Members Achievements

At Alouette we are proud of our members, especially when they achieve a milestone in their flying. From a first solo, qualifying cross country to NPPL or PPL. On this page we list all of those member's achievements.

Stuart Taylor


Many congratulations to Stuart who passed his skill test recently.

In his own words;

“You are ready, you just need to believe you are ready.” John’s words to me when he gave me the nod to get my skill test booked. He was right, of course, but it did little to calm my nerves. After a fretful few days practicing stall recovery techniques in the garden, the day of the test dawned. It’s funny on those sort of days where one has been a bundle of nerves leading up to it, then the nerves turn into an adrenaline-fuelled focus that just sees you through.

I was in early to do all the pre-flight planning, A-check and to fuel the aircraft. It was actually my first time in BBJZ so I also spent quite a while getting used to the radios. Ray then arrived and talked me through the order of the day and off we went. I had remembered reading it is good form to treat the examiner like a passenger, which felt a little awkward offering to show a pilot with 21,000 hours how the seatbelts work!

Departing from Biggin and out over Sevenoaks we flew a navigation leg down to Rye, on to Clipgate before the inevitable diversion to Headcorn for some circuits, then off to Bewl Water for the general handling, stalls, practice forced landings and instrument flying etc. I must confess the nerves and tiredness caught up with me here but we made it through and back to Biggin where Ray said, “lets go in for a chat.” I had expected either a yes or no as soon as I shut the engine down but in we went and Ray broke the good news that I had passed, with some good constructive feedback.

All in all, the test was at once stressful and calming, terrifying and funny. It was a lovely day for it and it is a great relief to have passed. My sincere thanks go to all the crew at Alouette for their continued support, Ray for being a wonderful examiner, and of course to John, who is an excellent instructor.

So it is that I am now a qualified pilot ( I am still not used to that!!) and I finished the course with a rather pleasing 55 hours, 55 minutes."

Ryan Hargreaves

First Solo

Many congratulations to 16 year old (just!) Ryan Hargreaves, who completed his first solo flight at Headcorn today (21st June 2019) in Cessna 172 G-BRAK.

After his trial flight in May 2018 at just 14, he went on to do a five hour pack, before becoming a flying member and continuing his PPL flight training. He obtained his medical, and passed the first three written exams, and was in fact ready for solo earlier but had to wait until his 16th birthday before this became possible.

He flew an excellent single solo circuit in near perfect conditions after completing just 11 hours 25 minutes flying, all in our Cessna.

A great birthday present and a great accomplishment - Well done.

John Willis

Stuart Taylor

First Solo

Massive congratulations to student, Stuart Taylor, on making his first solo flight today (28th May 2019) in G-BRAK at Headcorn.

Having carried out a trial lesson in early December, Stuart decided to do a full PPL course with us at Alouette, and also to do it virtually full time. He started his course on 10th May and went solo in just 15:30 including his trial (which, considering all circuits involved flying to Headcorn and back - the equivalent of just 11 hours excluding positioning time, was an  excellent achievement!)

He is on target to compolete his PPL by August, which is his aim.

Very well done Stuart...

John Willis

Viktor Varchola


Congratulations to Viktor Varchola for completing his PPL recently. Viktor did his first trial lesson with Alouette on 7th April 2018, and finished his PPL course on 20th April 2019 after just 48:35 in G-BRAK. He passed his PPL Skills Test with Ray Watson on 13th May.

Viktor worked very hard and put in a great deal of effort through a period of some quite inclement weather causing several cancelled lessons.

Well done, and very well deserved.

John Willis

Viktor Varchola

Qualifying Cross Country

Congratulations to Viktor Varchola on completing his Qualifying Cross Country today in Cessna 172 G-BRAK. After only about three weather cancellations, Viktor became the first student to complete his QXC starting and finishing at Headcorn, as, since 1st April no solo student flights are permitted from Biggin Hill.

Well done!

John Willis
11th April 2019

Viktor Varchola

First solo


Congratulations to Viktor Varchola on completing his first solo at Headcorn on 22nd July 2018 in our Cessna 172 G-BRAK after just under 16 hours.

