WHILE many A level students would have spent their summer break celebrating or relaxing after the stress of exams, one county teenager was gearing up for his biggest challenge yet.

Sam Griffith has been learning to fly with Herefordshire Aero Club at Shobdon airfield, having secured a prestigious scholarship with Air Pilots.

The 18-year-old was one of around 500 people to apply for the scheme before being invited to London for an interview with just over 20 others. His passion for aviation impressed the judging panel and he was selected as one of eight to receive the scholarship.

Sam said: "They asked us to make a logbook of everything we had done in aviation, including things like Cadets, and they asked why I wanted to be a pilot and what my career plan might be regarding aviation.

"I went for the interview in April time. It was quite nerve-racking at the start but I thought it went quite well.

"They asked what my biggest regret was and I said it was not joining the cadets earlier as I joined the 124 Hereford squadron when I was 17. I got the email to say I had been successful in early May and I was over the moon. I couldn't believe it."

Training for the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) began the week after Sam's exams finished and his first solo flight happened at the end of the second week.

"It was good fun, I enjoyed it a lot and tried not to look at the other [empty] seat," he said.

Since then, he has been practising for a test which will include doing phased landings in case of engine failure or stalls and different types of landing in wind and other conditions.

"I should be taking the test over the next few weeks so I am a bit nervous about that. After that, I'll be able to fly on my own and take out passengers. I cannot wait to take friends and family."

Sam said he hopes to join the RAF next year and added: "It's been amazing. In terms of my career path now it's changed a lot and I hope that when I go to interviews it will really help with that as well."