IT STARTED out as a 30-minute flying gift voucher and three years on has led to high-flying Karen Simpson being awarded her wings reports, NEIL HENDERSON.
She was hooked the moment she first headed down the Fife Airfield runway in Glenrothes and has had her head in the clouds ever since.
It’s all a far cry from the day job as a hospital pharmacist, and there’s no stopping the Edinburgh-based Karen as she now hopes to go on to gain her Commercial Pilots Licence.
“I’ve harboured a desire to fly from an early age” she told the Gazette.
“But you never really think you’ll do anything about it, but then totally unexpected I received the present to come and take a lesson which included taking control of actually flying the plane, which was an incredible feeling, but very daunting too.
“Since then it’s safe to say that I’ve well and truly hooked, and after three years of tuition I can now officially pilot a plane.
“I certainly didn’t expect that when I first came here, but the Fife Airfield is a wonderful place, I love it and there are some friendly people involved.”
Karen has now become a respected regular at the airfield which was voted the best United Kingdom Airfield in 1998 by Flyer Magazine, incidentally with an airport terminal that boasts ‘The Tipsy Nipper’ licensed Restaurant, which holds a Scottish Tourist Board 3-Star rating.
And with around 140 affiliated members and more joining all the time, it seems flying has never been more popular in Fife.
Karen is also now a committee member and was instrumental in organising the recent ‘Women In The Air’ day which celebrated 100 years since Hilda Hewlett became the first female in the UK to be awarded her pilots licence on August 29, 1911.
“It was a wonderful day in August last year and the aim was to try and get as many women to take to the skies in the one day, in fact we were the third most successful small airfield in the UK on that day with over 30 female pilots taking off from Glenrothes in the one day, which is quite an achievement and one we are all proud of.”
To mark the occasion Karen and her fellow committee members have had the pilots signature board from that day framed and unveiled in the airport terminal.
And now, three years after first taking to the air, Karen has been awarded her wings, but that’s not the end of the story.
“It was three hard years work to achieve my pilots licence, but I’m not planning to stop there” said Karen.
“Next stop is to try and gain a Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) which will be another three or four years of study.
Keep your eyes peeled when you’re next in Glenrothes, that may just be Karen over head as she takes to the Fife skies.