Fourteen-year-old pilot makes history as youngest to fly solo

Connor McIver gets his wings from instructor Robin Johnson
Connor McIver gets his wings from instructor Robin Johnson

A FOURTEEN year-old boy has made aviation history as the youngest pilot from Scotland to fly solo.

Connor McIver made the record-breaking flight from Borders Gliding Club at Milfield earlier this month.

Instructor Robin Johnson put the junior pilot from New Abbey, near Dalbeattie, through his paces including a simulated emergency – a cable-break on aero-tow at 300ft.

Having satisfied himself as to his student’s ability, Robin climbed out of the glider and closed the canopy - sending Connor on his way as the youngest pilot ever to fly solo at Borders Gliding Club - or anywhere in Northumberland, the Borders or even Scotland.

Piloting the club’s K21 two-seat training glider, Connor performed a perfect take-off and aero-tow behind the tug plane and soared for just under 12 minutes before carrying out a well-judged circuit and landing. Club members broke into spontaneous applause as his glider rolled to a gentle stop on the grass.

Until this week, the British Gliding Association’s ‘Laws and Rules’ did not allow young people to fly solo in a glider below the age of 16, and even then, they could only solo if they satisfied their instructor that they were fully competent in all aspects of the BGA flight syllabus. However, new European rules now allow youngsters to go solo on gliders at 14 years of age providing they have reached the appropriate level of skill, judgement and maturity.

A senior member of Borders Gliding Club said: “Connor’s solo gave those of us who witnessed it a great sense of pleasure. It proves that the decision to reduce the solo age is the right one, as long as it is for the right people.”