An 18-year-old has become the UK’s youngest qualified commercial pilot after his mum sold their family home to fund his dream.
Seth Van Beek, who attended Christian Brothers College in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, left the southern African country after his GCSEs to pursue his dream, attending Egnatia Aviation Training College in Greece when he was 17.
Seth received his licence to fly passenger airlines after completing the 18 month intensive course that cost £85,000.
After 150 hours in the air, he passed with flying colours – and he credits it all to his mum Frances, 42, who downsized her three-bedroom Milton Keynes home for a flat to pay for his course.
The teenager, who was top of his class, said he wanted to succeed to make his mum proud.
"People have to chase their dreams, and I’ve been so lucky, being able to make my dream, my career because of my mum."
"None of this would have been possible without her – I love her to pieces!"
Frances, who is originally from Zimbabwe, said that when she starts to think about everything, she gets so overwhelmed.
The teen first dreamt of becoming a pilot when he was eight years old, after being inspired by his mum, who loved to travel.
He said: "We'd go on holidays to see the world."
Where it all started
Seth, who was one of 14 students,opted to learn in Greece so he could break the world record. He practised practical flying at Kavala International Airport every three months, taking to the skies five-times-a-week during these periods.
Graduating at the top of his class in September, Seth spent 828 hours studying, learning theory and averaged an exam score of 90.6%.
He received his licence from the European Aviation Safety Agency a month later at age 18, beating a record previously held by Luke Elsworth who passed aged 19.
Seth, who would love to work for British Airways, is now on the hunt for a job and says he ‘loves everything about flying’.
He said: "Flying has always been my dream. There was nothing else that I had ever wanted to do, and there is nothing I would contemplate doing.
"You don’t have a single epiphany where you realise that you want to be something or do something, it comes from experience."
Egnatia Aviation Training College has revealed that of their 1,500 students to graduate since 2006, Seth was the youngest, with their closest qualifying pilots three years his senior.
A letter of recommendation from instructor Captain Dionysios Kouri said: ‘Exemplary student would be the characterisation that best describes Seth Van Beek.
‘His pre-entry assessment results led us to believe that Seth not only had great potential but allowed us to have high expectations from him, too. And he certainly proved us right!"