For most 17-year-olds, learning to drive is the pinnacle of their ambitions, but it’s small fry for a Portadown teenager who has just got his pilot’s licence.
Adam Skelton, from Tarsan Lane, celebrated his 17th birthday on Saturday, happy in the knowledge that the licence was safely under his belt, having successfully flown his test six days previously.
The Southern Regional College student plans to take his mum Carol up for his maiden flight, when she will be his first official passenger.
This time last year, Adam, then a pupil at Craigavon Senior High School, celebrated his 16th birthday in style, taking to the skies above Co Tyrone at the controls of a two-seater plane on his first solo flight.
Adam is well used to being airborne as his dad Richard is a flying instructor at the C-more Flying School at Carrickmore, and has been his son’s personal tutor.
He said, “Adam was over the moon to get his licence. He was up early on Sunday morning to do the test over the Ards Peninsula. We hadn’t told anyone he was doing it!”
The test, which lasted just over an hour, saw Adam having to react quickly and correctly to situations such as engine failure and recovering from unusual ‘attitudes’ including the nose of the plane being too high up or too far down.
As well as the practical test, there were written exams on air law, weather, navigation, technical, and human performance and limitation, along with an oral test on the day.
Adam has now set his sights set on obtaining his driving licence and in typical, go-getting form, was out with his dad five minutes after midnight on his 17th birthday.
Said Richard. “I handed him the keys and we drove down to Asda. During the day he drove to Carrickmore. He is picking it up quickly and is now studying the Highway Code.”
Adam is insured to pilot his dad’s plane, and his friends will no doubt be queuing up for a ride as will his younger siblings Anna and Ryan, both of whom have flown many times.
The plane is a C42 Ikarus, and for anyone who knows their Greek mythology, Icarus met a sticky end when he ignored his father’s warnings and flew too close to the sun in wings made of wax and feathers.
Luckily for Adam, his wings will be of a much sturdier construction and he will not be ignoring his dad’s sound advice!
Richard said two-seater, fixed-wing planes, although light, are quite robust and well equipped.
“The engine has the same power as a big, commercial jet,” he added.