Newcastle pupils take to the skies after winning British Airways funded gliding scholarships

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School pupils went up, up and away after winning a scholarship to learn to fly gliders.

Four students from Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy were taken under the wing of British Airways Boeing 777 pilot Andrew Perkins for a two week course.

And after showing they had learnt all the essential skills needed to take to skies by themselves the quartet were whisked into the air at the Northumbria Gliding Club.

“Learning to fly was something I never thought I would have the chance to do,” said pupil Damon Dornan, who took the course with fellow students Dzikamai Wilson Mudamburi, Mohammed Alhadi, and Ibrahim Sayid.

“I am now taking off and landing on my own.

“Landing can be tricky but it’s really exciting to be flying.”


The teenagers were among scores of youngsters to apply to a scheme run by The Air League Trust and funded by British Airways, which aims to use flying “as an engagement tool to bring about self-development and realise the inner abilities of those it touches.”

Twenty students were initially shortlisted for the chance to have a go at gliding, with 10 then going through selection for three places on the two-week course.

Due to the amount of enthusiasm and interest shown, Northumbria Gliding Club then funded one further student who was recommended for the course.

“It is brilliant to see how enthusiastic and dedicated the students are towards their training,” course leader and BA senior first officer Andrew Perkins said.

“The skills learnt these past two weeks will not only set them up to be solo glider pilots, but facilitate their skill set to help enable them to realise their career ambitions.”

The scholaship scheme will return in October with North East pupils being encouraged to apply for a number of bursaries being offered by The Air League.

For more information visit the organisation’s website,