Inside Out North West: Otto Dawes the 12-year-old would-be pilot

Otto Dawes is a typical 12-year-old in many ways except that in his spare time he uses his pocket money for flying lessons.

The would-be pilot, from the Wirral, became obsessed with flying from a young age and took his first lesson at the age of 11. His story is told on BBC Inside Out North West on Monday 21 February at 7.30pm.

Having mastered his flight simulator computer game Otto began to aim higher and for his 11th birthday was given his first lesson.

He says: “I first got interested in aeroplanes when I was six. I was pony trekking at the end of a runway at RAF Valley in Anglesey and I was watching a Hawk training and taking off and landing and doing these jumps. I sat there for 20 minutes gazing at them. It was awesome, I loved it and I’ve always wanted to be a pilot since.”

Otto is so determined to fly that he pays for half his lessons himself by doing jobs for neighbours. “The first time I went up I was very scared because it was my first time at the controls of a real aircraft. It was ‘Oh God, I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this’.”

The hours that Otto flies in a plane won’t count towards his licence (which he can get at the age of 17) until he’s 14. But it doesn’t put him off. Inside Out films him as he marks a milestone in his career – handling his first take off and landing.

And they follow him as he gets a unique opportunity to have a go in a £10m flight simulator which replicates the actions of a 300-seat Boeing 757 passenger jet at Woodford, Cheshire.

Mum Shari says: “I think he will continue this… What he really wants is to be an airline pilot and I can’t see anything stopping him, not least his maths homework!”

Inside Out can be seen on BBC One in the North West on Monday 21 February at 7.30pm.

Viewers outside the North West can view the programme on digital channel 978 or at bbc.co.uk/iplayer

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