Easy glider: Benjie, 14, is a pilot


A Leeds teenager has become one of the world's youngest qualified pilots after flying solo for the first time at his North Yorkshire gliding club.

Benjie Ambler took to the skies to celebrate his 14th birthday, executing a solo landing in an ASK 21 glider at Burn Gliding Club. Student pilots are also required to pass the national aviation law exam, set by the Civil Aviation Authority. He scored 100 per cent.

During his solo flight, Benjie constantly talked to himself, feeling it would ensure he did not miss any of the in-flight checks.

"While I love going with my dad to see the Red Arrows, I dream that one day it will be me performing in front of the crowds."

His father, Allister, added: "The British Gliding Association, the governing body of the sport, stipulates glider pilots have to be 14 years of age and upwards to go solo. They can fly a glider three years before they can legally drive a car."

Aviation runs in the family. Benjie's paternal grandfather was in the Royal Air Force, as was an uncle who recently retired after 30 years' service.

The Grammar School at Leeds pupil has been on more than 100 flights in gliders. At home, he spends hours on his computer flight simulator. His ambition is to be a jet pilot with the RAF Quick Reaction Force, based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, flying the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

First, he wants to study aeronautical engineering at university. Benjie is also something of an entrepreneur, spending some of his barmitzvah money buying into a syndicate to purchase a glider.

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