North Norfolk youth makes first solo glider flight

He is not even old enough yet to get behind the wheel of a car – but a 16-year-old north Norfolk air cadet has already taken to the skies flying solo in a glider plane.

On Saturday, October 2, just 11 days after his 16th birthday, Aylsham High School pupil Joe Honour, took to the air with Fenland Gliding Club at RAF Marham.

Although he started gliding just over a year ago at Marham, Joe, from Swanton Abbott, near North Walsham, has had to wait for his birthday to be able to fly on his own.

The minimum age someone can be a glider pilot is 16, making Joe one of the youngest pilots in the country at the moment.

His final tests were how to deal with any emergencies, which he carried out on the Saturday morning before enjoying four flights on his own in the club's K21 glass fibre aircraft.

Although the aircraft is capable of nearly 200mph, Joe settled for four calm circuits under the watchful eye of his instructor, FS Paul McLean and his father, Dave Honour, 51, who is a warrant officer at RAF Marham and also a club member.

He went up 1,500 ft in the air and was doing an average speed of around 70mph for each of the five-10 minute flights.

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Joe, who is currently studying for his GCSEs and a Duke of Edinburgh Award, said: 'It was quite scary. You do not notice when you are taking off because there is a lot of noise, but then when you are up in the air, the silence hits you and you can hear the whistle of the wind and you realise you are on your own.'

Joe, a member of North Walsham Air Cadets 2110 Squadron, says his hope eventually is to be able to instruct other cadets in flying.

In the meantime he is looking to get his private pilot's licence which will enable him to fly powered aircraft with the cadets, and he is also looking to go for his bronze gliding award.

His long term ambition is to join the forces after completing college.

A passion for planes runs in the family as when Joe began taking lessons, Mr Honour, who last flew a glider plane more than 30 years ago, decided to learn again himself from scratch, and he is currently working towards his sliver gliding award.

And younger brother, Chris, 11, who also attends the flying club, is also keen to follow in both their footsteps and fly solo as soon as he is able.

Keith Auchterlonie, communications Officer with the British Gliding Association, said: 'The minimum age for a solo flight is 16-years-old and we have had a few people do that over the years, but it is still quite an achievement which Joe has made.'