Schoolgirl passes pilot’s licence before she can drive
This schoolgirl can fly to visit family in France – but isn’t allowed to drive to the shops yet.
Ariane Edge, 17, holds a private pilot’s licence having passed her course just one week ago.
It means she can take to the skies in any single-engine aircraft that weighs up to 2000kg and has up to six seats.
She has even flown her parents on trips to the Isle of Wight and France.
But the sixth form student is not able to climb behind the wheel to run them down to the supermarket – having even put learning to drive on hold to complete her pilot’s licence.
Ariane, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, could fly just after her 17thbirthday and aims to complete her driving test when she turns 18, but is far more excited about the freedom flying offers her.
She said: “I can’t drive yet. I’ve flown my parents on a day trip to the Isle of Wight but I can’t take them down the road in the car.
“I first became interested when I went to do work experience in May 2015. I got to go flying a couple of times when they offered and I really enjoyed it.
“It was the first time I had ever been in a plane and despite being a little nervous to begin with I fell in love with it.
“When I got my hands on the controls it was interesting. It felt great to be flying yourself.
“So far I’ve had seven driving lessons and it’s going well. I think the flying really helps as it gives you a feeling of special awareness, especially when you’re taxiing the plane on the ground around other aircraft.
“It would be nice to have my driving licence on my 18th birthday, but for now I’m just happy taking to the skies.”
The first time she ever went in a plane was when she was 15-years-old on work experience at Phoenix Aviation, the airfield that taught her to fly.
While completing administrative takes and cleaning airplanes, she was offered the chance to go up in the air and take the controls from an instructor.
Her test to gain her licence was also soon after the end of her GCSE exams, meaning Ariane had to balance learning to fly with intense revision.
The A-level student said: “I asked if I could work at Phoenix over the summer holidays and they allowed me to. Then in September they offered me a sponsorship. It was fantastic.
“The first lessons were just about flying straight and level and getting a feel for the controls, but it quickly became more complicated.
“I much prefer to be up in the air by myself. I love flying solo. It’s part of my daily life now so it does not feel as strange, but two years ago I would never have imagined myself doing it.
“I now take the time to go flying at least once a month, but before my test I was going once a week. I keep doing.
“It got really busy around exam time. I was studying for my GCSEs while learning to fly and it got very hectic. I had to slow down the flying a little bit so I could revise properly but it was a wonderful distraction from the exam stress.
“It’s a little different to what friends did to forget about the pressure but it was great. My parents were really supportive too.”
Ariane says she is proud of what she has achieved and is looking forward to being able to fly herself on holiday.
She is also considering turning her hobby into a career flying fighter jets for the RAF.
She said: “I feel quite proud to have got my licence and it still doesn’t feel real sometimes.
“The thought that I can fly to visit my family in France is pretty crazy, but I’m going to do it soon.
“I would love to join the RAF. Flying fighter jets would be amazing. I have also thought hard about becoming a commercial pilot. That would be a great career too.
“But right now I have my A-levels to focus on.”
Frank Thompson, of Phoenix Aviation, said: “It is something we never dreamed we would achieve. I spotted her when she was 15 and could see she was special. We could not be more proud.
“Ariane was doing work experience with us and I always try to take them up in a plane at least once. I let her have a go at the controls and could immediately see she was a natural.
“She asked if she could come back and continue working for us, and we agreed and then decided we should sponsor her through flight training.
“She was doing all the horrible jobs at the same time like administration and washing airplanes, but she can rightly be proud of all the hard work she put in and the amazing result.”
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