A NEW pilot from Basingstoke has earned her wings by completing a solo flight in the air at 16.

Despite not having driven a car yet, Eloeyse Cripps, from Buckskin, took to the air by herself in an Ikarus aircraft on January 10.

This makes the teenager the youngest person to fly solo at Popham Airfield.

More impressively, she trained for just over 10 hours, when the normal pilot tends to have to train for 20 to 25 hours before flying solo.

Sponsored by local company, Eloeyse is completing a scholarship to learn to fly and hopefully become a pilot.

Speaking to The Gazette, Eloyese said: “I was really excited, but nervous at the same time, it’s a very different experience to anything else.

“It’s the best experience I can think of.”

The teenager got into flying via a birthday gift from her mother, who works near to Popham Airfield.

The gift for her 15th birthday was to go up in the air at Popham, just for a flight, and from there, she caught the flying bug.

Eloyese added: “I actually flew over my mum’s work while on the flight, and I looked down to see her workplace.

“After I had landed and found out that I had got my wings, I called her to tell her. She was so surprised and proud - it was great.”

The Basingstoke College of Technology student has passed the first step to getting a full licence and hopes to teach other people to fly in the future.

The automotive student said: “It really is the best feeling, flying in the air like that.

“I’d say to anyone to go for it, and don’t let anything get in the way of you achieving what you want.

“Even though I can’t drive and I’ve never even driven a car, it is very different to be able to pilot a plane than drive a car.

“I’m hoping to one day teach others, as I’ve been having a good experience here, and on a scholarship too.”

Director of AirBourne Aviation, the flight training school based at Popham Airfield, Matthew Myatt, said: “People can start learning to fly from 14-years-old and just about anyone can do it.

“We are very proud of Eloeyse, and there were definitely one or two tears shed when she landed.

“We’ve been building up her confidence and today she was ready to do it, and she has a talent for flying as she managed the route.

“It really is an amazing achievement, which is definitely not just the standard way of learning, it is fantastic.

“Congratulations also to Mac, who has been instrumental in her training and success today.

“The sky’s the limit, or not, depending on whether you are flying.”