Bungay Sixth Form pupil is flying high after achieving pilot’s licence at just 17
- Credit: Ben Rourke
At the age of 17 many teenagers will get their first opportunity to get behind the wheel and earn their driving licence.
However, for one Walberswick teenager - Ben Rourke - it is not the road he is taking to - it's the skies.
The Bungay Sixth Form pupil is now a fully-licensed pilot, having passed his test with flying colours.
Like many youngsters before him, Ben had childhood dreams of becoming a pilot, growing up fascinated with planes and aviation. However, for him, these dreams are now a reality.
The teenager, of Church Lane, said: 'I've wanted to be a pilot for the best part of 10 years. It used to be all about trains and lorries for me, but that then became planes and it just stuck.
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'It's a very unique feeling being in control of a plane and being in the air. I really enjoy it.'
Ben funded his own lessons by working as a glass collector in a pub during school holidays and at the weekends, before managing to secure a scholarship with the Honourable Company of Air Pilots at the second time of asking.
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The scholarship saw him receive 45 hours of flying lessons, which he had to travel to London to interview for.
He said: 'The most difficult part of learning to fly was getting used to monitoring everything at once - the height, the speed and navigating.
'However, in a way it's easier than learning to drive a car because every control is duplicated, while in a car there are certain things the instructor doesn't have control of.'
On top of his physical lessons, which he carried out at Beccles and Crowfield Airfields, he supplemented his learning with thousands of hours on simulators at home, as he prepared for his test.
On Monday, October 9, he passed his test behind the controls of a Robin HR-200 aircraft.
He is now planning to apply for an apprenticeship scheme run by Airbus in hopes of becoming a commercial pilot.
Marie Rourke, his mother, said: 'Ben's enthusiasm for life, as well as his determination to succeed was what secured him one of those valuable scholarships, and his family could not be more proud.'