A TEENAGER who had set his sights on becoming a commercial pilot is having to rethink his plans after failing a crucial colour blindness test.
However, 16-year-old Ethan Sherry is looking on the results as a mere bump in his flight path and has plenty of flying ambitions still on the radar.
On June 28 last year, the Dungannon lad, then a pupil at St Patrick’s Academy in the town, became the youngest solo pilot in the UK when he flew a microlight on his 16th birthday.
This year – depending on coronavirus restrictions being lifted – he also hopes to mark his big day by passing his pilot’s licence.
However, because of the slight colour blindness, he will be restricted to daytime flights only and to carrying no more than four passengers.
Ethan only learned of the deficiencies in his eyesight last month, when he paid a visit to the optician for a regular check-up.
“They showed me circles of different coloured dots … and afterwards they told me I was slightly red, green colour blind,” he said.
Anxious to get a second opinion, he made an appointment with the specialist aeromedical centre at Heathrow, where a Colour Assessment and Diagnosis (CAD) test confirmed that his eyesight was ‘quite below average’ for red and green – the colours needed most for flying.
Ironically, for yellow and blue, his scores were above average.
“The funny thing is when I was with my dad at the airport, there was a plane on the runway and I was able to point out the red and green lights with no problem at all,” he said.
“And I have never had any problem with the lights on the control panel when I am flying either.
“I know there are pilots flying now with the same level of colour blindness as me, who got their licences before the CAD test became available. But I have accepted it and at least I can still fly.”
The teenager, who left school after his GCSEs and works from home for an online property company as well as running a photography business, admits the news initially came as a shock.
“Before the CAD test, I was frying my brain, but when I found out I was quite happy. It was a relief to know.
“There’s no point in saying ‘poor me’.
“There are plenty of other things I can do.”
Among the options he is considering is becoming a flying instructor and possibly setting up his own flying school one day.
He is also kept busy with his photography business, M&E Photography, which he runs with childhood friend Michael Devlin and which specialises in aerial shots using drones.
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