High flying Harpenden teenager completes solo glide

Nathan Hampson-Jones being congratulated by Robin May, Cadet coordinator and instructor at the Londo

Nathan Hampson-Jones being congratulated by Robin May, Cadet coordinator and instructor at the London Gliding Club - Credit: Photo supplied

A teenager from Harpenden is now part of a small and elite group of people who are among the youngest to fly a glider solo in the UK.

Nathan Hampson-Jones, a Year 10 pupil at Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden, successfully applied for a pilot cadetship at the London Gliding Club which is based at the foot of Dunstable Downs.

The 14 year old was ‘over the moon’ at gaining a place in the scheme and sought every opportunity at weekends and after school to practice, and help other pilots at the popular beauty spot.

Cadets’ responsibilities range from towing gliders on the ground to helping with the control tower, and preparing gliders for take-off.

The club constantly assesses the attributes of those on the scheme, such as their attitude, commitment, maturity and willingness to help out with wider activities.

And this month Nathan was rewarded for his efforts by completing his first solo glider flight, managing to get up to around 2,000 feet.

At 14, he is at the youngest legal age to fly a glider solo and is the first of this year’s cadets to achieve the milestone

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Nathan said the training helped him gain confidence in his ability to fly, adding: “Club members are very supportive and have encouraged me all the way. It’s really exciting when you find a thermal [current of warm air used to gain height] and manage to gain several hundred feet in height.

“With the right weather you can fly for hours. I’m just lost for words to describe the feeling of completing my first solo flight.

“I’m looking forward to doing long distance, cross country and aerobatics.”

The London Gliding Club encourages young people to take up the sport, with pilot training starting from the age of 14.

For more information see www.londonglidingclub.co.uk/