Teen takes to skies over Murray Bridge


Strathalbyn teenager James Kissell is not your average 15-year-old.

For his 15th birthday, James flew a plane solo for the first time, and on the weekend he flew with his first passenger - his father, Daniel - a great feat considering he can not legally drive a car as yet.

James spent about an hour in the air early on Saturday, flying near the Pallamana Aerodrome.

"I was kind of nervous - I wasn't sure how Dad would take it, last time he was in a plane he was a bit sick," he said.

"I mainly stayed around the airport, within 10 miles; I was doing circuits around it."

James started flying when he was 14 - the youngest age for anyone to take the controls of a plane - and several weeks ago he gained his recreational pilot certificate and earned a passenger endorsement.

He is currently restricted to flying a single-engine aircraft weighing under 600 kilograms.

"I'm allowed to fly solo, I'm allowed within 25 nautical miles of the aerodrome, and I'm allowed to carry one passenger," James said.

Next on the list to learn is navigation, which he can do through a scholarship from Air Services Australia, which is given to six young pilots nationally.

"I've got to be able to plan a route from one airport to another, or even three airports," he said.

James said he had wanted to be a pilot since he saw his first plane, and he enjoyed being able to make it do what he wanted.

"I'm hoping to join the Royal Flying Doctor, I really like the prospect of helping people, and flying in rural areas and helping people when they're needing to be helped," he said.

James' father Daniel said part of his son's flying talent came from lessons at the Murray Bridge Light Aircraft Flying School at Pallamana.

"He's a very good pilot; it's partly him, but Ian McDonald, who he's been dealing with for his instructing, is one of the best instructors I've dealt with," he said.

- Details: To view footage of James' first solo flight visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUtZ-U0JMf8.

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