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Emily wins LAA and Pooley's Spring Solo Bursary

Emily Malone spring solo winner
Emily Malone, winner of the LAA/Pooleys Spring Solo Bursary

The winner of the Spring Solo Bursary announced by the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) and Pooleys is… Emily Malone from Tiptree in Essex.

Emily is six hours into training with Seawing Flying Club at Southend Southend and will receive £1,500 to assist in reaching her first solo.

She impressed the judges with her entry, which highlighted both her long standing ambition to fly and a genuine passion.

“The competition’s been a huge success, producing lots of interest and a final shortlist of sixty entrants,” said LAA chief executive Steve Slater.

“We’ve had people from all backgrounds and ages ranging from 14, to one who claimed he was quite a bit older than Pooley’s 65th birthday. Emily’s entry demonstrated a love of flying that lots of us share. We’re delighted that this will allow her to get to solo and likely beyond.”

Sebastian Pooley, managing director at Pooleys, who have also provided Emily with starter kit of pilot training materials by Pooleys worth £250, added, “On behalf of all the team at Pooleys, my congratulations to Emily.  It was a great entry and I hope the award will be a really useful boost towards her training and we look forward to hearing how Emily is getting on.”

Emily Malone’s winning entry

Ask me this 3 months ago, and I would have answered with something along the lines of freedom, the challenge, defying gravity. Flying is cool. Who wouldn’t want to fly?

Then, in December, I had a trial flight as a present for my 33rd birthday. Now my answer is: because something in me clicked that day, and I simply cannot imagine not flying again. As we walked to the aeroplane ready to start my first proper lesson, my instructor asked me if I was nervous. No, I replied, just excited. And I meant it.

Driving home afterwards I was singing at the top of my voice, unable to wipe the grin off my face. It was like finding a part of me that I’d never known was missing.

When I was at school I wanted to fly. At a careers fair I was devastated to learn that having asthma would rule me out of applying to fly in the armed forces. Self-funded lessons weren’t an option, so I picked a different career path, putting flying out of my mind. While the idea of ever becoming a pilot faded, I still loved anything to do with flying, my enthusiasm no doubt boring my RAF brother-in-law to tears.

Thinking of 15-year-old me wanting to be a pilot but writing off those dreams for 18 years, I realise how insanely lucky I am to have been given the nudge to reignite that flame. I don’t really believe in fate, but it seems the stars have aligned at just the right time to push me in a direction I was always supposed to go in. Maybe a career as a pilot is now a possibility.

That’s why I want to fly – because now I’ve found that part of me, I couldn’t bear to lose it again.

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