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Harrison Rhodes, Gliding Partnership Pupil and Aviator of the Future

    01 June 2017

I have been attending Sherfield for just over a decade and the Summer of 2017 sees me preparing to sit my A Levels before taking off for a career in the aviation industry.

Sherfield School is in the county of Hampshire which enjoys a rich history of aviation. The World War One fighter pilot hero, Captain J. Aidan Liddell, is commemorated with a blue plaque outside the entrance to our main building, Buckfield. Liddell lived there with his family from the late 1880s until 1915.  Awarded the Military Cross and Victoria Cross for bravery in action, he was a pioneering aviator with the Royal Flying Corps that later became the Royal Air Force.

During my education at Sherfield I have seen many partnerships sprout and blossom, such as the golf partnership at the Sherfield Oaks golf course, which has gained some outstanding golfers as part of the programme. The most important partnership addition for me was the Gliding Programme with Lasham Gliding Society.

Lasham Gliding Society was established in 1959 and is now one of the largest gliding clubs in the world. Over 220 gliders are based at the airfield. The airfield is in constant use throughout the year and regularly hosts national and regional gliding championships.

The Lasham airfield was built by Irish labourers and Italian prisoners of war during Wordl War Two and was completed in 1942. Several different types of aircraft were based at Lasham during World War Two. The RAF squadrons based at Lasham during the period 1942-44 included Spitfire, Hurricane and Typhoon.  One of the most famous operations was by 613 Squadron. On 14 April 1944 six Mosquitos led by Wing Commander Bateson bombed the Central Records Registry of the Gestapo in The Hague from a height of 50 feet. The accuracy was such that there were few civilian casualties nearby.

Back in 2013 I was in Year 10 and the school introduced the new Gliding Program, in partnership with Lasham Gliding Society.  I jumped at the opportunity to fly. Just before my first flight I was anxious but extremely excited all at the same time, like when you open a Christmas present uncertain whether it is a pair of socks or a new phone. I can’t remember much of the flight, but what I do remember is the state of euphoria after it. I just wanted more!

About two weeks later, on my third visit to Lasham Airfield there was an inbound Jet, a Boeing 737, landing smoothly on the main runway. As I watched this brilliant aircraft land from my glider I had an idea that has set me on this path today. I had chosen a career to do the thing I loved. I wanted to be a pilot.

Over the next few years I trained at Lasham to be better and better at flying, with full support from a Sherfield School Partnership Scholarship in the program. At school I was given at advice on the best choice of subjects for my career flight path.  I also visited flight schools and asked many of the Lasham members for career advice. All this to later sit in a captain’s seat on an international flight as the pilot in command.

There are other benefits of going to Lasham as one of my colleagues, Shaan Master, discovered. Lasham Airfield, accepts large aircraft due to the resident company, 2Excel which performs repairs and surveys on jets and helicopters. We were given the opportunity of a tour around the hangar and other repair bays. Shaan, who wants to be an engineer, found this fascinating, seeing the innerworkings of so many different types of aircraft. I got to see the potential ‘office’ of the skies, with so much high tech equipment: dials, diagrams, artificial horizons, and so many buttons. It gave me an insight into the world of engineering and how it allows for such brilliant vehicles to keep functioning.

I absolutely adore flying in any shape or form. Without my experience of gliding in Year 10 I may never have developed my ambition.  My aviation dream was born over three years ago.  Mr Bridges and I are keen to recruit future pilots for this Gliding Partnership Programme. Sherfield supports pupils with the right skills and ambition; after an assessment at Lasham Gliding, the pupils with the “right stuff” will receive a scholarship which pays towards future weekly gliding lessons. 

Harrison Rhodes

Year 13

Sherfield School

May 2017

 

 

 

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