Pilot, 14, becomes youngest person to earn RAF wings

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster

Meet the teenager from Southport who has become the youngest person in the history of the Royal Air Force to receive his wings.

At just 14 years old, Maksim Ferguson is no stranger to the skies.

In April 2019 he became the UK's youngest person to solo pilot a powered aircraft when he flew a four-seater aeroplane in Canada.

Now the young pilot has reached new heights, becoming the youngest ever RAF Air Cadet to receive his civilian wings - an accolade for promising young pilots who have hit a certain stage in their flying training.

Maksim received the award two years earlier than any other pilot in British history.

The accolade is usually reserved for pilots who are at least 16-years-old, which is the UK's legal age for flying solo in a powered aircraft.

But having taken to the skies solo in Ontario, Canada last year, Maksim was eligible for the honour two years early.

Earning his Civilian "C" Wings came as a complete surprise to Maksim who has been a member of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets for two years.

The 14-year-old received the honour from Wing Commander Eddie Challoner MBE at at 611 Squadron Air Cadet Headquarters in Formby, Liverpool.

A love of planes and flying is nothing new to Maksim.

Maksim said the award came as a surprise and that he was "completely taken aback" by the accolade: "The presentation was one of Wing Commander Challoner's last duties in the RAFAC before retiring and, as he was speaking, I thought how inspiring that he'd once been a 14-year-old cadet like me and had spent a lifetime with the Air Cadets and achieved so much.

"It was only when he started talking about a 14-year-old making history with his first solo flight that I realised that he was speaking about me.

"I was completely taken aback to be awarded my Wings.

"I'm so grateful for all the support and opportunities that the Air Cadets have given me and getting my Wings feels like a giant step forward in achieving my goals in aviation."

The 14-year-old was awarded his Civilian. Credit: SharpShot

The accolade has seen the RAF Air Cadets review its own rules for bestowing Civilian Wings on promising young pilots.

Presenting Maksim with his badge, Wing Commander Challoner said: "63 years ago, I too was a 14-year-old cadet standing here.

"I remember at aged 17 having to await my first solo flight and here we have someone who, aged just 14, has already achieved that amazing milestone.

"This 14-year-old is dynamic, focused and has come into aviation knowing exactly what he wants to do."

The accolade has seen the RAF Air Cadets review its own rules on age limits for the honour. Credit: SharpShot

In his record-breaking solo flight in Canada last year, Maksim flew a full circuit at a height of 1,000 feet (305m).

The 14-year-old went on to complete a further 2.5 hours of solo flight time, achieving his Canadian Student Pilot Permit.