Wirral boy, 12, takes flying lessons


A 12-year-old Wirral boy is well on his way to becoming a pilot, despite the fact he will have to wait five years until he can hold a pilot's licence.

Otto Dawes has been taking flying lessons since his 11th birthday.

He practised flying on a flight simulator on his computer in his bedroom at home, before graduating to flying for real with an instructor.

However the hours he spends in the air now will not count towards a licence because of his age.

The schoolboy pays half the cost of the tuition himself, earning money doing chores for neighbours while his parents pay the rest.

Otto's first flying lesson was 10 days after his 11th birthday in February 2010.

There's no statutory minimum age for flying lessons, when Otto turns 14 he can start recording his time in the air for a pilots licence.

'Very scared'

"The first time I went up I was very scared because it was my first time at the controls of a real aircraft," Otto told BBC Inside Out North West.

"When you're taking off on my flight simulator you see it, and you see what's happening and it's quite realistic.

Image caption,
Otto Dawes will not be able to hold a private pilot's licence until he is 17

"When you're doing it in real life, you can feel it, you can feel the wind pushing you off course and you can feel the speed in the take-off when you're pulling back on the stick."

Darren Draper, Otto's instructor from Merseyflight Air Training School, described him as a model pupil.

He said: "He's a good student, very enthusiastic, bright and bubbly when he bounces through the door.

"The good thing from an instructor's point of view is I haven't really got to supervise him when we're in straight and level flight."

BBC Inside Out took Otto, who flies out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, to a £10m flight simulator at the Oxford Aviation Academy in Woodford, Cheshire.

He spent an hour in the simulator, which replicates the experience of flying a Boeing 757 passenger jet.

You can see the full story of Otto's flight lessons on BBC Inside Out North West on iPlayer

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