Teenager, 16, becomes youngest girl to fly a plane after learning because she was bored in school holidays
A 16-year-old has become the youngest girl in Britain to pilot an aeroplane solo – after learning to fly because she was bored in her school holidays.
Gutsy Rachael Spelling has already racked up 50 hours flying time at the controls of a four-seater Pipe Archer aeroplane.
The high flyer first took to the skies aged just 14 when she took an accompanied lesson to alleviate the boredom of the long summer holidays.
She notched up enough training and experience to fly solo as soon as she turned 16 – the minimum legal age for flying alone.
Fearless Rachael shot straight up to 2,000ft (610m) above Panshanger Aerodrome, Herts., wowing her instructor and pals – but terrifying her parents.
Because she took her first solo flight on her 16th birthday she is believed to be the youngest girl in Britain to ever fly a plane alone.
Rachael, a pupil at exclusive Bishop’s Stortford College, now regularly flies on her own – despite being a year away from being allowed to drive a car.
She admitted she is addicted to the “rush” and feeling of “freedom” she gets from flying alone.
She said: “My dad suggested different ideas because I was at a loose end in the summer holidays and couldn’t get a part-time job.
“So 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.
“I was sitting on the run away on my own and I thought ‘I can’t believe I’m going to do this’.
“I was looking out at the runway in front of me and it dawned on me that I’m not old enough to drive but here I was about to fly in the sky.
“I think I am one of the youngest girls in Britain to fly a plane – I absolutely love it.
“It is amazing you can’t match the feeling of flying, you accelerate and you feel the rush as you go up.
“I am a member of the Air Cadets and because I have already racked up around 50 hours of flying I am allowed my ‘wings’.”
She added: “I think it freaked my mum out a little bit and dad was secretly panicking – it definitely makes my parents nervous, but they are excited for me.
“Both my parents have been really supportive of my hobby and trust the instructors at Panshanger Aerodrome to have taught me everything I need to know.”
Rachael, who boards at her school during term time, first took up flying when she complained of boredom at home two summers ago, aged just 14.
After 22 months of flying she decided to go it alone and piloted her first solo flight on her 16th birthday, on October 28.
The Air cadet, who takes her GCSEs next summer, is currently training for her Private Pilot License (PPL) but is unable to complete it until she turns 17.
Rachael hopes to study maths, physics, geography and psychology at A Level at her £21,000-a-year school, from next September.
Dad John Speller, 65, a landlord for a series of industrial units, said he was really proud of his daughter.
He said: “It all started with wanting something to do on a Sunday afternoon.
“It is great that she is able to fly alone, as her 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 up.
“The first time is always nerve racking 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.”
She then hopes to go on to do her Commercial Pilot License (CPL), at the same time as her A-levels, which would allow her to fly commercial planes.
Rachael, who lives in Benington, Herts., said: “One day I hope to fly for Richard Branson, 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.
“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.”