Teenage pilot flies craft solo over South Downs

Dominic Fritche - Southdown Gliding Club Storrington 2 SUS-141108-094158001
Dominic Fritche - Southdown Gliding Club Storrington 2 SUS-141108-094158001

A Weald student took to the skies solo at just 15-years-old at the Southdown Gliding Club near Storrington.

On Wednesday August 6, Dominic Fritche flew solo for the first time in a K21 glider at Southdown Gliding Club, Parham Airfield, after completing his training this year.

Dominic is the third 15-year-old at the club to go solo in the last 12 months at Southdown since European rules lowered the age limit.

Dominic, who is a student at The Weald School in Billingshurst, was thrilled with his experience.

He said: “It was a great experience for me and one which I won’t be forgetting. My instructor, Rod, is a great instructor who I must thank for the opportunity. One year ago, my uncle took me for a flight, and now I can take myself.”

His instructor Rod Walker said: “The conditions were excellent and Dominic flew his first solo beautifully. He has the aptitude and skills to become a very good glider pilot.”

It seems Dominic is following in both his father’s and his uncle’s footsteps. His father is a professional pilot and his uncle is a top national glider pilot.

Unfortunately, his father was working away flying on the day but sent messages to say how proud he was when he heard the news.

Dominic’s grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousin were there to share his special day.

Southdown Gliding Club, an accredited Junior Gliding Centre, is one of the largest and best equipped voluntary-run gliding clubs in Britain.

It has around 270 members and 50 gliders based at its airfield. It has a vibrant cadet scheme where youngsters, who show promise, are heavily subsidized to help them with the cost of flying training.

Many of the cadets go on to have careers in aviation and the club includes many airline pilots in its membership. The club has the latest in gliding technology where budding pilots of all ages learn to fly state-of-the-art gliders capable of soaring for many hours and over long distances.

Visit: www.southdowngliding.co.uk