A TEENAGER who broke his spine has won his battle for health by vowing to fulfil his dream of becoming a pilot.
James Moon suffered the agonising injury while playing football in December but has now celebrated a remarkable journey back to fitness by embarking on his first solo flight.
Before his injury, the 16-year-old from Ponteland, Northumberland, had enjoyed flying lessons for a year but feared the accident would put an end to his aviation ambitions.
Keen sportsman James was treated by spinal specialists who told him he would have to spend nearly three months lying completely still in bed while the delicate injury healed.
So serious was the break that James, who plays for Northumberland County Cricket Club and is a goalkeeper for Ponteland United, endured eight weeks with his chest in a plaster cast, followed by a further eight weeks in a metal brace.
When the brace was finally removed in April, the teenager, who lives in Darras Hall with his parents David, a banker, and Judy, a learning mentor, then faced months of intensive physiotherapy to re-build the muscle that had wasted away.
After making progress recovering from his spinal injury, he suffered a further setback when he broke his finger in July. A burst appendix then saw the trainee pilot admitted to hospital once again for emergency surgery.
But the desire to fly was strong enough to overcome any obstacle and the teenager once again took to the skies just a few weeks later. Now fully recovered, James – a pupil at Dame Allan’s School in Newcastle – has now embarked on his first solo flight in a Piper Warrior PA-28 plane.
“I’ve always loved flying,” he said. “It was awful having to lie still for so long and having the cast and the brace on but the thought of being a pilot helped me through.”
The teenager cruised the skies above Darras Hall and Dinnington for 15 minutes, followed by an hour of solo flying. Now James, who attends Northumbria Flying School, which is based at Newcastle Airport, has decided a career in aviation is the route he is destined to follow and plans to pursue his love of flying full-time.
He said: “I’ve got 28 hours of flying and I need another 17 to get my Private Pilot Licence. After that I’m aiming to get my Airline Pilot Licence.
“My family and friends fully support me. When I was stuck in bed, my friends visited every day and my mum took time off work to look after me. I haven’t been able to get any of them to come up in the plane with me yet though.”
Neil Clark, 65, owner of the Northumbria Flying School, said: “James is a lovely lad. He started flying but couldn’t get up because of his broken back. He’s done really well to get himself on track but he’s so accident-prone I joked that I shouldn’t let him fly.”