Viktor came to Alouette for a Trial Flight in April this year, and followed it up with a five hour pack, before joining the club as a full flying member in June.

Well done!

John Willis


Olga Jarvis

First solo


Congratulations to Olga Jarvis for completing her first solo on 27th June 2018.

Olga has worked very hard since moving over with me from her previous club when I joined Alouette. And now, taking full advantage of the wonderful summer weather, all that hard work has paid off. 

We are all very proud of you - well done. Now on to consolidate the solo time and work towards the full PPL while the weather is on our side..

Very well done
John Willis


Gordon Hill

First solo

Congratulations to Gordon Hill on completing his first solo flight in PA28 G-BUJO. Gordon's ambition was to do his first solo at the historic Biggin Hill Airport before it becomes too restrictive for solo student flying at the airport. His ambition was fulfilled today (4th July 2018) with a solo flight around the airport on a beautiful calm day (unusual recently!).

On behalf of all of us at Alouette - Well Done Gordon

Now we move on to consolidate the solo time and move on to the advanced flying and Navigation.

John Willis

Tom Knynenburg

First Solo


Today one of our very first "Five Hour pack" students, Tom Knynenburg, did his first solo in G-BRAK after completing just 10 hours 40 minutes formal flight training. Tom, whose 17th birthday was just a week ago on 22nd May, flew a faultless training flight around the Biggin Hill circuit (thanks to Biggin Air Traffic for their co-operation and assistance).

Congratulation Tom - now we move on to solo consolidation before moving on to the more advanced training and navigation



Josh Reeves


Congratulations to Josh Reeves who says in his own words;

 "I passed my skills test on December 5th with Ian Davidson in GBUJO.

Despite the dreary December weather and the unpredictable cloud base I managed to pass on my first attempt.

I received my licence on December 19th just in time for Christmas"


Ying Li


With the dubious honour of being the first on this new page, our congratulations to Ying Li who passed his Skill Test at Alouette on 6th May 2008. Ying did his cross country to Lydd and Earls Colne and, shortly afterwards with the weather obviously on his side (!), completed the PPL(A) Skill Test.

Richard Clancey


Many of you will know Richard, our club treasurer, and his sterling efforts to achieve his PPL. Well we are pleased to report that last Wednesday he qualified and we send our heartfelt congratulations to him. In his own words;

“I’m grateful to all the members and instructors who tolerated, inspired and encouraged me to keep focusing on the end goal – I expect it’s a relief for everybody (especially my wife Kim)

Looking forward to lots of recreational flying with friends and family and taking advantage of the opportunities that a PPL presents.”

Alasdair Ross


Many congratulations to Alasdair who passed his skills test on the 6th July 2015.

Robbie Garrett


Have you ever been frustrated at having flights cancelled?

Then speak to Robbie; he managed to take his exam on the tenth booking ! Yes Tenth !

How unlucky can you be with the weather?

Robbie has now succeeded in transferring his UK NPPL to an EASA PPL; having had to jump through many hoops set by the CAA at Gatwick.

Now he is set for his IR(R) and Night ratings.

Well done Robbie.


Frank Pannier

Instrument Rating (R)

Frank has gained his IR (R) after a few months of juggling to keep those instrument needles in the middle !

Well done Frank, we all know it is not easy.

A mixed 'course' of great achievements mixed with the frustration of battling cross winds and turbulence.

Now Frank has proved his ability to find and land at home safely by instruments only.


Joe Stickings


Its been quite a year for Joe, what with moving house, the birth of his baby daughter and then completing his QXC (after 12 cancelled attempts) in June.

But now he can proudly pronounce that he has that much coveted PPL licence having completed his skills test last Saturday 23rd August with examiner Ian Davidson.

So now its off to the CAA to turn that certificate into a real licence.

We look forward to flying with you Joe, well done.

Steve Aylward


So frustrating and so close!  The weather has put a lot of people off their training progress, but Steve remained patient and it paid off.

Trying to get a Qualifying Cross Country flight done was proving very frustrating.  Especially as, like so many others, the validity of his written tests was due to expire in a few days time!  

Then one morning (and it was a morning only) there was a break in the weather.  Frantic 'phone calls saw Steve venture on this long flight.  On his successful return to Biggin the weather closed in again.

