Schoolboy makes history with solo glider flight

Sam Smith
Sam Smith

A teenager from Weston Turville has become the youngest person to fly solo from RAF Halton in its 102-year flying history.

Sam Smith, aged 14, who attends Akeley Wood School, took to the skies in an ASK21 glider belonging to the Chilterns RAF Gliding and Soaring Activity Centre based on the airfield, on Sunday, January 22.

Sam had just completed three instructional sorties when his instructor said that he ought to go and do it on his own. Sam, who only joined the club last September, went solo with only four hours and 56 minutes and 24 launches under his belt.

Sam comes from a gliding family, with his father spending many years serving as an Air Cadet RAF Volunteer Reserve Training officer and also with RAF Halton’s 613 Volunteer Gliding Squadron.

Sam’s instructor, Flt Lt Luke Hornsey, is a member of staff and an officer from Berkhamsted School Combined Cadet 
Force and also the deputy chief flying instructor with the gliding centre. Sam made a textbook flight from the southerly runway at Halton.

He said: “I talked to myself the whole time. I treated it as though Luke was in the back with me and I was just telling him what I was doing. I was nervous but I loved every minute of it.”

A Cadet Corporal with 2409 (Halton) Squadron Air Training Corps, Sam has had a passion for aviation since he could walk and immerses himself in it at every opportunity.

The chief flying instructor, Chief Technician Paul Moslin, sent the following message to all club members: “I would like to congratulate Sam Smith on his first solo today.

“A great achievement 
for anyone, but at 14 and four months and with only five hours makes it even more special.

“Well done Sam.”