David, 76, takes to the skies after gaining his pilots’ licence

David Calver, 76, at the Rougham Airfield flying school where he has successfully passed his pilots

David Calver, 76, at the Rougham Airfield flying school where he has successfully passed his pilots licence. - Credit: Archant

An ex-RAF engineer is flying high after gaining his pilot licence at the age of 76.

David Calver with instructor Christopher Shepherd-Rose at the Rougham Airfield flying school

David Calver with instructor Christopher Shepherd-Rose at the Rougham Airfield flying school - Credit: Archant

David Calver, from Bury St Edmunds, literally flew through nine theory exams and two practical assessments before taking to the skies for his final test last month.

It took the great-grandfather-of-three just over a year to complete his training at Rougham Airfield, without his family knowing anything about it.

Yesterday he finally received his licence in the post and said he was “thrilled to bits” with his achievement.

“I can’t play sport any more because I had a back problem so when I saw an article about the Skyward Flight Training school at Rougham, I thought I’d look into that,” said Mr Calver, who also has five grandchildren.


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“I was in the RAF for 24 years and with all the flying I had done during that time as a passenger, I thought ‘perhaps I could actually do this’.

“I had the will and the motivation so I decided I would give it a go.”

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During the 12 months training, Mr Calver completed around 60 flying hours, sat nine written exams, took tests in communications, navigation and flying skills.

He added: “What meant a lot to me was when I went on my first solo navigation flight – that was quite an experience.

“My instructor Chris said although he has taught several older people, he hasn’t had anyone of my age pass their test before so he was quite pleased.

“It was a big challenge and no-one in my family apart from my wife knew about it until I called them all together and told them I had passed – they were all pretty shocked.”

His instructor Christoper Shepherd-Rose, who has been a pilot for 30 years and has 10,000 hours flying experience, said it was “quite an achievement” for Mr Calver to gain his licence.

He added: “We give lessons to people as young as 12 right through to people as mature as David, but most never gain their licence. It’s a big challenge and I don’t think I’d like to try to do it at the age of 76.

“David took this on because he wanted to achieve a goal and he has certainly managed that with flying colours.”

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