A group of 20 pupils from Bristol Metropolitan Academy took turns at the controls of a light aircraft during a special day of flying lessons at Gloucestershire Airport on Thursday 11 July.

The Bristol Met pupils were being rewarded after successfully completing the Airbus Foundation’s Flying Challenge programme, a youth mentoring scheme that has seen the pupils attend 20 weekly sessions at Airbus’ site in Filton to gain insight into the aviation and aerospace industries.

 “It’s not every day that a 14 year old is able to fly plane. I think we’re extremely lucky and I am very happy with what we have just achieved.” Emira Ballesteros, 14, Bristol Metropolitan Academy

The students have had behind the scenes access to aviation design, test experts and facilities on the Filton site in Bristol during their time with the scheme. The students worked with Airbus mentors, supported by independent charity Ablaze Bristol, to develop their skills and ideas about their future careers.

Pippa Evans, Teacher of Design & Technology at Bristol Metropolitan Academy said: “I’m incredibly proud of the students and their achievements over the past year. It’s been a privilege to witness our students developing and maturing into professional young people, as well as seeing the improvement in their own confidence and self-esteem due to the programme. I’m confident that the belief they now have in themselves will motivate them to continue with and succeed in their education. We’re all so grateful to Airbus for allowing us this wonderful opportunity.”

Thursday’s big Flying Day finale, supported by leading aviation charity partner fly2help, saw pupils take to the skies in three light aircraft.

Airbus Community Engagement Officer, Hannah Hammond, said: “The Flying Challenge programme gives the students a unique and potentially life-changing opportunity to develop relevant skills and inspire them in their future endeavours by working with Airbus mentors. The Flying Challenge programme is the Airbus Foundation’s largest international youth mentoring scheme in which they complete a skills portfolio and achieve a nationally recognised qualification. Airbus in the UK is committed to projects involving schools in the region, with youth development and education being among the core strands of the company’s community-engagement agenda.”

An Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge graduation ceremony will take place at the school next week.

Ablaze coordinate the Airbus Flying Challenge at Filton.