Another milestone in teen's flying career

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 06/03/2014
Shannon Surridge
MARION VAN DIJK / Fairfax NZ

Shannon Surridge can fly planes, but still can't drive a car alone.

Shannon Surridge
MARION VAN DIJK / Fairfax NZ
MAD ABOUT IT: Shannon Surridge, 18, has gained his commercial pilot's license.

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Shannon Surridge has just ticked off another important milestone on the path to his career as a pilot.

As planned a year ago, he gained his commercial pilot's licence on his 18th birthday last week and his ambition remains the same: "I just want to fly fulltime."

The student with Pacific Pilot Training [formerly Nelson Pilot Training] flew solo at 16 and got his private pilot's licence as soon as he turned 17 in February last year.

However, he has still not progressed beyond his learner driver's licence, meaning he still cannot drive alone.

Surridge finished year 13 at Nayland College last year and has retained his paper run to help fund the remainder of his flying training, which will include an instrument rating and multi-engine rating. He also works as a checkout supervisor at Countdown in Stoke.

He also works as the pilot training company's operations manager, to earn flying time.

"I'd like to be an airline pilot, but I've no rush to go there. I'd like to do a bit of instructing."

Surridge's parents have also helped with the costs of training, which started when he was 13. He told the Nelson Mail last year that he caught the flying bug "probably when he was a baby", but did not do anything serious about it until he was 12 or 13, when he started flying at the Nelson Aero Club when David Marriott was chief flying instructor.

Surridge moved to Nelson Pilot Training when Marriott went there as an instructor.

Marriott remembers Surridge as a keen youngster. "He is potty about flying. He went solo at 16, which is the youngest you can. He got his PPL at 17, which is also the youngest."

Eighteen is also the youngest anyone can gain a commercial pilot's licence.

Marriott said yesterday that Surridge was one of the best students he had trained.

"He's really focused and works so hard. He's paid for this mostly by himself, which is great because he has no student loan."

Surridge reckoned an important trait in being a pilot was the ability to be methodical.

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