Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Only Way Is Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Only Way Is Up

Article excerpt

Byline: By Liz Hands

At the age of 16, Daniel Swaddle is too young to hold a driving licence.

But the daredevil teenager will soon have a more impressive means of getting from A to B as one of the youngest people in the country to earn his wings.

A sixth-form student from Blyth, Daniel has passed his first set of pilot's exams and is set to sit his final tests on Thursday.

If he's successful, he will be handed his full licence on April 16 - his 17th birthday.

"I can't wait," said Daniel yesterday. "As soon as I made my first flight, I was completely hooked. It's just such an amazing feeling."

Now Daniel, studying A-levels in information technology, business studies and general studies at St Benetbiscop School in Bedlington, has a queue of friends and family waiting to be his first passenger.

"I can make solo flights at the moment and take people up if I've got an instructor with me, but I'll be able to take passengers out by myself when I turn 17," he said. "My mates are all dying for me to take them up."

Daniel first caught the flying bug after a family holiday when he was 10.

"I was too young to start powered flight, so I joined a gliding club and that was it. It made me more determined than ever to be able to fly a plane."

He started going to the training school at Newcastle Aero Club three years ago where he completed 45 hours training - the number required before he could sit his test.

On Friday, he was able to pass around three-quarters of it in a tiny four-seater plane, but will have to take the rest this Thursday after being forced out of the sky by adverse weather conditions.

"Low cloud put an end to my test, but I've got the hard part over with now," said Daniel. "It's such a relief to be going up on Thursday with most of it behind me."

Daniel - who lives with his mother Judith, a shop supervisor, father Paul, a former policeman, and eight-year-old brother Matthew at Trevelyan Avenue in Blyth - is determined to become a commercial pilot with one of the big-name airlines.

"It's so competitive to get into and incredibly expensive," he said.

"It's my dream to get sponsorship from one of the commercial airlines. Even then, you generally have to fund about pounds 30,000 out of a total cost of pounds 100,000 yourself."

Yesterday, Judith said her brother, British Airways pilot Brian Cook, had proved an inspiration to Daniel.

"Brian's across in Kuwait doing pilot training with the forces at the moment and is due to rejoin British Airways in May," she said.

"I'm so proud of Daniel. When he did his first solo flight, I was terrified. The whole family went to the airfield to watch him and my heart was in my mouth, but it was such a proud moment as well.

"Now, his little brother Matthew is really into planes. …

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