Watch out when you see a light aircraft in the sky if you’re anywhere in north London or Hertfordshire.

The plane could be ‘piloted’ by schoolkids, believe it or not.

Youngsters took to the skies at Elstree Aerodrome after completing a seven-month programme that breaks down barriers for state secondary school pupils to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace.

The ‘Soaring to Success’ programme run by the Air League aviation and aerospace charity took off with 42 pupils under 17 who were given “air experience” sessions at the aerodrome near Borehamwood, with workshops to develop team-building before getting a half-day flying lesson in the air.

Students from Edmonton Academy, Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood and Birchwood High School in Bishop’s Stortford took part in the programme.

“The whole day has been brilliant,” Birchwood School’s careers teacher Judith Crimes said. “Students who had a narrow idea of aviation just being about the pilots have had their eyes opened to all the different roles, like engineering.

“The time people have given up for our pupils to show them the opportunities in aviation was just fantastic.”

The Air League’s careers programme is for pupils aged 13 to 17 in state schools to bridge the gap between education and industry, inspiring the next generation into careers in aviation and aerospace.

The charity’s chief executive Ian Morrison said: “This is the best way to inspire youngsters who might not have thought a career in aviation was possible. These students have developed over seven months with confidence and their ability to work constructively with one another.”

The Air League charity took off in 1909 and aims to make opportunities in aviation accessible, improving social mobility.

Sessions in the programme had representatives from organisations and companies like Boeing, the Civil Aviation Authority, Department for Transport and the Careers and Enterprise Company.

The programme plays a role to “enrich students with the knowledge” to pursue a career in aviation and aerospace, the UK Civil Aviation Authority acknowledges. 

The authority also has a ‘Reach for the Sky’ fund for students from diverse backgrounds to learn aviation skills, aiming to inspire the next generation “to lead the future of aviation and aerospace”.