Scientist gains pilot’s licence after just six months of training

Emma Whelan who has gained a pilot's licence.
Emma Whelan who has gained a pilot's licence.
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A flying chemist is taking to the skies - after gaining her pilot’s licence following just six months of training.

Emma Whelan, who is no stranger to passing tests with flying colours, works as a quality control scientist at chemical research and development company High Force Research having graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Biomedical Science.

A recent convert to the thrill of flying, Emma has been awarded her Private Pilot’s License (PPL) after just six months training with pilot training and testing specialists PTT Aviation.

In 2011, Emma, from Seaham, joined the University Air Squadron where she had her first taste for flying.

She immediately caught the flying bug but was unable to undertake flying lessons at the time.

However, in July last year Emma re-started her training with PTT Aviation Newcastle and has now completed her Private Pilot’s License.

She is now qualified to pilot aircraft privately and with non-commercial passengers.

Emma, 24, explained: “Before I re-started my flight training with PTT I hadn’t flown since university – I’d had three years without flying.

“But it had always been in the back of my mind as something I would like to complete.

“I have a hectic career working as a quality control scientist at High Force Research – and I had just bought a house to renovate – but I struggled to give up the desire to fly.

“I didn’t have the time or the money to do both the renovation and the flight training so I chose to focus my attention on the flying first – I now have a half-renovated house!”

Whilst completing her training at PTT Aviation Newcastle, Emma woke at 4am most days so she could fit in her flying hours before starting her working day in the lab.

She added: “I was worried I may have forgotten the basics but it all came flooding back once I was in the air – you don’t forget.

“My first solo experiences were a little nerve-wracking but very exciting,

“I flew around PTT Aviation’s three schools from Newcastle to Leeds to Durham Tees and back to Newcastle.

“The route involved crossing military airfields which I’d only done once before so I ensured I stayed clear – I didn’t want to be shot down!”

Craig McLeod, managing director of PTT, said: “Emma’s a great flyer, and fitting her flight training in around a career as a scientist has impressed us all.

“Emma’s story just goes to show you don’t have to have all the time and money in the world to learn how to fly, you just need the determination.”