Vorderman gets her pilot's licence

Andover Advertiser: Carol Vorderman has earned her pilot's licence. Carol Vorderman has earned her pilot's licence.

Carol Vorderman is one step closer to realising her dream of flying solo around the world - after winning her pilot's licence today.

The Loose Women presenter, 52, celebrated by hugging and kissing her boyfriend Graham Duff, a former Red Arrows pilot, after being told she had passed her test at Gloucestershire Airport, near Cheltenham.

Emerging from the single engine PA-28 Piper plane after a two-and-a-half-hour exam, Ms Vorderman told reporters: "I don't know yet."

As she walked onto the tarmac in front of her training school, flight examiner Bill Tollett told the former Countdown star: "I usually like to do these things quietly but you're a public personality."

Shaking her hand, Mr Tollett said: "Carol, congratulations..."

At which point Ms Vorderman screamed and jumped into the air, hugging Mr Tollett and shouted: "I'm a pilot. I did it."

Ms Vorderman will collect her private pilot's licence (PPL) next week and then she can officially fly with passengers.

Her first flight will be a trip to Cambridge to visit her daughter Katie, a student at Cambridge University, who is also learning to fly.

"It was fantastic. I was very nervous last night - I'm not normally nervous about anything," Ms Vorderman, who lives near Bristol, said.

"Bill's very nice and he said to me that I should treat him has just a passenger. He's got a very nice temperament and I like to talk things through."

Next year Ms Vorderman will attempt to fly solo around the world, a 29,000 mile journey following in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart's doomed 1936 mission.

"Now the real work starts. Next week I start doing the training on our aeroplane," she said.

"This is like baby beginner's stuff. This is like the first step... I'm a little toddler now.

"It's been a long, long dream. It must be nearly 40 years now - I've always wanted to do it.

"I've always loved maths and I was lucky because after my comprehensive I went to Cambridge.

"I thought that was the best chance I have got for someone wanting to train me as a pilot.

"The RAF wouldn't take women in the 1970s and in my last year at university British Airways closed down their training school.

"That was it, so I went to work in a frozen pea factory in Lowestoft and got onto Countdown. So finally, finally, finally all these years later, I've passed.

"I've had an occasional lesson here and there over the years but I've worked six or seven days a week for decades, it has never really come to pass."

She took the test after 65 hours' flying with instructor Debra Ford, at the Staverton Flying School.

Ms Ford said: "I'm really pleased that she's passed. She's worked really hard and was very much above standard.

"Carol is trying to promote the fact that there is a whole generation of women out there, who are perhaps just leaving school or going on to do their A-levels and why not think about doing some different than the more traditional roles, going into something like aviation or engineering.

"There's no reason why they can't do it, they just need people putting it in their minds they can do it."

Kathryn Williams, chief flying instructor and owner of the school, added: "She's definitely putting women on the map.

"Flying isn't something that women think they can do. They are much better at multi-tasking than men, so they are made for it really.

"It's a lot of fun being involved in aviation."

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