Teenager makes aviation history as he glides solo

Connor McIver Gets his Wings from Instructor Robin Johnson.
Connor McIver Gets his Wings from Instructor Robin Johnson.

A 14-year-old has made gliding history by becoming the youngest pilot ever to fly solo in Northumberland or Scotland in more than a century.

On Saturday, 14-year-old Connor McIver made the landmark flight at Borders Gliding Club in Milfield – having been sent solo by his instructor, Robin Johnson, after a series of rigorous check flights.

Until last week, the existing Laws and Rules of the British Gliding Association did not permit anyone to attempt to fly solo before the age of 16, since students below that age were unlikely to have developed the necessary skills, judgement and emotional maturity.

However, the new European Agency which controls all flight rules (EASA) has changed the regulations, and student pilots can now go solo at 14, as long as they can satisfy their instructors that they have mastered all aspects of the BGA Flight Syllabus – and most importantly – they have to demonstrate good judgement and emotional maturity.

Connor lives with his parents Ian and Sue McIver in the village of New Abbey near Dalbeattie; he comes from an impressive line of glider pilots, since both his father Ian and grandfather John have been flying for decades.

Piloting the club’s K21 two-seat training glider, Connor performed a perfect take-off and aero-tow behind the tug plane and soared for just under 12 minutes before carrying out a well-judged circuit and landing.