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High fliers… girl who reached for the skies and the boy with fire in his belly

Hitting the
heights: Ellie at the
controls of the
Cessna before her
first solo flight PICTURES: SWNS

A SCHOOLGIRL who paid for flying lessons out of her pocket money has become Britain’s youngest solo pilot aged 16.

Ellie Carter, who is too young to hold a driver’s licence, has been having lessons since she was invited to fly with US pilots at the California base of the U-2 spy plane aged nine.

The flight ‘kick-started’ her ambition. ‘I don’t really think about being on my own when I’m flying because there’s a lot to do when you’re up there,’ said Ellie, of Great Torrington, Devon.

Take off: Ellie Carter meets U-2 pilot in 2012

‘I have always been interested in physics and the power planes side of things. I just love flying basically.’

Ellie became Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot on her 14th birthday.

For her latest record she flew a Cessna 152 on a ten-minute flight from Dunkeswell airfield in Devon.

She planned it for her 16th birthday but was grounded for three days by a storm. ‘At the end of the day it’s more important to be safe than to risk something,’ she said.

Meanwhile, a real-life fireman Sam has shared a photo of the moment he knew he wanted to be a firefighter — when an engine visited his school.

Burning ambition: The look of determination says it all as Sam Rhodes, five, sits in a fire engine
Fireman Sam: Newly qualified 17 years later

Sam Rhodes was snapped grinning as he sat in the fire truck aged five. Now 22, he has replicated the image as a fully trained and qualified firefighter in Newton Abbot, Devon.

‘I’ve only just finished my training. I’ve wanted to be one since I was a young kid, it’s always been a goal of mine,’ he said.

Sam was in year one when his mum took him to the fete at Buckland Milber junior school. He said that when people dial 999 it is often the worst day of their life, and he wanted to be the one who arrived to help.

‘Since I turned 18 I was always pressuring the station and asking for jobs. Then one day there were a couple of vacancies coming up. It all just went from there really,’ he said.

‘Every day is different, I’m loving it. You see some things that aren’t the best but we prepare for it, and the team support you.’