A JOHNSTONE teenager who became one of the youngest people in the UK to fly solo has told how she hopes to become “an ambassador” for female pilots.

At the tender age of 16, Jennifer Cuthill is not even old enough to drive a car.

But, last month, she completed the impressive milestone of flying solo after only 17 hours of tuition.

Jennifer, who lives in Ulundi Road, is also a football referee – proving she is happy to take on roles more typically associated with men.

And she hopes her latest achievement will be the first step towards inspiring change for women in aviation.

Jennifer told The Gazette: “It [being a pilot] needs to be opened up to females more. It’s a very male-dominated industry and I hardly see any girls at training.

“I don’t think a lot of people at my school are very interested in becoming a pilot and I think it’s seen as quite a left-wing thing to be doing, especially as a woman.

“Hopefully, I can go far with this and encourage other women to take it up.

“I would absolutely love to do that and hopefully become a bit of an ambassador for the job.”

Jennifer, who is a pupil at the High School of Glasgow, completed her first solo flight at Prestwick Airport, in Ayrshire, with Leading Edge Flight Training.

Her next target is to complete 40 hours of flying time and acquire a pilot’s licence by her 17th birthday next August.

Jennifer has had an interest in planes from a young age and was on cloud nine when she was handed the chance to fly solo.

She added: “I have always been interested in planes and how they work because it’s such a big thing to fly through the air but I knew it was really expensive to learn to fly, so I never thought I would be able to do it.

“My dad said though that, if I wanted to do it, that would be fine.

The Gazette:

“I was not really expecting to do this so young and to get it done so quickly.

“I think I’d like to be a commercial pilot but I’d also like to keep my options open. So, another plan would be to eventually become an instructor.”

Proud dad Brian said he was inspired by his daughter defying the odds and representing women in the cockpit.

He said: “It’s an absolutely belting achievement.

“We used to drive past Glasgow Airport on the way to school every morning, so I always tried to encourage her to look at flying.

“She said she’d give it a try and she came home smiling from her first go.

“It’s great that she has achieved this, as there really aren’t many female pilots.

“It does seem the tide is turning a bit, though, with a lot of industries wanting to employ more females, so I hope Jennifer can go far with this.”

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