Teenage flyer youngest glider pilot in country

editorial image

A teenager from Chinnor has become the youngest person in the country to fly a glider solo.

The law was changed in October, bringing the UK into line with Europe, so that youngsters can now fly solo at 14 instead of waiting until they are 16.

The change prompted Callum Lavender to take weekly lessons so that he would be ready to fly solo as soon as he turned 14.

And at the weekend he achieved his ambition.

Proud dad Mark Lavender said: “He flew solo for the first time two days after his 14th birthday. As far as anyone can tell, he is the youngest person in this country to have done so. Every solo flight has to be registered with the British Gliding Association and they have congratulated him.”

Callum, who attends Lord Williams School in Thame, first went up in a glider with his dad when he was just seven-years-old. After deciding to learn how to fly himself, his dad taught him as much as he could and Callum also received formal instruction from Bob King, the chairman of Bicester Flying Club.

Mr Lavender, a service controller with London Underground, said: “He had weekly lessons, as long as the weather was right.”

Mr Lavender admits that he and his wife Judy were nervous during Callum’s first solo flight. “I didn’t think I’d feel as bad as I did. He’s so young, I was very anxious. The winch took him to about 1300 feet and he flew a circuit over Bicester and the side of the airfield before landing.

“He had a big grin on his face, he said it was all fine, the look on his face said it all.

“I’m so proud of him, he did so well.”

Tradition at the club determines that any pilot who does anything particularly good, or bad, has to ring the bell in the bar and buy beer for everyone.

Mr Lavender said: “Callum rang the bell and I bought the beer!”