A schoolgirl who isn’t even old enough to drive a car is believed to have become Britain’s youngest solo pilot – aged just 16.
Ellie Carter flew a proper powered plane just three days after she turned 16 – paying for lessons with her pocket money.
The junior aviator’s hobby took off aged nine after she was invited to the California base of the U-2 spy plane – her favourite – and she flew with some of the US pilots.
She has been having lessons ever since and has already become the youngest solo glider pilot on her 14th birthday.
Ellie now has the record for the youngest Brit to fly a glider and a powered plane.
Bright Ellie had hoped to fly solo in a powered aircraft for the first time on her 16th birthday – but was left grounded by Storm Diana.
But despite the hold up, she flew three days later, and is believed to be the youngest female solo pilot – and the first girl to fly both solos at the youngest possible age.
The solo flight lasted around 10 minutes due to low clouds.
Brave Ellie, from Great Torrington, Devon, said: “I don’t really think about being on my own too much when I’m flying because there’s a lot to do while you’re up there.
“There are a lot of procedures you’ve got to do correctly.
“You don’t really think of it then but now I do and it’s amazing to think of flying solo.
“I just love everything about it.
“I have always been interested in physics and the power planes side of things and all the different quirks. I just love flying basically.
“People react differently to my age.
“I have definitely had people coming up to me saying ‘are you flying the plane’ or ‘how old are you’ and stuff, but there are very different reactions and people ask a lot of questions.”
Aged nine, Ellie wrote to the organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, to ask if a U-2 spy plane could feature at the event.
The letter came to the attention of Beale Air Force Base, California, and she was invited to fly with its pilots.
She started regular lessons soon after which she paid for with pocket money saved from doing jobs around the house on top of Christmas and birthday money.
She said the first flight “basically kick-started my flying ambition”.
In 2016, she completed two six-minute flights at Devon and Somerset Gliding Club, based at North Hill airfield, near Honiton.
For her latest record attempt Ellie flew a Cessna 152 at Dunkeswell airfield in Devon.
Pilots have to be 14 years old to fly a glider alone and 16 for a powered plane.
She had planned to take flight in the powered plane on the day of her sixteenth birthday but was left grounded by Storm Diana on November 28.
She said: “It was really disappointing, I did really want to go solo on my birthday, but at the end of the day it’s more important to be safe than to risk something.”
She returned on November 30 but the wind was still too strong and she had to wait until December 1 to make the flight.
“It does feel great that I have now done it as it’s another weight off your shoulders,” she said.
Ellie said she has been obsessed with flying since she was a toddler.
She has already taken the controls of 20 different aircraft – including a Second World War L4 Grasshopper – and hopes to become an instructor when she grows up.
“I would love to give back the passion people have given me so, it would just be awesome to repay it,” she said.
She tries to fly each week, depending on the weather, and has racked up 75 hours in the sky.
Her father Neil said: “The first time is always a little bit, you know, you’re thinking a lot of people are scared for their kids to just go down the street to the shops aren’t they.
“You get a few initial fears, but it’s quite a safe and well-judged industry so I am quite happy with it.”
Referring to not being able to fly on her 16th birthday due to the weather, he added: “We keep getting told off for having her in the middle of winter.
“We should have had her in the summer apparently, so it’s our fault.”