Air BP has awarded the third annual Sterling Pilot Scholarship to Robert Norris, a 17-year-old Hertfordshire student.

Valued at around £10,000, the scholarship aims to assist aspiring UK pilots with little or no experience of flying to achieve a Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) and is organised by Air BP in conjunction with the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, formerly known as The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN).

Through the scholarship, Robert wants to work towards fulfilling his dream of flying a Boeing 777 as a commercial airline pilot. He gained his first flying experience at RAF Wittering aged 15 as a member of the Air Cadets. He has since tried gliding as well as pursuing his interest in aviation by often visiting the RAF Museum, London.

Robert has already logged his first hours at Cambridge Aero Club, which is near the sixth form college where he is studying for his A levels. He then plans to continue his education and complete a degree in aeronautical engineering.

On his selection as this year’s Air BP Sterling Pilot Scholar, Robert said, “Flying lessons are expensive and certainly out of my reach at this stage so I am incredibly grateful to Air BP. The Sterling Pilot Scholarship is a really good thing; it is an opportunity for young people who are considering training to be a pilot but whose choices have been restricted by the lack of access to student loans. Having a degree is also important, both during and beyond a flying career. With an aeronautical engineering degree, I will understand how aircraft are designed and be in a stronger position to resolve any challenges I might face as a pilot.”

Paul Westerman, Air BP’s UK and France General Aviation Director, commented, “We congratulate Robert on becoming our third Air BP Sterling Pilot Scholar. Air BP is committed to supporting young aspiring pilots to build a career in aviation and in so doing contribute to the supply of high calibre pilots to the wider aviation community. Air BP’s Sterling Pilot Scholarship is a demonstration of BP’s goal of inspiring young people to gain a better understanding of the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education for their futures and for the wider aviation industry."

Alex May, the first Sterling Pilot Scholarship awardee, is now in his second year studying for a BSc in Professional Aviation Pilot Practice and working through ATPL (Air Transport Pilot’s Licence) exams while continuing to build his PPL hours in preparation for his CPL (Commercial Pilot’s Licence), MEP (Multi-engine Piston Rating) and IR (Instrument Rating). The second awardee, Zöe Burnett, is currently training with Flybe in Jerez, Spain to become a certified pilot.