Eight brave young women from Hackney have this summer found the ultimate boredom-buster for the long school holiday – learning to fly an aeroplane.
For most, being in control of a cockpit is just a pipe dream, but thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime scholarship offered by Boeing and the Air League, pupils from Skinner’s Academy have made it a reality.
Sana Patel, 19, told the Hackney Citizen her first flight in the lightweight glider was nerve-wracking but exciting.
“Every second took my breath away, but the most challenging part was landing,” she said.
Roma Gajre, another budding pilot from Skinner’s, now wants to work in aviation when she is older.
“I’ve always loved planes, but I didn’t think that sort of opportunity would come up at my school,” said Miss Gajre.
“I jumped at the chance to apply to learn how to fly a glider,” she said. “I cannot believe that, less than two weeks after setting foot in one, I am almost ready to fly solo.”
After passing a rigorous application process, the chosen students undertook an intensive two-week gliding course in Dunstable where they were trained by expert pilots and mentored by Air League professionals.
The scholarship scheme was created in order to reach out to young people from inner London who would not otherwise have access to such opportunities.
Interestingly, though the flying scholarship was open to all students between 16 and 18 at the mixed Skinner’s Academy, the chosen eight were all female.
Head of Skinner’s Academy Jenny Wilkins said she was grateful to Boeing and Air League for giving her students the chance to take off.
“They have learned so many valuable life skills such as communication, self-reliance, responsibility and teamwork that will stand them in good stead for their future careers,” she said.
Sir Roger Bone, president of Boeing UK, said: “Boeing is committed to inspiring young people to continue with their education. The scholarships are the perfect way to harness the enthusiasm young people have for aviation as the UK searches for the next generation of aerospace innovators.”