Pretoria schoolgirl becomes SA’s youngest female pilot

2013-01-08 00:00

A PRETORIA teenager has become the youngest girl in SA to qualify as a light aircraft pilot.

Marcelle Nienaber (15), of Garsfontein Secondary School, flew a Cessna 172 for about 15 minutes above the Wonderboom airport in her first solo flight.

She said she was not a bit frightened. “I did not think that I was alone in the airplane.”

Marcelle started doing flight theory at Garsfontein Secondary School’s flight academy last year.

She started with flying lessons at the Professional Flight Centre in August. Her mom, Ellen Nienaber, yesterday said she shed tears of joy when her daughter took off.

“I was not worried … when she waved before she pulled off, I knew she was all right.”

She said they had been flying to visit Marcelle’s dad, who managed projects in other parts of the world, since Marcelle was three.

The youngest student pilot to have flown solo in South Africa is Pietermaritzburg’s Colin Campbell. The Grade 11 Maritzburg College pupil, who turns 16 in February, qualified for his pilot’s licence just two months after the Civil Aviation Regulations reduced the qualifying age for student pilots to fly solo from 16 to 15 years.

Colin started flying when he was about five years old and was taught by his father, Dave Campbell, the chief flying instructor at the Pietermaritzburg aero club.

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