Sky’s the limit: Norfolk teenager, 14, becomes UK’s youngest pilot
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
A Norfolk teenager is flying high after becoming the UK’s youngest qualified pilot.
Jack Jenner-Hall, who lives in Burston, near Diss, achieved the feat at Tibenham Airfield on Wednesday (June 22) as he celebrated his 14th birthday.
Fourteen is the legal minimum age in the UK to fly solo in a glider and, as Jack reached the milestone, family and friends looked on with pride during his first solo glider flight.
The youngster, who attends Diss High School and has been flying since the age of 11, said the experience surpassed all expectations.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Jack. “The weather was perfect, the experience was great and it’s easily the best birthday present I’ve ever had.
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“I reached about 3,500ft over Long Stratton, and to be doing that on my own as incredible. I even had a couple of US Air Force tankers fly off my wing, which was very cool.
“There were some nerves beforehand, but the overwhelming emotion was excitement. I think as I get used to flying solo the nerves will decrease and I’ll just want to take things even further.”
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Jack has been on Norfolk Gliding Club’s books for more than two years having joined their junior training scheme at Tibenham, but explained that his passion for planes had begun at a much younger age.
“When I was two years old I saw my first Red Arrows display and my love for flying just grew from there,” added Jack.
“I only live a couple of miles from Tibenham and would see all the gliders fly over. One day I just thought ‘why not give that a go?’”
Phil Sillett, one of Jack’s instructor’s at the gliding club, said his talent for flying had been clear from day one.
“Jack has been capable of going solo for at least six months, but has obviously had to wait until he can legally do so,” said Mr Sillett.
“He’s keen as mustard, he’s always helping out at the gliding club, and now finally he’s able to go up there and enjoy himself.”
Having touched back down, Jack has already set his sights on taking the next steps towards his dream career.
“Next I want to progress onto flying powered aircrafts solo, and then eventually I would love to become a commercial airline pilot.”