Pilot aspirations for Alex, 16, take off

HE IS not even old enough to get behind the wheel of a car, but Alex Heard can already boast flying solo.

The 16-year-old from Hessett, near Bury St Edmunds, completed his maiden flight at the weekend<13.02>, just eight days after his 16th birthday - the legal age to fly unaided.

Now Alex, a pupil at King Edward VI Upper School in Bury St Edmunds, has honed his sights on following in his dad’s footsteps and getting behind the controls of a Tornado.

After completing his first solo flight at RAF Marham, in Norfolk, on Saturday<13.02>, he is a step closer to realising his dream of becoming an RAF pilot.

“I would like to go to university first and go into the RAF as a jet pilot and after that probably follow in dad’s footsteps and go to commercial,” he said.

Alex first got interested in flying after watching his dad, a qualified instructor, giving lessons when he was 11 years old. It was on his 15th birthday that his father, Nick, bought him a pilot’s log book and offered to take him on his first lesson.

After the weather thwarted an attempt to get his solo wings the day after his birthday, Alex has still gone on to become one of the youngest solo pilots in the country. But he admitted to being a little apprehensive about his trip up in a Cessna 150.

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“At the start when we were lining up on the runway my dad was going through whether I should do it and eventually I said ‘yes I will’.

“At first I was quite nervous but then I felt a little better and I went through the take-off checks and when I got going I was fine,” he said, “It was very exciting.”

His father, 50, a Boeing 747 captain who flew in the RAF for 16 years, said: “It is by no means unique but it does not happen that often.

“Obviously I am very pleased.”