A Linlithgow lad is now airborne after he was one of only 30 recruits this year to qualify as an RAF pilot.
Elliott Reeder (22) grew up in the royal burgh, and was a pupil at Linlithgow Primary and Linlithgow Academy, before signing up to the RAF in 2009.
As a youngster he was a member of the local Air Cadets and his passion for flying was evident from a young age. However the RAF training was more than he had bargained for with a strict regime over a number of varying size of aircraft.
But it didn’t put Elliott off and he persevered, which resulted in him receiving his wings at the end of March.
He said: “It is hard work, and a lot more than I ever expected but, when I left school, it seemed like a good idea at the time!
“You do eight months of officer training, and then you progress through the different aircraft types - you go from a twin jet aircraft and you move forward to a four engine monster that’s just smaller than a jumbo jet!
Elliott did training stints at Wyton near Cambridge, Lincolnshire and RAF Lossiemouth, before he graduated two months ago.
Since then he has been tasked with mastering the C17 Globemaster aircraft (pictured).
He added: “At the moment I am based at RAF Brize Norton and focussing on using this aircraft. I will be three years flying the C17 Globemaster, and literally going all over the globe.
“When we Googled the C17, we found out it’s worth £200 million, and it is enormous.
“It transports machines and people and, to give you an idea of scale, the Apache helicopter that Prince Harry flies - it can take three of them in the back.
“It’s so huge, we could get the rest of the RAF’s transport fleet in the back of this, or we could transport 130 people.”
Part of the job will be transporting machines and people out to war zones such as Afghanistan, where Elliott is heading next month.
Elliott added: “During my training I spent three months in Oklahoma in the USA, I’ve gone all over Europe and I’ll get to go to the Falklands at some point. We just get told where we’re going and that’s it. As jobs go, it’s definitely different.”
His family, who still live in Linlithgow Bridge, are very proud of what Elliott has acheived over the past four years and are delighted he is now a fully qualified pilot.
Elliott added: “Being one of so few to graduate this year shows how much of a challenge it was, but that made me even more determined to do well.
“The selection process is very stringent and has a lot to do with your attitude - it’s more than just academic.
“Whatever it is, I must have some of it!”