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Young North Devon pilot scoops Virgin Galactic sponsorship deal

PUBLISHED: 09:34 07 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:39 07 July 2017

Young North Devon pilot Ellie Carter has been sponsored by Virgin Galactic. Picture: Andy Keeble

Young North Devon pilot Ellie Carter has been sponsored by Virgin Galactic. Picture: Andy Keeble

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Torrington teenager hopes to reach new heights with a little help from Sir Richard Branson’s commercial space flight company.

A Torrington schoolgirl, thought to be the UK’s youngest female glider pilot, is hoping to take her flying skills to a higher plane after bagging a sponsorship deal with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

In November, the Gazette reported how Ellie Carter, who has been learning to fly since she was nine years old, made her first solo glider flight on her 14th birthday.

At the time, the ambitious South Molton Community College pupil said she would like to become a high altitude pilot for the commercial space flight company.

The story was read by a Virgin Atlantic pilot, who shared the story with colleagues at Virgin Galactic in America, which has since offered to help fund Ellie’s bid to become a licensed power pilot.

Ellie Carter, from Torrington, is thought to be the UK's youngest female solo glider pilot after taking to the skies on her 14th birthday. Picture: Contributed Ellie Carter, from Torrington, is thought to be the UK's youngest female solo glider pilot after taking to the skies on her 14th birthday. Picture: Contributed

Dad Neil said: “The pilot spoke to someone in California and they initially sent a jacket and a T-shirt but then offered to sponsor her.

“Ellie now has 30 solo flights under her belt but is a competent power pilot and is working towards her licence, which she won’t be able to hold until she’s 16.

“The Virgin Galactic sponsorship will help pay for her to do that.”

It is also hoped that Ellie, who will be flying a World War Two utility spotter plane at Yeovilton Air Day tomorrow (Saturday), will be the subject of a short documentary being filmed by an award-nominated Devon filmmaker.

Jake Cauty, 28, from Newton Abbot, shot a short campaign video with Ellie last month, after the teenager got in touch to ask if he’d be interested in making a film about her exploits.

He said: “Ellie is a natural in front of the camera; she’s very confident, very laid-back and knows what she’s doing and where she’s going.

“She’s not camera shy either, especially for someone so young.”

Jake, whose previous short film Panthers won praise at a number of international film festivals, has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to go into production.

If successful, he said he hoped to complete the project by mid-August.

“Frustratingly, the campaign is ‘all or nothing’ so the goal needs to be reached in order to go into production,” he said.

“Donations from as little as £2 can be made – the higher the donation, the higher the perk.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

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