Earlston High School teenager Ryan Snook’s head literally can be found in the clouds these days thanks to his love of glider flying, writes Mark Entwistle.
Ryan, 13, has just been awarded £250 towards the cost of further flight training at the Borders Gliding Club, by the Caroline Trust – a charity which raises funds to help young people to learn to glide.
Ryan and his family live near St Boswells and it was a few months ago that he and his dad, Steve, joined the club. Both have since impressed their instructors with their dedication to training as glider pilots.
Ryan’s application to the Caroline Trust had to be approved by the club’s chief flying instructor – Keith Latty – and the club had to commit £250 of matching funds in the event of an award being granted.
It means Ryan now has a total of £500 to put towards gaining his solo license as a glider pilot.
And although the youngster only has nine training flights under his belt, veteran gliding instructor Alastair Fish, of Kelso, was very impressed on their flight together last week.
Alastair reported that Ryan completed the entire 30-minute flight, including take-off, aerotow, circuit and landing, with barely any instruction or control-inputs from himself.
And if Ryan continues to make progress at this rate, he may well be allowed to fly solo as a glider pilot on his 14th birthday, next spring.
Steve told TheSouthern his son has always dreamed of becoming a professional pilot: “Every spare moment Ryan has is spent learning about aircraft, flying his flight-simulator or reading flying books and he hopes to eventually become a gliding instructor, so that he can give something back to the sport.
“He also plans to start training for his power-pilot’s licence as soon as he is 16, with a view to gaining his licence at 17. He doesn’t yet know which career in flying he wants to try for - Royal Air Force or airline – but he is certain the sport of gliding will always be in his life.”
In addition to being a student pilot at Milfield airfield where the club has its base, Ryan is also a keen and active member of the Air Training Corps’ 1716 squadron (Roxburgh), where he is working towards passing his leading cadet qualification.
Ryan told TheSouthern this week that the cash award from the Caroline Trust was a tremendous opportunity.
“I am so grateful to the trust and to our chief flying instructor, Keith Latty, and all at the Borders Gliding Club for their support,” he said.
“Flying is a huge part of my life and when I’m not flying, I love building models, flying my remote-controlled plane, flying my simulator or reading more about flying.
“This grant has come just in the nick of time. We’re very lucky to enjoy exceptional gliding conditions at our club and every year we host other clubs for a week at a time.
“I participated in one of the weeks during the half-term break and spent all my savings and birthday money flying, so was just coming to terms with the idea of having to fly infrequently for a while until I was able to save enough money again to continue.
“Then news of this grant came through and it means the world to me as it means I can continue progressing with my syllabus at a steady rate.
“I also need to say a very big thank you to my regular instructor, Richard Abercrombie, as he really has looked out for me.
“I love being at the club. We’re very lucky to have such an experienced and wise bunch of members who are always happy to share their knowledge.”