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A member of staff from 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron Air Training Corps has recently attended a reception at St James Palace in London hosted by The Duke of Edinburgh in recognition of being awarded one of 25 national flying scholarships. Pilot Officer Ben Pinner was awarded an Air League flying scholarship at the beginning of 2003 following a selection interview at the Air League head office in London . The Air League flying scholarships are open to everyone aged 17 to 26 and are all funded from charitable donations by large companies such as BAE Systems, British Airways and many other individual sponsors. Plt Off Pinner was awarded a 15-hour scholarship funded by Meisser Dowty.

The 15-hour scholarship is designed to give young people their first taste of civil light aircraft flying and is aimed at pushing them towards gaining a Private Pilots License. In those 15 flying hours the scholarship winner is expected to have gone solo, a huge achievement for anyone. Plt Off Pinner is also an Air Cadet gliding instructor at 637 Volunteer Gliding School at RAF Little Rissington. His experience of over 100 hours in the Air Cadets Grob 109 Vigilant motorised glider enabled him to make the most of his scholarship. After his first flight in a Cessna light aircraft Ben began learning the skills needed to conduct cross-country flying, by the end of a week of flying, exams and after only 4 flights in the Cessna, Ben was sent off on his cross-country solo. He flew from Wellesbourne airfield to Cambridge and then after landing at Cambridge for fuel departed for Leicester airfield before returning to Wellesbourne.

Plt Off Ben Pinner said: "Flying solo across the country was a very exhilarating experience, after only such a short time flying the Cessna, to be told your going off across the country on your own was a real achievement. The experience I had previously gained flying with the Air Cadets was a real advantage to me during the scholarship,"

After completing his solo cross-country Ben was invited to attend a reception at St James Palace with His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip. The reception was attended by several senior Royal Air Force officers, including the Chief of the Air Staff, as well as many other people such as David Hempleman Adams, climber of Mount Everest and solo Balloonist, Concorde's Chief Pilot and the 24 other scholarship winners.

Plt Off Ben Pinner added "The experience of attending a reception at St James Palace and being allowed to mix with and talk to so many important people was just incredible, although the Air League Scholarships are for everyone, if it hadn't been for my time as a cadet in the Air Training Corps I would not have been able to succeed with my flying in the way that I have."

Vsit the Air League web-site

Pilot Officer Ben Pinner Proudly displays his Air League certificate after the presentation at St James Palace

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Page last updated, Sunday, 17 September, 2006 10:15 PM .