SOARING above the traffic, the sky’s the limit for new pilot Richard Fenwick.
The high flier has stunned instructors by qualifying as a pilot after just two weeks of training.
The 33-year-old has earned his wings at the Northumbria Flying School, becoming the first trainee to fully qualify within such a short space of time.
Richard, originally of Broadway East, Gosforth, Newcastle, returned to his native North East for the tuition from Switzerland, where he now lives.
Before the tough training regime he had only flown an aircraft once in his life.
Now, with 45 hours of flying practice under his belt, he has been given his PPL(A) licence, which means he can pilot an aircraft with less than 19 seats anywhere in the world.
Richard, who works for Zurich Financial Services, said: “When I was a kid I always wanted to become an RAF pilot but I couldn’t because of my eyesight.
“In July last year I did a skydive in Switzerland and realised how great it would be to able to fly a plane and so I booked a trial lesson.
“The training was really intense but it’s amazing to qualify and I would recommend it to anyone. I can’t believe what I have achieved.”
Throughout the two-week training regime Richard, who has been staying with his parents in Gosforth, had to complete 45 hours’ fly-time with a four-seat low wing plane, seven ground exams and a radio practical test.
He added: “It was really hard work and I had to revise for a lot of the exams before I came over.
“We were flying pretty much five hours a day to fit everything in the time frame, which is unheard of. It’s been really hard work but my parents have supported me throughout.
“I couldn’t have done it without the staff at the flying school. They are a great team, they are really dedicated and are always there to answer any queries.”
Instructors at the flying school, based at Newcastle Airport, say they have never seen anything like Richard’s feat.
Owner Neil Clark said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for Richard and the school. I have been here more than 40 years and I’ve never heard of anyone doing it in this time before. It’s excellent and a great morale boost for the club.”
Instructor Alastair Bates, 36, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, in Northumberland, said Richard had been a model pupil and had coped really well with the tough training.
He added: “The fastest I have ever heard anyone to qualify is six months and it usually takes well over a year.
“Richard was very determined and he followed instructions really well. He clearly had a great flair for flying and this was a great help.
“This shows things like this can be achieved with an awful lot of hard work. If people are willing to put the effort in, then they can do it.”
Richard, who graduated from Northumbria University, plans to return to Switzerland in the next few days and he is hoping to show off his skills to the rest of his family.
He said: “It will take about a month to get my licence through. After that I’m hoping to do a few leisure flights around Switzerland and then come back to the North East to take my parents up in the plane.”