Youngest pilot


WHILE most teens are nervously thinking about getting their learner and provisional driver licences, Merici College’s Jade Esler spent her 16th birthday getting her recreational pilot’s licence, saying flying is in her blood. Describing the experience of flying solo as the youngest pilot in Australia recently, Miss Esler said she had never been so nervous.

“At 8.30am that morning I jumped in the plane with my instructor for a final check.

“We did three circuits with the eyes of four Sunrise (Channel 7) television cameras watching me before I taxied in to let the people on the cameras jump out.

“As soon as I applied full power for take-off, all of my nerves disappeared and I settled into the natural routine of circuit flying and had a feeling of wonder an accomplishment.”

The next morning she appeared on Channel 7’s Sunrise Morning Show with her father Benjamin.

The thrilling experience of her only whetted the appetite for the Merici student who aims to continue her aviation training in the next few years.

“My plan now is to obtain my private pilot’s licence on my 17th birthday and my commercial pilot’s licence on my 18th birthday,” she said.

“I am also planning to fund my university studies by teaching people to fly.”

Flying has appealed to her from a very early age.

By the time she was seven, she practically knew what everything in the cockpit did.

“When I was five, my dad let me sit in the front of the plane and hold the controls, I loved it,” she said.

In addition to her father’s love for flying, both of Miss Esler’s grandfathers are also aviation enthusiasts, so it comes as no surprise to learn as to where the interest comes from.

Over the past few years she has used her other hobby and now small time business of cooking to help pay for her flying lessons.

“In August 2014, my mum (Belinda) saw a lady selling cupcakes at a market stall,” the Year 10 student said.

“I love cooking and baking, so she thought it might be a fun thing for me to try.”

She took up the initiative of baking immediately and after an initial setback, set up her cupcake business, ‘The Sugar Bite’.

“In December that year, my dad pointed out that I had enough money to do a few flying lessons and that he would be happy to take me to his old instructor in Cowra.

“I excitedly obliged and we went down to Fly Oz for my first lesson.”

She has now sold over 20,000 cupcakes, which has helped her to afford 30 hours of flying lessons.

“I still manage to keep myself organised and on top of my school work, maintaining my grades, while wrestling all of this madness,” she said.

Recently Miss Esler was one of four pilots to receive an Air Service sponsored Australian Women Pilots Association flight training scholarship valued at $8000.