A teenager from Ormskirk has become the youngest ever hot air balloon pilot.
Alex Court collected his Private Pilot Licence on his 17th birthday on June 17 from the Gatwick office of the Civil Aviation Authority, the earliest date he could legally obtain a licence.
Alex, who passed his solo flight test on 1 June 2014, has already accumulated 36 hours flying time in 16 different balloons - having conducted his first training flight at the age of 10.
His father, David Court, is himself a balloon instructor and head of training at the British Balloon and Airship Club, the UK’s only current balloon Approved Training Organisation.
Congratulating Alex on his achievement, Ian Chadwick, the CAA’s balloon specialist, said: “We would like to wish Alex well for the future. He has already amassed considerable flying experience at a young age, having flown abroad as well as in the UK.
“Alex sets an example to all young people interested in flying by showing that dedication and perseverance can pay off.”
As well as undertaking a supervised, solo flight of at least 30 minutes, Alex also had to undertake at least 16 hours of flight instruction, and carry out 10 inflations and 20 take-offs and landings as part of his training.
Alex’s dad David said: “I’m very proud of Alex, it’s an amazing achievement for someone so young and he’s done himself proud.
“He’s been into ballooning from a young age and we’ve spent many happy times together taking part in our shared hobby.
“I suppose it was inevitable that he would get into it with my background being what it is but when you’re up there in the sky, it’s an amazing feeling.
“Alex is also a part-time mechanic at Causeway Garage in Rufford but I think one day he would eventually like to go into instructing like me.
“His boss at the garage has been great and has even let Alex leave early to get some flying time in when the weather was right.”