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Despite having to wait almost another three years before he can legally drive a car in the UK, on 15 April Maksim ‘Maks’ Ferguson from Southport, Merseyside claimed the title of youngest UK citizen−and one of the youngest in the world−to fly solo in a powered aircraft. Maksim, then fourteen years, one month and 28 days old, made a solo flight in a Piper Warrior from Burlington, Ontario, Canada.
“They had cancelled nearly all the flights as the weather was so bad and I thought that any opportunity to fly had gone out the window,” he says. “Then we got a call from the Chief Flying Instructor, who said I was ready and could go solo. It all happened so fast and I was so nervous sitting there on the runway in the plane by myself. It also didn’t help that my dad−who is also a pilot−and all my instructors were stood right beside it filming me and taking pictures!
“It was still really windy and I just thought to myself, ‘concentrate, you can do this’. It was a big relief though when I touched back down… This whole experience is a massive tick off my flying bucket list. I want to go solo in the UK as soon as I turn sixteen and we will definitely be coming back to Canada before then so I can go solo again.”
Maksim took his first official flying lesson with Air Navigation & Trading at Blackpool when he was eight years old, and has since logged forty-plus official and numerous unofficial flying hours. His flying instructor at ANT, Russell Whyham, said: “Maks is by far the youngest pilot we’ve ever trained in our seventyplus year history. He’s been obsessed with aeroplanes since his first lesson… His level of training, skill and dedication has meant that he’s been ready to fly solo for a number of years now and the only thing that’s held him back is his age. We already have his first solo UK flight planned on his sixteenth birthday and we are counting down the days to when he can progress onto more complex flying techniques and routes.”
And Maksim’s ultimate ambition? “One day I want to fly for one of the major airlines or join the RAF.”
Maksim Ferguson before his historic solo flight
Maks flying his first solo circuit