The initiative of director Jon Copp has literally given this year’s Summer School at Marlborough College a remarkable flying start – with eight-hour courses in learning to fly.
He believes this is a unique event for any summer school, this year’s 39th Marlborough event, starting in July, also boosted by more foreign students flying in from America and Germany demanding places.
And to top that the Summer School, which last year was hit by the effects of the London Olympics bubble, will introduce no fewer than 150 new courses and tutors, as well as a chance to stay in en suite rooms in the revamped former Ivy House Hotel, now a student hostel.
“Yes, it’s a flying start to the year,” Mr Copp told Marlborough News Online. “There’s always the need for the eye-catching course. And that’s learning to fly. We can’t believe it’s already sold out because it is not cheap—costing just under £1,000.”
The reach for the sky flying lessons provide a local business link with GS Aviation, based at Clench Common, something Mr Copp wanted to help improve the local economy.
“The idea came from a conversation I had with Graham Slater, who runs GS Aviation,” he said. “It represents incredibly good value because we’ve discounted the course dramatically to make it accessible to people.”
“There are a total of 12 places for students and they sold out immediately. The courses are for all ages. We’ve got young teenagers through to people who have retired. So that is something we can develop in the future, to promote GS Aviation and ourselves.”
Students will have the opportunity to fly a small 70mph Cessna-type plane – it’s called a C42 — from Clench Common to another local airfield and back but will not be taught how to take off and land at this stage.
“It is an opportunity for people to experience what it is like flying and then see if they want to go further and train for a pilot’s licence,” explained Mr Copp. “That’s essentially it.”
“It’s hard to provide an introduction course where you are not seriously out of pocket. And this is the first we’ve ever heard of being offered by a Summer School.”
An increase in foreign students despite austerity hitting many countries is also welcome. They make up some 25 per cent of the 3,500 students who attend the Summer School and there were fears that there would be a fall off.
“But we still have this vast number of people coming from abroad,” added Mr Copp. “The American market has picked again, which is important, and so has Germany in particular, which is a real reflection of the economy.”
“Their numbers have doubled in two years whereas the French, the Italians and the Spanish are slightly down on past numbers.”
So too, at present, are numbers for those attending children’s courses, but they are expected to improve, as are students seeking out the new art, history and literature classes.
“Bookings are tight where families are concerned because of the effects of austerity,” he added. “But we’re booming with out adult bookings, particularly with the retired generation, whose finances are being slightly less squeezed.”
This year’s Summer School runs from July 14 to August 3. For full details see www.mcsummerschool.org.uk.