Family dedication: An interview with microlight pilot Sue Oliver

Sue Nelson microlighter pilot at East Fortune Airfield.
Sue Oliver microlighter pilot at East Fortune Airfield.

This microlighter’s love of the skies has been influenced in varying ways by her father, and husband.

Standing next to her flexwing microlight in the misty fields of East Fortune, Sue Oliver reveals one of the motivations behind her love of flying.

“My husband Jim always wanted to fly and I was determined that he wasn’t going to do something that I couldn’t do,”  she says, laughing.

“After semi-retiring, we got our pension lump sum and started lessons at Strathaven Airfield. Jim learned in the minimum number of hours – he was a pilot waiting to happen – and I enjoyed the challenge.”

Switching to a flexwing microlight, Sue Oliver finished her training at East Fortune Airfield, the location of the National Museum of Flight.

“Ikarus C42s are super wee planes. The controls have the right amount of sensitivity to them and they’re very responsive,” she says.

Sue Oliver describes the Ikarus C42 microlight , as a "super wee plane"
Sue Oliver describes the Ikarus C42 microlight , as a “super wee plane”

“Unlike Jim, however, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable in them. I compare piloting them to wearing a pair of shoes that are too big for you. It didn’t sync with me like my flexwing has.”

She explains flying has always been close to her heart.

“My father wanted to fly but never got the opportunity. The first time I flew over my childhood home in the Lammermuir Hills was especially poignant. Whenever I fly that way, I feel like I’m doing it for him. I hope he’s looking down and approving.”

This enthusiasm for flying has permeated family life.

“Jim and I enjoy being able to share these experiences,” she says. “Every time my wee grandson sees a plane going overhead he thinks it’s granddad – he hasn’t twigged that granny also flies.”

Sue Oliver believes everyone should be able to follow their passion, regardless of age.

“I was 60 before I started flying properly, so age should never be an obstacle. I’m very lucky to be able to do it and as long as our health prevails we’ll be up there.”

The Second World War hangars at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield have undergone a £3.6 million restoration and refurbishment and were unveiled on Good Friday 25 March 2016. The hangars house an array of world-class military, leisure and commercial aircraft engagingly presented alongside interactives and film.  The stories of those who piloted, worked or flew in the aircraft are told through thought-provoking interviews and displays featuring uniforms, documents and photographs.

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