has been fantastic. I love flying – you get a real sense of freedom. It’s also great to be part of an elite few who have been able to fly an aircraft by themselves.

“It was the most amazing experience of my life. It was gusting at around 25 knots at times and I had to compensate for that but it went really well.

“I’m in the application process for joining the Fleet Air Arm at the moment and I’m sure this will help. It’s such an asset to have it on my CV.

“I’d never have been able to afford the cost of the lessons but this has helped me so much.”

Thanks to the support of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the scholarship is run at zero cost to the charity and in parallel to the charity’s core aim, which is running Air Smiles events to give beneficiaries, including people with life-limiting and chronic illnesses, the chance to experience the liberation and freedom of flight.

Sam received expert tuition from Flying Club Kemble instructor Bob Hopper and learned the basics of flying, such as take-off and landing, as well as more complex manoeuvres, including engine failure practices and ascending turns.

He says a previous place on Cotswold Airport’s own Aviation Scholarships programme two years ago encouraged him to apply for the fly2help scheme.

He is now looking for further sponsorship to enable him to complete his solo hours and achieve his Private Pilot Licence.

Chris Hadlow, Chief Executive of fly2help, said: “We’re extremely proud of Sam and are delighted that the scholarship has helped him achieve his first solo flight.

“As a pilot myself, I remember what a thrill it was to have total control of an aircraft for the first time and Sam did exceptionally well in some challenging conditions.

“I hope he will now go on to have a very successful career in aviation and the charity will very much look forward to inviting applications for our next scholarship early next year, as part of our continuing programme of encouraging young people to take up careers in the aviation industry.”

Details of how to apply for the scholarship will appear on the fly2help website

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