Young Flyers take to the sky at Halton

Over 70 local and service schoolchildren took to the skies recently as part of the Young Flyers scheme which aims to offer all children, between 8 and 18 years of age, a 20 minute flight in a light aircraft for them to discover the joy and thrill of aviation.

The concept originated in the USA as the Young Eagles in 1992 with the aim of flying 1 million children prior to the Centenary of Flight in 2004 and since its inception, over 1.5 million young people have flown for the first time within the programme. Annually, the RAF Halton Aero Club has organised and hosted an event to enable children an opportunity to experience aviation and have been recognised as flying over 20% of the ‘Young Flyers’ in the UK since running the first event at RAF Halton in 2000. The event is completed at the expense of the participating pilots and those on ground-duties volunteer their time freely. This year, priority was given to the children of RAF parents serving at RAF, Joint and MOD establishments within a 60-mile radius of RAF Halton. With a significant number of RAF parents expected, it also provided a great opportunity for the RAF Benevolent Fund to attend and showcase their latest families’ initiatives.

After a briefing the pilots stand in line to be introduced to their passengers, give them a flight safety brief and then take to the skies and they say that the smiles on the faces of the children is all the thanks they want.

Ryan Guest, who just made the age limit due to turning 18 later in the week, said: “It was amazing, the pilot was really good and put me at ease. We were so lucky with the weather and the view was stunning.”

Also flying was Bethany Lewsley aged 10 from Wendover, she said: “It was amazing, I loved it and was able to work out where my house was on the way back.”

Neil Burton, who works in the Specialist Training Squadron at RAF Halton was there with his daughter, Elizabeth and her friend Megan Cronin. Both girls, while posing for their photo with their certificate, said: “It was awesome and so cool. We saw everything and the pilot briefed us about where we were and what we saw. Thank you to our pilot, Rob.”

Officer in Charge of the Halton Aero Club, Group Captain Mark Manwaring said “The atmosphere at this year’s Halton Young Flyers was fantastic. The months of planning and preparation paid-off with great weather and a capacity attendance.Over the 4 hours, we flew 107 young aviators around the Vale of Aylesbury from this historic airfield. For the vast majority of the children this was the first time that they had flown in a light aircraft and I am sure that many have left the event with a new-found and hopefully life-long interest in aviation I first flew with the Air Cadets when I was 14 years old and have no doubt that this first opportunity changed my life and I hope we have given these youngsters the chance to think the same. We are looking forward to next year’s event, which will also commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the Halton Aero Club which formed at RAF Halton in 1925. My thanks go to all at RAF Halton that contributed their time and effort to this memorable day.”

To see some of the planes in action click on the short videos below:

G-ATZM click here

G-IJAG click here

J-44 click here

G-HACS click here

G-EDGA click here

XX537click here

XX629 click here

GBVTM click here

G-ATIN click here