Many teenagers aim high with their career ambitions, but in Victoria Ferguson’s case it’s truer than most.

The 18-year-old is determined to become a commercial pilot, and had already flown solo at the age of 16, before she was even legally allowed to take car driving lessons.

Currently studying for her A-Levels this summer, she has already been to visit flying schools to map out a future career path as a pilot ferrying holidaymakers across continents.

“I have wanted to be a pilot from when I was really young. Every time we went on holiday I always looked forward to the fact that we were going on a plane. I always pretended I was the one flying it,” she said.

And five years ago her dreams of flying began to become reality after she was taken on a flight on a private plane in Cumbria, including flying over her own home in Durdar Road, Carlisle.

“When I was about 13 a friend of my dad, who had a private pilot’s licence, asked if I wanted to fly. I went up with him in his plane, and when I came home I said to my mam and dad that I wanted to take flying lessons. I went and fell in love with it,” she said.

“I was quite nervous at first because it was very small, but when you get up in the air you see everything from a pilot’s point of view. It was not just like sitting back as a passenger, you get to see what it is like to be a pilot.”

And she got her wish to take the controls of a plane from the age of 14, linking up with the Carlisle Flight Training School. At first, she flew with an instructor from Carlisle airport, until it was temporarily closed to training flights while it was redeveloped as the Carlisle Lake District Airport.

Her training flights moved to Kirkbride airfield, meaning she has already flown from two separate airfields.

“It is smooth in a commercial jet. You feel every lump and bump a lot more in a small plane on the runway,” said Victoria.

“You can do everything when you are under 16 with an instructor. When you are 16 is when you go up by yourself. It felt like a long time coming.

“It is quite scary when you first learn how to do it but exciting at the same time.

“There was one time we had to put ourselves in a spiral downfall. I had to know how to quickly get it out, and that was exciting.”

On her 16th birthday, Victoria got to fly solo for the first time – although she didn’t know it was going to happen that moment. She had been flying as normal with an instructor, before landing the plane, with dad Paul and mum Yvonne watching.

“My instructor said turn the plane around because I was going solo, and told me to do my radio calls, and give it a good landing because your parents are watching,” she said.

“I sat there for 30 seconds, I couldn’t believe it. I went solo, it felt so weird being by yourself but normal at the same time.”

She has now been flying solo for two years, with flights on her own consisting mostly of ‘circuits in the Robin HR 200 plane.

Circuits involve taking off at a speed of around 60 knotts, ascending to a height of 1,000 feet for circuits of the airfield, and then landing – and she admits there haveeen a couple of scary moments.

“There was one time I hit a bird, and I felt so bad. I was with my instructor, and we had to orbit in a circle until the runway was clear so we could land,” said Victoria.

And on another occasion, when Victoria was flying on her solo, the front wheel of her plane hit a pothole on takeoff, and as the plane lurched around she took the decision to continue with the take off.

“All the controls shook and my plane bounced off the ground towards the grass. My dad was in his car and I thought ‘I hope he didn’t see that’.

“My instructor said it was a good job I went up when I did, or I would have flipped the plane. My dad hadn’t seen it happen, but then the instructor went up to my dad he said ‘ well, she lived!’”

She flies about twice a month now – sometimes a session can be cancelled if the weather is bad – but needs to pass examinations to earn her pilot’s licence. Topics she must study include mapping, radio, emergencies, stalling in midair, glide approach.

Victoria is currently studying A-Level French, Geography and English Language at Caldew School. Geography is helping her career ambition with topics such as travel and tourism, and the study of rainfall.

And she is also preparing for the next step in here flying adventure, and has visited the Pilots Career Live event in London, where she was able to see the simulators, and the Atlantic Flight Training Academy in Cork. Courses there last around 16 months.

There is another school split between Oxford and Arizona, and one in Florida, although Victoria is keen to learn at Cork in Ireland, although even after that, she says that when a pilot joins an airline they then have to train in that airline’s own jets before taking commercial flights.

“I have been in the cockpit of a commercial plane twice. There was one time when we were sat on the tarmac for an hour in Glasgow because our plane was delayed,” she said.

“I have looked into the RAF and I have looked into the Navy, but it is definitely commercial flying that speaks the most to me.”

And when she went on her sister Rachel’s hen party to Tenerife, she got to sit in the pilot’s seat after her sister told the air hostess she wanted to be a pilot.

“It felt very exciting. I was talking to the co-pilot because he was sat next to me. He told me about the route he had taken to become a pilot,” she said.

“He explained everything in the cockpit to me. At first it was very overwhelming but when he went through it I could compare it to the small plane.”

Amazingly, Victoria was flying before she was permitted to drive a car, although she did pass her test first time at the age of 17,

“Flying definitely comes more naturally to me. I really enjoy driving but you are watching out for other people on the road. You don’t have that problem in the sky,” she said.

“When you are driving your car you use your steering wheel to move left or right but when you are in your plane you use your feet.”

Victoria, who hopes to own her own private plane one day, ‘just to have some fun on a Sunday’, spoke to her careers office at school recently about the ambition, and the issue of the high costs of training – Cork charges 81,000 Euros.

The careers office suggested she set up a page on the website GoFundMe – which she has done – in an attempt to raise some money. And she is hoping that there may be a chance of a bursary.

“Only five per cent of pilots are female so they are wanting to recruit more female pilots, so they are giving out bursaries. A few schools do it. I think it is viewed as a man’s job to be honest. You don’t see many girls in aviation unfortunately,” she said.