FLYING HIGH: Kyla Burgess, 15, celebrates her first solo flight with her family Christine, Nathan and Lincoln Burgess. John McCutcheon
FLYING HIGH: Kyla Burgess, 15, celebrates her first solo flight with her family Christine, Nathan and Lincoln Burgess. John McCutcheon john mccutcheon

Kyla, 15, takes off on her first solo circuit

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Kyla Burgess can't yet drive herself to flying school - but she can fly a plane solo.

The Year 11 student from Peregian Springs has been taking flying lessons since May last year and in December took to the air all by herself on her first solo circuit.

She pays the $200-300 per week required for the lessons entirely out of her own pocket from part-time after-school work.

She said the solo trip was a "blur".

"Me and my instructor went out for a quick circuit," she said.

"He hopped out and was like 'see ya!'.

"And then when he got out I was like 'okay, I got this'.

"I just taxied out, took off and then landed."

A video of Kyla's first solo, showing her skilfully executing the flight as well as mastering the technical communication with air traffic control, has notched up thousands of views and congratulations from fellow aviators online.

Kyla Burgess, 15 is close to getting her pilot's licence. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Kyla Burgess, 15 is close to getting her pilot's licence. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily john mccutcheon

Kyla's mum Christine said that while her daughter was full of confidence on solo day, it was a slightly different story for her and husband Nathan.

"I think it was more scary for us as parents watching her than it was for her," Christine said.

Kyla started learning to fly after her dad enrolled in flying lessons at the Sunshine Coast Aero Club in Marcoola.

The Sunshine Beach High student sometimes works every afternoon of the week at Dominos Pizza Coolum to afford the lessons, but says she doesn't mind spending all of her savings on flights.

Christine said she had no idea her daughter was interested in flying until she brought it up when they were talking about work experience at the start of Year 10.

"We're just completely proud. It's just overwhelmingly amazing. We can't believe she's doing it on her own, none of us forcing her to go up and do it," she said.

Sunshine Coast Aero Club chief flying instructor Doug Field said he "couldn't ask for anything more" from Kyla as a student.

"She's very energetic person," he said.

"She's got a job seven days a week part-time just to pay for her flying, for someone to be so disciplined with their life at that age is inspirational."

Kyla is working towards getting her recreational pilot's certificate, the first step toward getting a private and then commercial pilot's licence.

The Sunshine Coast Aero Club is holding a Women of Aviation week on March 7-13 and are offering free flights for first-time female flyers on March 12. Visit http://www.sunshinecoastaeroclub.com.au.



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