A FORMER Castell Alun pupil has been able to hit the heights in his career thanks to a gliding club.
Andy Holmes, 30, learned to fly for Midland Gliding Club in the Long Mynd, west of Church Stretton, Shropshire.
Now he is a senior first officer for British Airways, living in Churtsey, Surrey, and regularly pilots 747 jumbo jets on long-haul flights across the world.
Andy is full of praise for gliding and the club, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
He said: “Gliding requires the same high level of airmanship and aircraft handling skills needed for power flying.
“It is a really excellent way for anyone to start flying, whether as a sport or for a living.
“The Long Mynd is a beautiful location to fly from, with three different types of gliding paths in the surrounding area.
“The people there are also very friendly.”
Andy, from Penyffordd, learned to fly with his father Nigel, who is still an active member of the club and lives in Ffordd Derwyn, in the village.
Andy completed his first solo glide flight in the Long Mynd on his 16th birthday.
He was later awarded a Royal Aero Club award for his achievements at the Midland Gliding Club.
While at Imperial College studying for a degree in physics, Andy was awarded an Air League Educational Trust scholarship funded by British Airways, and started his training as a pilot with the airline in 1999.
By the age of 22 he was flying a British Airways Airbus.
Andy is still a regular visitor to the Long Mynd.
After flying a jumbo jet from Japan to Heathrow on Saturday, he flew his glider from Lasham near Basingstoke to the Long Mynd on Sunday, where his father was also flying – a round-trip distance by air of 250 miles.
For more on Midland Gliding Club, visit www.longmynd.com or call 01588 650206.