Sky's the limit for newest pilots

By James Fuller

More than 50 years separates them in age but two Tauranga Gliding Club members have been united by the exhilaration of their first solo flights.

At 18, Emma Brooks became the club's youngest member to fly solo when she soared into the Tauranga skies yesterday.

"It went really well and I'm just full of adrenalin right now," said Miss Brooks, who is a member of the Air Training Corps. "It's definitely a sense of achievement."

The Waikato Institute of Technology nursing student undertook 14 flying hours with an instructor before taking the controls alone.

"There's no set amount of hours. You have to tick everything off on the 'A' Syllabus [training syllabus] first. When that is all ticked off your instructor will make the decision on whether you're ready to fly solo or not."

The former Fraser High School student, who comes from Hamilton, took her first gliding flight as a 14-year-old in 2008. She said she had not been nervous about flying alone.

"I was more excited than nervous but I have heard of other people being quite scared before they go up alone."

The teenager said she was looking forward to continuing her gliding career.

"When you're up in the air you're seeing the world from a different perspective."

At the other end of the scale, 74-year-old Brian Crook is Tauranga Flying Club's second oldest member. The former pilot said he was the oldest one to have gone solo in recent times.

Mr Crook, who is originally from Auckland but retired to Mt Maunganui, took 12 months to train as a glider pilot. He said he had had an interest in aviation since his days flying in the Pacific Islands.

"I find it a very enjoyable pastime and hobby and it's not as expensive as powered planes. It was a cheaper way of getting back into the air," he said.

"You can have trial flights or packages of four lessons to give you an idea of whether it's something you would like to pursue."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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