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Bangor teenager Amy on a flight path to success after landing elite pilot award


Amy Palmer is congratulated by instructor Mike Allen

Amy Palmer is congratulated by instructor Mike Allen

Amy Palmer is congratulated by instructor Mike Allen

A teenager who dreams of flying planes for a living has picked up a major UK award from an elite group of pilots in London.

Amy Palmer (19), from Bangor, gained her private pilot's licence in just 15 weeks this summer, thanks to a scholarship from the professional guild The Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

More than 3,000 people applied for eight scholarships given by the pilots' group this year.

This week Amy was delighted to learn she will receive the guild's annual John Landymore Trophy for most outstanding candidate. She will fly to London later this month to pick up her award at a black tie event.

She said: "It is just fantastic and another step towards my dream of flying planes. Hopefully it will help me in applying for further scholarships with commercial airlines.

"Getting my private licence would have cost about £9,800 and it would have taken me a few years to save that, so getting it paid for through the scholarship was a major step."

The teenager left Bangor Glenlola Collegiate last year with A-levels in physics, maths and technology. She worked in a local chemist's while figuring out her route to becoming a qualified pilot.

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Amy says she has wanted to be a pilot since the age of five, and when her parents bought her a flying lesson for her 13th birthday she was "hooked".

She said: "It was the best 30 minutes of my life. My parents booked it for me to see if it would be as good in reality as I had imagined and it was amazing. I was hooked and from then on all I have wanted is to fly planes for a living."

Amy trained at the Ulster Flying Club in Newtownards.

She had to complete 45 hours of flight instruction on airplanes, including 10 hours of supervised solo flight time, and a five hour cross country flight. It can cost £120,000 to train as a commercial pilot and Amy's only hope is to secure a scholarship with an airline or get the chance to train with the RAF. "It will take time but it is the only thing I want to do and I don't care if it is short haul or long haul, all I want to do is fly a plane," she said.

Mike Allen, who was himself a pilot with commercial airlines and flew privately-owned jets, was one of Amy's instructors.

He said: "Amy is a great role model at a time when there are so few female pilots (only about 5% of the world's pilots are female) and with the current worldwide shortage of commercial pilots I hope this will encou rage others to follow in her footsteps, or should I say wake."

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