LACHLAN McArthur’s pilot dream has taken flight after being awarded the Chris Middlebrook Flying Scholarship.
The 19-year-old apprentice diesel mechanic from Emerald Hill was chosen from a range of applicants for the 12-month scholarship, valued at $10,000.
Sponsored by Middlebrook Air Operations, the scholarship was established in 2012 by Peter and Judy Middlebrook in memory of their son, Chris, a keen young pilot, who lost his life in a tragic car accident.
Lachlan is the third recipient of the scholarship, following Zac Crowhurst (2012) and Kayla Smith (2013).
Lachlan gained his wings back in January and had already completed 11 hours of flying lessons before the opportunity to apply for the annual scholarship came around.
Judy Middlebrook said the scholarship saw more applications this year than ever before.
“The applications came from far and wide and it was a difficult decision,” Judy said.
“We are very pleased with the recipient – I think he has really found the love of flying.
“The fact that he went to the effort to start learning to fly before the scholarship came up shows his commitment.”
Lachlan hasn’t thought about whether he will pursue flying as a career but is keen to secure his private pilot’s licence.
“That will be the first step and I’m really looking forward to being able to fly solo and travelling around,” Lachlan said.
“Flying is something I have always wanted to do and it is a fantastic opportunity thanks to the Middlebrooks.”
Peter Middlebrook said it is rewarding for the family to see young people having an interest in “taking to the skies” and showing their dedication.
“We just want to expose young people to flying,” Peter said.
“The first two scholarship recipients are looking to go into aviation careers, which is very satisfying for us.”
Judy said due to drought conditions, the family had considered withdrawing from offering the scholarship this year.
“It’s tough times, but we decided to go ahead as it’s our special thing in memory of Chrisso and we are so glad we did,” Judy said.
“He would be pleased we have introduced young people to flying.”
Lachlan will undertake his training at the Gunnedah Aero Club.