Schoolgirl pilot becomes youngest in Britain to fly an aeroplane solo after taking to the skies on her 16th birthday
15:06 GMT, 12 November 2012
She may have another year to wait before she can drive a car, but this teenager has become the youngest girl in Britain to pilot an aeroplane solo after taking to the skies on her 16th birthday.
Fearless Rachael Spelling, who first started taking accompanied flying lessons at the age of 14, soared to 2,000ft in sole control of a Piper Archer aeroplane the moment she reached the minimum legal age for flying alone.
The Hertfordshire teenager – who took up the hobby because she was bored during her school holidays – has already racked up 50 hours flying time at the helm of the four-seater aircraft, and said she is addicted to the 'rush' she gets from flying alone.
In the driving seat: Schoolgirl pilot Rachael Speller, 16, at the controls with her boyfriend Harry Bojakowski behind
Rachael, a boarder at exclusive Bishop's Stortford College in Hertfordshire, said that while her parents were 'freaked out' by her pastime at first, they have both been supportive of their daughter's new-found passion for flying.
'I think it freaked my mum out a little bit and dad was secretly panicking,' she said. 'It definitely makes my parents nervous, but they are excited for me.'
New hobby: The daredevil GCSE pupil took up flying lessons after complaining to her parents that she was bored during her school holidays
The student, from Benington, said it
had been her father's idea to find a new hobby to occupy her time during
the long summer break.
dad suggested different ideas because I was at a loose end in the
summer holidays and couldn't get a part-time job,' said the schoolgirl,
who takes lessons at Panshanger Aerodrome in Welwyn Garden City.
'Rush': The 16-year-old, seen at Panshanger Aerodrome, wants to fly private jets for a major airline
I went and tried flying for the day, I absolutely loved it and decided
that I wanted to be a pilot and learn how to fly on my own.
'I did my first solo flight literally to the minute that I turned 16,' she added.
Rachael went up alone as soon as she was legally allowed on her
birthday on October 28, she is believed to be the youngest girl in
Britain to have flown solo.
'I was sitting on the runway on my own and I thought “I can't believe I'm going to do this”,' she said
'It dawned on me that I'm not old enough to drive but here I was about to fly in the sky.
'It's amazing, you can't match the feeling of flying, you accelerate and you feel the rush as you go up.'
Rachael, who is due to take her GCSEs next summer, is a member of the Air Cadets and is currently training for her Private Pilot Licence (PPL) – although she will have to wait until she turns 17 to complete it.
Her father John Speller, 65, said he was proud of his daredevil daughter.
'It all started with wanting something to do on a Sunday afternoon,' he said.
'It is great that she is able to fly
alone, as our parents we put all of our trust in the instructors at
Panshanger – if they didn't think she was ready they wouldn't send her
'The first time is always nerve-wracking, but it is only like the first time you sit with your child
behind the wheel of a car. She is sensible and she loves it – we are
very proud of her.'
The high-flying teen may soon be at
the helm of a bigger aircraft than the four-seater she currently pilots,
as she is planning to gain her Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) at the
same time as studying for her A-levels. And Rachael already has her eye on a Virgin Airlines jet.
'One day I hope to fly for Richard Branson,' she said.
'I want to work for one of the major airlines and fly private jets.
'I thought about joining the RAF but I'd rather go into commercial flying as it suits my lifestyle better. I did a 737 simulator and really enjoyed it.'
She added: 'My brother Mark was very much into car rallying so I think between us we have kept our parents on their toes.
'The funny thing is my sister Lauren is petrified of flying.'
'Nervous': Rachael is congratulated by her mum, Jane Collins, after her first solo flight on her 16th birthday
Fearless: The schoolgirl has already racked up 50 hours flying time at the controls of the four-seater Piper Archer aeroplane