An air cadet is flying high after being recognised as the best pilot from more than 40,000 in the air cadet organisation and won a scholarship to gain his private pilot licence.
James Nealings, 19, from West Moor, received the John Cunningham Bust in front of dignitaries at the presentation held at the old RAF Second World War Fighter Command Headquarters at Bentley Priory.
The bust is awarded annually to the cadet who is considered to be the best all-round individual pilot with their leadership skills, academic performance, air-mindedness, inter-personal qualities as well as flying ability being assessed.
James, who joined Longbenton Squadron in 2008, has worked his way through the aviation activities and competed his gliding and advanced glider scholarship training.
James said: “It was incredible just to get my flying wings.
“I was really proud of getting to the top four and never intended to get this far; I just had the aim of flying to my best and gaining my scholarship.
“To have won hasn’t really sunk-in.
“I sincerely thank everyone who has helped and supported me over the years.”
He added: “Joining Longbenton Squadron is the best decision I’ve made. I love flying and will hopefully make a career out of it, but it’s also helped me in lots of other ways.”
Longbenton Squadron Commanding Officer, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson said: “To say we are proud of James is an understatement.
“He has worked hard over the years to enjoy doing something that he loves to do. Piloting an aircraft is never easy, and to do it at such a young age shows exceptional aptitude, maturity and gumption.
“James is an excellent role model to others and we all wish him continued success.”