Teenager becomes club’s youngest ever solo pilot after completing training programme

Solo pilot Jake Emms with his grandfather.

Solo pilot Jake Emms with his grandfather. - Credit: Archant

A teenager from St Ives has set a new record by becoming the youngster member of the Nene Valley Gliding Club to attain solo status.

Fourteen-year-old Jake Emms decided to start flying as part of his Duke of Edinburgh’s bronze award scheme, which required him to learn and develop a new skill, whilst he was also studying at St Ivo School.

He joined Nene Valley Gliding Club in November 2016, achieving his solo status whilst flying one of the club’s two-seat training gliders, the Twin Astir, in August. David Coker, a committee member at the club, said: “Jake’s achievement is impressive when considering his actually airborne time was only just over nine hours, with 54 winch launches. He already has his eyes set on progressing towards the higher status of the bronze award.”

Mr Coker said Jake is the club’s first young pilot to achieve solo status aged 14.

He added: “It is not a simple matter of turning up and having lessons until you can launch and land safely, which of course is a major factor to consider.”


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“Trainees must follow a strict training programme set by the British Gliding Association and taught by accredited instructors, as well as maintaining a mandatory UK flying log.

“It is common for trainees to have had 50 or more winch launches before they satisfy a club’s instructor team that they are competent to fly solo. They are continually assessed not only in their competences and consistency to complete training to the required level, but must demonstrate the ability to safely carry out the required flight manoeuvres and deal with emergencies and hazards before going solo for the first time.”

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