Spitfire pilot’s Eastbourne grandson to take to the skies

Cadet Corporal Joe Stevens receives his Flying Scholarship from Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier at the RAF Association conference SUS-190406-100019001
Cadet Corporal Joe Stevens receives his Flying Scholarship from Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier at the RAF Association conference SUS-190406-100019001

A teenager from Eastbourne, whose grandfather was a Spitfire pilot in the Second World War, is one of 11 teenagers awarded flying lessons for their commitment to the work of a military charity.

Joe Stevens, an RAF air cadet with 88 (Battle) Squadron, is one of 11 teenagers awarded flying lessons for their commitment to the Royal Air Forces Association, which supports the RAF family.

Cadet Corporal Joe Stevens and his father Keith Stevens, with Joe's Flying Scholarship and a photograph of Keith's father, Spitfire pilot Cyril Steven SUS-190406-100528001

Cadet Corporal Joe Stevens and his father Keith Stevens, with Joe's Flying Scholarship and a photograph of Keith's father, Spitfire pilot Cyril Steven SUS-190406-100528001

He and his fellow cadets were presented with their scholarships at the RAF Association’s annual conference by the chief of the air staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier.

Joe wants to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Cyril Stevens and become an RAF pilot and hopes the 12-hour scholarship will help him achieve his dream.

Eighteen-year-old Joe said, “I’ve always been fascinated by flying ever since my parents took me to the Eastbourne Airshow when I was little.

“My granddad was taken prisoner during the war after his Spitfire was shot down in Holland, but I didn’t know that until after he passed away a few years ago. I joined the local cadets when I was 13 and it just clicked with me.

“Since then, they’ve been teaching me the basics of flying, and I’ve even had a couple of hours’ flight time through the cadets, so I already know my way around a cockpit.

“I found out I’d got the scholarship via email while I was on holiday in France with my family.

The flying lessons will take place over the summer at South Warwickshire Flying School. Depending on their rate of progress, the course could earn the flying scholars their light aircraft pilot licence.

Group captain Del Rowlands at the RAF Association said, “We’re delighted to be offering these dedicated young people the chance to learn to fly.”