An Aboyne Academy pupil made a bit of local history this month, when he became the youngest pilot the Deeside Gliding Club has ever had.
14-year-old Ryan Littlejohn joined the club two years ago, and has been training in a two-seater glider, with his instructor giving him coaching from the back seat.
But on Friday, August 7, his instructor got out of the aircraft and said to his young charge: “It’s all yours, Ryan. Bring it back in one piece.”
Ryan is now Britain’s youngest ever solo glider flier - beating previous holder Callum Lavender, from Chinnor, Oxfordshire, by a number of days.
On the responsibility of gliding the aircraft solo, Ryan said: “I was really nervous, but at the same time I wasn’t, I was mostly fine. I wasn’t really thinking about anything but doing what I had to do.
“I just sort of pretended in my head that my instructor was there running through what I was doing.”
He added: “It’s weird seeing things that we see every day but from a completely different perspective. It’s really cool.”
Instructor Istvan Toth has taught Ryan since he started at the gliding club. He said: “He was outstanding right from the beginning, and after about 10 flights he could manage even the hardest conditions, so we just proceeded through the theory described in the manual.
“It was a pleasure to fly with this young man because he started early in his childhood when he was able to sit in the glider. And step by step, he learned everything with hard work.”
Toth has been gliding for 40 years, and in his time teaching, the youngest pilot he had taught before Ryan was 17-years-old.
This is Toth’s fourth season teaching gliding on Deeside, and he currently spends six months of the year here, and six months back in his native Hungary with his family.
He advised that anyone interested in learning to glide should arrange to have a trial.
“Then,” he said, “with some basic training, and enough enthusiasm, it will happen.”
Deeside Gliding Club can be contacted on 01339 885 339. The season ends in October.