A Ron Dearing UTC student has become one of the youngest people in the country to secure a pilot’s licence.
Liam Garrett, 18, has gained his Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) after working hundreds of hours in a supermarket to fund his dream.
Sixth form student Liam worked 900 hours as an assistant in the home shopping department at Asda in Hessle Road, west Hull, to pay for 49 hours of practical and theory-based training – four hours more than the 45 hours required to earn his licence.
Liam trained with Hull Aero Club at Beverley Airfield in Leven, East Yorkshire, every Sunday since April 2021. He used 90% of his wages to cover the £147 per hour lessons.
Liam said: “I’ve wanted to fly since my seventh birthday when I was allowed into the cockpit on a flight home from Lanzarote. The plane was on the stand and the captain let me push the throttle forward a little bit.
“I sat back in my seat and the captain announced it was my birthday, so everyone sang to me.
“I spoke to a few pilots online during lockdown and I knew that if I worked hard, I could learn to fly, so I booked my first lesson and never looked back.
“It didn’t sink in that I’d passed until my licence landed on the doormat. I absolutely love flying because you’re away from everything, you’re completely focused on it and one hour feels like 10 minutes.
“It’s quite unusual for someone my age to gain this licence. I learnt to fly a plane before I passed my driving test!”
Liam learnt to fly in a two-seater Cessna 152 light aircraft and has now progressed to a four-seater as he continues his training.
His ultimate dream is to become a commercial airline pilot for a major flight company and he is already planning the next required 180 hours in the sky at Doncaster Sheffield Airport Flying School over the next two years to fulfil his ambitions.
Liam said: “I’m so excited and can’t wait to fly a twin engine commercial aircraft. In another two years I want to be in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft carrying passengers.
“Nottingham is the furthest I’ve flown so far. Determination definitely took over during Covid and I’m really proud of myself for pursuing it.
“My computing teachers at Ron Dearing UTC have been really supportive and interested in what I’ve been doing. It’s nice to have that support at school from both students and teachers.”
Anyone can fly a plane or helicopter as a passenger or student as long as there is a licenced pilot in the cockpit to take control if required. However, you must be 16-years-old before you can take a solo flight and 17-years-old before you can earn a Private Pilot’s Licence.
Liam’s training included more than 10 hours of solo flight. He passed his theory exams with an average mark of 98%, passed his skill test on 12 May this year and was awarded his licence soon after.
His examiner, Peter Spencer, Head of Training at Hull Aero Club, said: “It’s a tremendous achievement for anyone to gain a Private Pilot’s Licence but all the more so at just 18-years-old. Liam joins a select group who have accomplished this as a teenager.
“We’re glad he has chosen Hull Aero Club to take the first step towards becoming a professional pilot and wish him every success in that endeavour.”
Liam’s mum Debbie, who recently flew with him, said she is proud of her son and his drive to succeed.
She said: “Liam has worked so hard. I’m not a big fan of flying but he is really confident and he made me feel at ease. He is very determined and we’re so proud of him.”
Sarah Pashley, Principal at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “This is an amazing achievement for Liam and certainly something to be proud of.
“We actively encourage our students to take part in various enrichment activities outside of the classroom to broaden their horizons and soak up culture, music, sport, arts and more.
“Liam is a shining example of what can be achieved and we’re very proud he’s using his drive and ambition outside of school to follow his dream and reach his goals.”