A magical moment it was for two budding young pilots Head Girl Libby and Deputy Head Boy Michael when they received a call from Astronaut Tim Peake in space and were granted entrance to a royal residence at St James Palace in London for an audience with The Duke of Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness congratulated the two young pilots after they received certificates of recognition by Andy Perkins, Assistant Pilot Recruitment Manager at British Airways and Brian Parcell, Head of Operations at British Airways Avionic Engineering.
Prince Philip said: “The Air League was founded in 1909 when aviation was in its infancy to recognise its potential for civil and ministry use. The Air League promotes an interest in aviation among young people through the offer of flying scholarships and bursaries; in supporting development of effective military aviation; in stimulating internationally competitive aircraft manufacturing and air transport industries and in encouraging general aviation in the country.”
Libby said: “The whole day was amazing, from visiting British Airways HQ in London to being granted Royal audience with HRH Prince Philip. However, one moment really sent shivers down our spines and is something we will never forget. Prince Philip told us that he was expecting an important phone call which may interrupt his speech. The call came through on the loudspeaker system and it was Tim Peake, European Space Agency astronaut and international space station crew member phoning us from the international space station to congratulate us on our achievement.”
Libby and Michael are soon to qualify as solo glider pilots after intensive training at the South Wales Glider Club Usk. The two pupils of Pen Y Dre High School are beneficiaries of the scholarship that Prince Philip was referring to. The scholarship programme is an innovative scholarship by British Airways in order to find the pilots of the future. It is run by the Air League. The intention of the programme is to enable a person to fly solo and enjoy the responsibility and achievement of a solo flight.
Pen Y Dre High School is the first school in Wales to take part in the Air League programme and in recognition to this, the school was awarded the Business in the Community Award for its work with Legal and General.
Assistant Headteacher at Pen Y Dre High School, Mr John Davies said: ” The whole day was a fantastic experience for the pupils and we are already identifying the next group of 15 pupils who are joining the Air League programme to train as pilots. Hopefully, some of our pupils will be offered full scholarships like Libby and Michael.”