SHE’S not old enough to drive a car.
Yet Charlotte Kitchen is delighted she has been able to take to the skies above Yorkshire as a solo pilot.
Charlotte, of Denby Dale, took her first solo flight in a glider this week.
And her only regret was that her bid to make that flight on Boxing Day, which was her 16th birthday, was thwarted by bad weather.
Shelley College student Charlotte has been learning to fly at the Burn Gliding Club near Selby, where her dad Andy is a pilot.
And she successfully completed her maiden solo flight in one of the club’s K13 gliders.
Charlotte was over the moon about the flight.
She said “As the glider was getting lined up for my launch, all that was going through my head was that I am now going to die.
“However as I released the cable at the top of the launch I thought “phew, stage 1 completed”.
“I soon started thinking that I wanted my feet back on solid ground and headed back to the airfield. As I glided down on to the runway, relief flooded into my body and I heard the congratulations of my family and friends who had been watching.”
Charlotte attends Shelley College where she is studying for her GCSEs in preparation for becoming a professional dancer, contemporary dancing being one of her many other interests.
She started to learn to fly when she was 13 encouraged by her dad Andy, who is also a glider pilot at Burn.
She has been competent enough to fly solo for some time, but was prevented from doing this until she reached the legal age limit of 16.
Tony Flannery, chairman of Burn Gliding Club, who was the instructor who sent Charlotte solo, said “We are very happy and satisfied with Charlotte’s continued efforts.
“She has shown commitment to the task of learning that which many others have done before her, namely flying accurately and ultimately safely with us.”
Charlotte was helped with the cost of her flying by bursaries from the Royal Aeronautical Society and from the Caroline Trust.
It’s another success for the talented teen, who has qualified for the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD).
She came through three auditions to win the coveted place.
Gliding is not as expensive as many might think.
The Burn Gliding Club, a private gliding club operating out of Burn Airfield near Selby, offers a solo flight package for £820, no matter how many lessons it requires.
Flights in the club’s own fleet of gliders can cost as little as £6.30 for five minutes, although a typical 30-minute winch-launch flight is £36.
The club is based at the wartime Halifax bomber base at Burn.
It now has more than 100 members from all over Yorkshire with ages ranging from 13 to 91 and operates seven club gliders, plus a number of privately-owned gliders.