High flying teenager reaches for the sky

He's not old enough to drive a car, but one Blackpool lad has flown his parents to Southampton and back and is on course to be one of the UK's youngest pilots.

Thursday, 23rd November 2017, 4:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 5:13 am
Blackpool teenager Oliver Openshaw is set to gain his private pilot's licence aged just 16. He is learning at Blackpool Airport with Westair and is pictured with instructor Stuart Chambers

Sixteen-year-old Oliver Openshaw is reaching for the skies at Blackpool Airport and is all set to complete his private pilot’s licence.

Oliver, who went to Highfield Leadership Academy, is studying engineering at Blackpool and The Fylde College but would love to join one of the big airlines flying passengers around the world.

He said: “I have been interested in aviation since I was about eight-years-old when we used to go abroad on holiday. I started training for my private pilot’s licence in June last year with Westair at the airport and have to do a minimum of 45 hours flying, 10 hours flying solo and a series of nine exams plus skill tests.

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“I have just started my night flying rating and recently completed the cross country flight which you have to do alone, a three hour trip to two other airfields and back and I have just finished the PPL exams.

“To be a commercial pilot you have to start training at 18 and you need a minimum of 150 flying hours so I will have some way to go before considering that. I am studying engineering at college as a back up because training to be an airline pilot is so expensive.

“I am working part time at Hangar 3 while studying at college and love helping them handle the private jets that come in.

“I get to do a lot of the marshalling for them and it is great because you get to talk to so many other pilots who have so much experience to share.”

Oliver’s dad Paul said: “He joined the air cadets at the airport and had part-time jobs helping out at the hangars there for many years before starting training.

He recently flew us down to Southampton and back, with another pilot in the aircraft as he has yet to get his private pilot’s licence, and it was a strange feeling, normally it’s me driving the family around!

“We are very proud of him it is quite an achievement for someone of his age. It is tough on young people wanting to be commercial pilots because there are no apprenticeships and training is expensive.”