Now for some revision and the skills test all within the next few days. Booked once - booked twice - eventually got to go.

I was not there on test day as I was on holiday but Steve will admit to being a little anxious - but he needn't have been.  Well done Steve.  Now the pressure is off you can enjoy your licence.


Adrian Smith


After a long period of bad luck due to our unpredictable weather, we are pleased to report that Adrian has now completed his skills test and is waiting for that all-important document to drop on the mat fresh from the CAA. 15 cancelled Qualifying Cross Country (QXC) must be a record!

In his own words;

It's been a long time coming! I first attempted my QXC in May 2012, where I ended up getting stranded at Manston watching the windsock at 70 degrees to the runway and wind picking up fast whilst I checked in to TG Aviation.

I was rescued by Alan Powell and Noel Baker, who were at Headcorn in JO at the time and had to fly back to Biggin and jump in Alan's car for the long drive to Manston - thanks Alan!! I flew back safely with Noel at my side. A long Summer, Autumn then Winter followed with around 15 cancelled QXC bookings. I thought I would never complete the course before my exams all ran out on 9th March 2013.

But, we had a small window in the weather this week so I cracked out the QXC on Saturday 2nd March (a very pleasurable trip to Lydd then along the coast to Goodwood before returning to Biggin), had a gruelling 6 hours of ground and air revision with Terry Gordon on Sunday 3rd March, a day of CAA paperwork on Monday, before taking my Skills Test with Roger Patterson from Kent and Surrey (a truly calming gent) on Tuesday 5th March! Phew - 3 days before my exams run out!!

Many thanks to all who helped make this all work for me; James, Terry, Roger and Don - a big thanks to you all. And a very big thanks to my instructor and friend Noel Baker; I have had a thoroughly enjoyable journey to achieving my PPL with him.

Sam Webster


Congratulations are in order for Sam who has just completed his Skills test and is now waiting for that licence to drop on the mat, what a great Christmas present!


In his own words;

"I started learning in February, with James. It was something I'd always wanted to do since being in Air Cadets at school, but never really found the time. So very glad I eventually managed it, flying after work, at weekends, and despite the awful weather this year and JO being out of action for a month. Took me 49 hours in the end, half and half in JO and AK. I should also really thank Don for his help, not least with all the new EASA forms and arranging the skills test with Ray Watson. Very much looking forward to using the licence as often as I can in the future"

Joe Stickings

First Solo

Joe completed his first solo last Saturday 18th August having satisfied his instructor, James Harvey, that he was ready for the challenge that many of us have faced.

In his own words;

"Taking to the skies for the first time on your own is an amazing feeling, and I still have that buzz of excitement following my solo. I can't help but smile every time I look in my log book and see 'Self' under the column for 'captain'." Well done Joe!

Russell Fergusson

First Solo

With the additional pressure of doing so during the Olympic restrictions, Russell completed his first solo last Thursday 9th August in our Cessna, Alpha Kilo, with instructor James Harvey.

Its a great feeling and, in his own words, he tells us that he's still smiling following his achievement!

Gerry Chalmers

IMC Rating

"No matter what decisions EASA and the CAA decide about our IMC rating; Gerry has one. Gerry passed the test today 6th June 2012 and now can show he has the life saving skills to fly in IMC. His training sometimes involved flights in some really dubious weather, yet his concentration always meant our safe return. Well done Gerry."


Merscidies Mamora

First Solo

Merscidies recently completed her first solo in our Cessna 172 G-BRAK. In her own words;

"I thank God for this achievement and that I am now part of the solo pilot family!"

Well done Merscidies!

Silet Torrente

First Solo

Silet recently completed his first solo, having had various delays due to pressure of work. He originally began flying in our old Tomahawk G-BMTO, which we no longer have, but did his solo in the PA28 G-BUJO.

Like most people at Alouette, Silet just loves flying!

Pete Thomson

PPL with Night and IMC ratings

Having gained his PPL with Alouette, then his night rating, Pete has now completed his IMC rating with Ian Davidson, taking the test on Tuesday 27th September with Roger Patterson.

