Flying high: Shropshire schoolgirl Holly is a glider pilot at just 15 - with video and pictures
Holly Harris is two years off taking to the wheel of a car – but thinks nothing of piloting a glider.
She has achieved her first solo flight and can now take in Shropshire’s beautiful Long Mynd from the cockpit thousands of feet above.
The 15-year-old is the envy of her friends at Church Stretton School but says gliding is the ideal hobby for any teenager looking for an interesting challenge in their spare time.
Watch our interview with Holly:
She said: “I really love it. Flying is just an awesome experience.”
Holly spent hours in the cockpit under the tuition of staff at Midland Gliding Club before going solo.
And, after more than 50 flights and an intensive training session, she took her first solo flight last month.
Holly can now get winched in an aircraft into the air on her own and glide above the countryside before picking her field to land in.
She said: “I want to thank the gliding club for all their support. Flying is an awesome experience and I really recommend it to young people as a hobby.”
Holly’s mother, Sian Harris, from Edgton, said her 12-year-old son Ben has now followed his sister’s footsteps and started flying with an instructor.
Mrs Harris, a clinical quality manager in the NHS, said: “The Midland Gliding Club were looking for young people to join as they can glide from 12-years-old and depending on their competency they can take their solo flight from aged 14, so Holly joined.
“She already had a huge interest in flying and loved going in helicopters and things.
“The club is so inclusive but there seems to be very few young people up there.
“Now when Holly glides she’s completely on her own in the glider.
“As a parent I only went in one myself recently and there is a lot more involved to flying one than I first anticipated, it’s a really big deal to think of your child up 3,000ft in the air on her own.
“Interestingly Holly can fly an aircraft but is not old enough to drive a car.”
Mrs Harris explained how gliders get up in the air, and that the flights can depend on weather conditions. “The gliders are winched in the air by a long string attached to the glider then when they are horizontal the pilot releases the winch,” she added.
“Holly has had a two minute flight and a two hour flight, it all depends on the thermals.
“The pilots then choose which field to land in, apologize to the farmer and call the gliding club to get picked up. My son is 12 and he has just started flying, he wants to fly solo when he is 14 to beat Holly’s age.
“Holly certainly wants to carry on flying but wants to go into engineering.”
For more information about Midland Gliding Club visit midlandgliding.club