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Craig's walking on air...but at just 17 he hasn't learned to drive on road yet!

Byline: Mike Blackburn

High-flying Stockton teenager Craig Fryer successfully took to the skies in a pounds 100,000 powered glider - and he can't even drive a car yet!

Craig is one of three Stockton Air Cadets celebrating after gaining awards.

Cadet Louise Gates became the first in her squadron to be chosen for and complete a paragliding course.

Meanwhile Craig, a 17-year-old corporal, and Sergeant Matt Coulson, 18, both flew solo on a weekend gliding course at RAF Topcliffe after being chosen for a gliding scholarship.

The achievement was even greater for Craig who completed his solo flight before he could legally drive a car.

The course, which would have cost too much for the cadets to complete as a civilian, was free with all equipment provided.

Over consecutive weekends the pair learned about the powered gliders, take-offs, landing and safety drills to gain their blue wings.

Matt and Craig were then given the opportunity to fly a complete circuit solo.

Bad weather meant the pair could only complete a "ghosted solo" with a qualified glider pilot alongside them - but they still gained their silver wings.

Craig, who hopes to be a commercial pilot, said: "I found it hard to taxi down the runway but I got the hang of it in the end. Overall it was a spectacular experience."

Matt, who is joining the RAF later this year, said: "It was great."

Louise, 16, who spent two weeks in Wales at the services paragliding centre, said: "I never dreamed I would get a chance to do something like this. It was a once in a lifetime experience."

In the past year more than 40 Stockton cadets have been gliding and three gained gliding scholarships. Stockton Air Cadets are currently recruiting adult staff over 21 and cadets aged between 13 1/2 and 18. For more information call 01642 645222.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 30, 2007
Words:310
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