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Meet Suffolk's youngest female solo glider pilot

Teenage glider pilot Lucy Clarke recently took to the skies on her own Picture: TONY CLARKE

Teenage glider pilot Lucy Clarke recently took to the skies on her own Picture: TONY CLARKE

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A teenager from Suffolk has taken to the skies in her first solo flight in a glider - the youngest female pilot in the county to do it.

Lucy said there is nothing quite like soaring silently through the sky Picture: TONY CLARKELucy said there is nothing quite like soaring silently through the sky Picture: TONY CLARKE

Lucy Clarke, 16, from Creeting St Mary, took up the high-flying pastime 18 months ago and has fallen in love with the experience of soaring silently through the sky.

The Debenham High School student, who is currently waiting for her GCSE results, has recently braved a solo flight, taking off, gliding and landing with just her in the cockpit.

Lucy Clarke, 16, met astronaut Major Tim Peake at the Royal International Air Tattoo. He congratuated her on her first solo glider flight Picture: TONY CLARKELucy Clarke, 16, met astronaut Major Tim Peake at the Royal International Air Tattoo. He congratuated her on her first solo glider flight Picture: TONY CLARKE

Lucy said there is nothing quite like the feeling of being in the air.

"I absolutely love it," she said.
"I love seeing everything from so high up.
"The view you can get on a really good day is amazing.

Lucy Clarke, 16, who is currently waiting for her GCSE results, wants to have a career in aviation Picture: TONY CLARKELucy Clarke, 16, who is currently waiting for her GCSE results, wants to have a career in aviation Picture: TONY CLARKE

"Even from Wattisham, you can see all the way to the Orwell Bridge.

"It's so peaceful up there because you don't have the engine you have on a powered aircraft.

Lucy Clarke, 16, glides weekly through Army Gliding Club (Anglia), based at Wattisham  Picture: TONY CLARKELucy Clarke, 16, glides weekly through Army Gliding Club (Anglia), based at Wattisham Picture: TONY CLARKE

"When I glide, which is every Saturday, I get about four flights in a day.

"It all depends on the weather because if it's really good for gliding and you have pockets of hot air you can stay up for hours at a time.

Lucy Clarke, 16, recently yook her first solo flight in a glider Picture: TONY CLARKELucy Clarke, 16, recently yook her first solo flight in a glider Picture: TONY CLARKE

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"The longest I have been up for is around two hours."

Lucy takes to the skies at Wattisham Picture: TONY CLARKELucy takes to the skies at Wattisham Picture: TONY CLARKE

Lucy, who starts at Thurston Sixth Form in September, said she is looking for a career in aviation in the future and wants to be a pilot in the RAF or to fly commercially.

After picking up the flying bug from her father Tony, who is an air traffic controller based at Wattisham, Lucy started accompanied gliding in April last year.

Lucy Clarke, 16, glides through the skies over Wattisham Picture: TONY CLARKELucy Clarke, 16, glides through the skies over Wattisham Picture: TONY CLARKE

Since then, she has grown in confidence and was delighted when her instructor Eric Hibbard at the Wattisham-based Army Gliding Club (Anglia) said she could go up alone.

Lucy took her first solo flight in her stride.

Lucy Clarke, 16, started gliding 18 months ago and has now taken her first solo flight Picture: TONY CLARKELucy Clarke, 16, started gliding 18 months ago and has now taken her first solo flight Picture: TONY CLARKE

She said: "For me it doesn't feel all that different because I had done all the training I needed.
"My instructor trusted me so I can trust myself."

Lucy recently took a trip to the Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire and ended up meeting celebrity astronaut Major Tim Peake, who was amazed at Lucy's achievement.

She said: "He congratulated me, said well done and told me that every pilot knows how big a deal it is to go solo."

A spokesman for the British Gliding Association said: "I would like to congratulate Lucy on her achievement, and hope that this is the start of a very long and successful gliding career for her.

"As I'm sure she will soon find out, going solo is just the beginning.

"I would encourage those interested in aviation, especially young people, from any background to go along to their local gliding club and try the sport."

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