Britain’s youngest pilot collects licence

Hot air balloon pilot Alex Court from Preston in Lancashire collected his Private Pilot Licence on his 17th birthday - the earliest date he could legally obtain it.

Alex, who passed his solo flight test on 1 June 2014, has already accumulated 36 hours flying time in sixteen different balloons - having conducted his first training flight at the age of ten. His father, David Court, is himself a balloon instructor and head of training at the British Balloon and Airship Club, the UK’s only current balloon Approved Training Organisation.

Congratulating Alex on his achievement, Ian Chadwick, the CAA’s balloon specialist, said: “We would like to wish Alex well for the future. He has already amassed considerable flying experience at a young age, having flown abroad as well as in the UK. Alex sets an example to all young people interested in flying by showing that dedication and perseverance can pay off.”

As well as undertaking a supervised, solo flight of at least thirty minutes, Alex also had to undertake at least sixteen hours of flight instruction, and carry out ten inflations and twnety take-offs and landings as part of his training.

Alex was presented with his licence by Tony Rapson, Head of the CAA’s General Aviation Unit on 17 June, at Aviation House, Gatwick.