UP, UP AND AWAY: Brothers Alex, 22, and 15-year-old Mitchell Holden, of Billinudgel, both earned pilot licences by age 15.
UP, UP AND AWAY: Brothers Alex, 22, and 15-year-old Mitchell Holden, of Billinudgel, both earned pilot licences by age 15. Marc Stapleberg

Too young to drive, but 15-y-o Mitchell is licensed to fly

BILLINUDGEL brothers Alex and Mitchell Holden were flying planes before they could even apply for their learner driver licences.

Mitchell, 15, has been on his student licence and had his first solo flight late last month, while Alex, 22, has been training for his commercial pilot licence after first touching the clouds seven years ago.

The Northern Rivers Aero Club members, who've trained primarily under the keen supervision of senior instructors Todd Hunter and Martin Davie, hoped to work as commercial pilots in coming years.

"I just always wanted to fly," Alex explained.

"I went to an airstrip and asked around and here I am.

"First time up in the air, you feel pretty free and like you can go anywhere you like."

Mitchell, a Mullumbimby High School student, echoed his brother's sentiments, noting flying wasn't as hard as he'd expected.

However, he said it did take hours of training and a solid time commitment to feel comfortable flying solo.

"The first time I took off by myself I felt pretty alone. It's a weird feeling," he said.

"I want to be an airline pilot too, but I'd take up any job in flying. I really don't mind.

"It'd be great to be able to handle the bigger planes."

The brothers said their parents were "pretty proud" of their airborne accomplishments.

Bill Kiernan, the Lismore club's head of operations and chief flying officer, believes the brothers have what it takes to make fine aviators.

The 78-year-old started flying when he was 16 and said he often felt a sense of nostalgia watching the brothers take off from the tarmac.

"Flying an aeroplane isn't difficult. But to show the maturity to control it and be responsible, not a lot of youngsters show that," he said.

"You're not going to give someone $100,000 of aeroplane to satisfy egos.

"It's a step -by-step process. You see the attitude, work ethic and responsibility show through."

Mr Kiernan, like Mitchell and Alex, struggled to detail the strange sensation of taking to the air.

But all agreed it's an unforgettable experience.



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