Not every 14-year-old can get a day off school for their birthday, but for Joel Hallewell it was a very special occasion because he flew his first solo glider flight at Wolds Gliding Club.
Joel, from Wilberfoss, has been under instruction at the club since February and became the club’s youngest ever solo pilot last Friday (12 June).
After a final check flight with chief flying instructor John Norman, Joel was launched into a clear blue sky, watched by proud parents Neil and Andrea and several other members of his family, some of whom had come from as far away as Basingstoke.
They saw two flawless circuits and landings and were so impressed that parents and grandparents had flights themselves to celebrate.
After his second solo Joel said: “I’ve been interested in flying since I was five years old and always wanted to be a pilot. I’m in the Air Cadets and I have been in some light aircraft at Full Sutton but I’m too young to be instructed on them.
“When I found out I could fly a glider solo from fourteen I just had to do it”.
Father Neil said: “I’ve always been interested in aircraft since we lived near Heathrow when I was younger. Although no one in the family has ever been a pilot I think this is where Joel’s interest came from.”
Afterwards John Norman said: “Joel is the first pilot at the club to fly solo on his fourteenth birthday. It is a wonderful achievement and a tribute to his dedication and skill.
“It reflects well on the efforts of club instructors and members but also, especially, on his school, Woldgate College in Pocklington, which has given him its full support.
“It is unlikely that the solo age will be lowered so Joel’s record will stand for a very long time.
“With scholarships and bursaries available gliding is a very affordable way for young people to learn to fly”. Joel received a scholarship from the Caroline Trust which was matched by the club’s Heptonstall Fund.
If you want to try gliding for yourself the club is holding a taster day on Saturday 4 July when visitors can just come along from dawn to dusk on the day and take a flight with a club instructor for £25.
l Visit www.wolds-gliding.com for more information