Charlie takes to the sky solo at the age of 16

Charlie ready for his first solo flight
Charlie ready for his first solo flight

A Storrington student achieved his own personal landmark the day after the London 2012 Olympic Games ended earlier this month,

Charlie Millis, a 16-year-old student, flew solo for the first time in a K21 glider at Southdown Gliding Club.

He started his flying training in 2011 and is the first of Southdown’s young cadet student pilots to achieve a solo flight this year.

It is all the more amazing as he had been studying hard for his GSCEs and could only take flying lessons during holidays.

Charlie said: “It was a wonderful experience and it contained a feeling of independence. Without having an instructor with me, it put the safety of me and the glider at my own risk and it made me realise there really was no backup if something went wrong, the only help I would have would be from my training from the previous weeks.

“I landed quite safely and then it seemed like the entire club seemed to be standing by and saying congratulations, many handshakes later, and a few photographs as well, all that was left to do was to go up again!”

His instructor said Charlie flew a ‘text-book’ flight and fully justified all the training he’d been given. His father, Edward Mills, who is also learning to become a glider pilot, looked on proudly and apprehensively. After congratulating his son, he said: “Much of my son’s training took place at the age of 15. As the day of a solo flight became closer, there were the inevitable concerns that even at the age of 16 hecould be allowed to fly solo before he could legally drive a car!”

Charlie is a student at Winchester College and is believed to be the first 16-year-old there to achieve a solo glider fligh. Charlie’s other main interests are water ski-ing and dingy sailing and chess.

He is one of a band of young cadets at the gliding club.