Commenting on Ian's instruction Pete said "He is very good and pushes you to the limit. He certainly ironed out some of my bad habits!!".

Well done once again Pete, its nice to know you have that IMC when you are in the left hand seat (or the right for that matter!).

Jordan Forrest


Congratulations are due to Jordan who passed his skill test on the 10th of July 2011 with examiner Roger Patterson.

Jordan completed his first solo last autumn and went on to take the skill test with a total of just 50 hours under his belt.

Well done and welcome to the Alouette achievers page.

Stefan Szaniszlo

IMC and Night Ratings

Well done to Stefan for obtaining his IMC on Saturday 11th June 2011 when he passed the skill test with examiner Roger Patterson.

Stefan also added a night rating to his licence, having carried out the necessary training with resident instructor Ian Davidson.

Stefan completed his skills test with Alouette, and qualified as a PPL, on 24th April 2010 in just over 51 hours.

Stefan took his first lesson on 28th September 2008, went solo on 7th June 2009 and completed his Qualifying Cross Country on 31st January 2010. Unusually, during his training Stefan started on the Tomahawk, then flew Echo Alpha and finally Alpha Kilo so has actually flown all the club aircraft, including two we don't have any more!

Tom Wheeler


The latest person to pass his Skills test at Alouette and join the pilots at Alouette is Tom Wheeler so many congratulations are in order.

The following was written by his instructor, Bruno;

Tom is a very busy person ! Seen at week ends at the Air Scouts hall at Biggin helping youngsters understand some aspects of flight; then starting a new job; finding time to train and study for a PPL; then having to take a flight test !!!!

This all came together today, Saturday 16th April, and Tom passed his skills test ! Well done Tom ! Typically, having achieved a life long ambition, he simply went back to the Scout hall and continued to help others. (I was tempted to say "What a guy" but it sounded a bit over the top !)

Adrian Biesty

First Solo

Adrian did his first solo last Tuesday 8th March 2011.

Paul Cartwright


Paul completed his PPL Skills test with our CFI and examiner Don Beard on Wednesday 5th May 2010 having carried out his training with instructor Bruno Bruniges. Paul overcame the vagaries of working shifts, including night work to concentrate on the studies and the practical side of flying. He has also been seen at the Club updating paperwork, graphs, charts and making flight planning a bit easier for us mere mortals. Once Gatwick issues his licence you will no doubt be seeing him enjoying his new found freedom.

Suleyman Hassan ("Solly")


Solly worked hard through the summer and still found time to laugh and enjoy the flying.

Working nights was a little tiring to say the least and much sleep was lost due to waking up just to find the TAF wasn't quite right and flying was cancelled. Yet his enthusiasm has proved its worth and now Solly can relax a little and enjoy his new found freedom in the air. Well done.

Martin Rackauskas


Our congratulations to Martin Rackauskas who completed his skills test at Alouette on Monday 22nd June 2009.

Steve Aylward

First Solo

Congratulations to Steve Aylward who recently completed his first solo.

Eugeniu Namolovan


Well done to Eugeniu Namolovan having passed his skills test this June, 2009.

Eugeniu has set himself high targets in his flying career and has shown determination by working in this country to pay for his training. His family at home in Moldova must be very proud of him.

Like all students at Alouette his biggest problem during training was the British weather which as we know can be somewhat frustrating. Yet Eugeniu overcame this, as well as keeping shift work and travel commitments.

Well done Eugeniu!

Trial flights

We offer trial flights of one hour duration with a qualified instructor. The recipient will spend most of this time at the controls of the aircraft. The flight will be from our club house at Biggin Hill and will return to Biggin Hill.

More about trial flights

Alouette news

Want to find out what is going on at the club? You can view video diaries from Alouette pilots as well as details about social events, club grub nights and other important club information on our ‘latest news’ page.

View the latest news

How to find us

You can find the Alouette club house on Churchill Way, just off the A233. Although travelling by car is easier, you can access the club by bus. Bromley South and Orpington train stations are a 20 minute drive.

How to find Alouette

Video diary

Want to know what it is like to fly one of our aircraft? The video diary page shows some videos provided by our members in our Cessna 172 and Piper Warrior PA28 aircraft.

View the video diary