FLYING HIGH - Sky’s the limit for boy who arrived as a refugee

SOLOMON Tesfaye is a teenager with his head literally in the clouds.

Right now he’s a long way from home in Melbourne, spending his days at Jaspers Brush air field learning to fly.

And he’s a world away from his original home of Ethiopia, which his family fled about 10 years ago.

Solomon caught the attention of members of the South Coast Recreational Flying Club (SCRFC) when footage from an ABC TV program was posted on an aviation community website.

The footage showed the 16-year-old with his home-made ultralight aircraft, which he had been building for almost two years in his parents’ garage.

With little money he had built it from scratch using any material he could.

Members of the club decided to get behind the boy and at the beginning of the school holidays flew him from Melbourne to Jaspers Brush.

He has spent the past two weeks flying most days in a Jabiru two seater loaned by local flying instructor Liz Daldy, and is well on his way to earning his solo recreational aviation licence.

SCRFC chief flying instructor Andrew Campbell has logged loads of hours with Solomon, who is now known affectionately by the club as Solo.

After seeing the video of Solomon and his plane, Mr Campbell contacted the boy’s mother in Melbourne and explained the club’s proposal to help him gain his licence

“His mother was almost crying, she was very happy,” he said.

After working his way through an intensive theory regime and many successful hours in the air, Solomon is rounding out his tight flight schedule perfecting his landings.

“Solo had a lot of knowledge before he came here which really reduces the time it takes to learn.

“He has done all his exams. He’s quite bright, it’s pretty rare how quickly he’s gone through the exams,” Mr Campbell said.

“We are going to train him up to solo stage which is about three quarters of the way to his full licence.

“Then he can fly back to Melbourne with me and hopefully someone down there will help him to finish his licence.”

Solomon said he could not thank the club members enough.

“If not for these people I would have had to wait until I finished school and joined the Air Force to learn to fly,” he said.

“These guys have been a really big help, I’ve got so much encouragement to get my licence done, I’m really eager.

“It’s also inspired me to get my plane finished when I get home,” he said.

“I’ve had a lot of fun flying, but the best part, the most fun was learning how to recover from a stall. It was pretty hectic,” he said.

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