14-year-old becomes youngest pilot to receive RAF Air Cadets Civilian Wings
PUBLISHED: 14:47 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:47 03 February 2020
A teenager from Southport has become the youngest person in the history of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets to receive his Civilian Wings, aged just 14
Maksim Ferguson received the honour from Wing Commander Eddie Challoner MBE at 611 (Formby) Squadron Air Cadet Headquarters and coincidentally, on the very airfield where at 14 Air Cadet Eddie had awaited his first air experience flight in an Avro Anson.
The accolade has seen the RAF Air Cadets review its own rules for bestowing Civilian Wings on promising young pilots as usually recipients are required to be at least 16 years old, the UK's legal age for flying solo in a powered aircraft.
However, as Maksim has already flown solo in Canada - and broke the record to become the UK's youngest person to solo pilot a powered aircraft - he's earned his wings and been awarded the honour two years earlier than any pilot in British history.
The presentation came as a complete surprise to Maksim, who made his first ever solo flight at Spectrum Airways in Burlington, Ontario in April 2019. He has been a member of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets for two years and understood that Civilian "C" Wings are usually only presented to aviators over the age of 16.
Maksim commented: "The presentation was one of Wing Commander Challoner's last duties in the RAFAC before retiring and, as he was speaking, I thought how inspiring that he'd once been a 14-year-old cadet like me and had spent a lifetime with the Air Cadets and achieved so much.
"It was only when he started talking about a 14-year-old making history with his first solo flight that I realised that he was speaking about me."
A shining example of the aims of the Air Cadets, Maksim took off in gusty conditions in a Piper PA-28 single engine, four-seater aeroplane for his first solo flight in April 2019.
He initially flew a full circuit at Burlington Airfield at a height of 1000 feet, before going on to complete a further 2.5 hours of solo flight time and achieving his Canadian Student Pilot Permit.
Presenting Maksim with his badge, Wing Commander Challoner said: "63 years ago, I too was a 14-year-old cadet standing here. I remember at aged 17 having to await my first solo flight and here we have someone who, aged just 14, has already achieved that amazing milestone. This 14-year-old is dynamic, focused and has come into aviation knowing exactly what he wants to do.
"Presenting the "C" Wings badge to Ferguson is a fitting end to my service as he embarks on what I'm certain will be an extraordinary career in aviation for him. He has an important job to do now.
"With this badge comes responsibility and I'm sure that he will rise to the challenge of being a role model for other young people."