TAMWORTH teen Sam Harris is a young man with his feet planted firmly on the ground, but his career aims are definitely set a lot higher.
While the attention of most of his peers is focused on gaining their car licence, Sam’s got a licence to fly.
In fact he’d been able to fly a plane on his own long before being able to go solo behind the wheel of a car.
A Year 11 student at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, Sam said he’d wanted to be a pilot since the age of five, when a long-haul flight to England sparked his interest in aviation.
At the tender age of 11 he took his first flying lesson in Mudgee and he hasn’t wanted to do anything else since.
Sam and his family moved to Tamworth when he was 14, where he continued flying through the Tamworth Aero Club, and at 15 he took his first solo flight, gaining his recreational pilot’s licence shortly afterwards.
The 16-year-old is now working towards his private pilot’s licence with Macquarie Aviation and has a goal of earning his commercial licence by the time he’s 18.
Once he’s cleared that hurdle, he’s going to keep building up his hours – maybe even getting his instructor’s credentials – with the final goal of joining a commercial airline.
Sam said he loved the freedom of flying and the responsibility that came with it, including being responsible for the safety of his passengers.
Those passengers have included family and friends, who Sam admits were a bit nervous to begin with “but I don’t see why”, he laughed.
He said his parents had been very encouraging when it came to his flying ambitions, although mum Deb was a little anxious in the lead-up to his first solo effort.
“They think it’s a great thing to be aiming for, it keeps me busy and it’s a great career,” Sam said.
He hasn’t had any real close-calls yet, but says on one of his early solo flights his final approach to the runway had to be aborted because of another plane.
“Its radio had failed so I didn’t know it was there and had to go around again,” Sam said.
“But it was a good reminder that you always have to be on the lookout for other planes.”