AN aircraft-mad little girl has flown the equivalent of more than twice around the Earth on 50 flights – and she’s still only seven.
Faith Preston-Nel wants to be a pilot when she grows up and already has plenty of experience as a passenger, notching up 178,638km (111,000 miles) in the air.
The girl from Northampton first flew when she was four months old, visiting Orlando and recently reached her 50th flight with a return trip to Madeira.
Faith has accompanied her mum on long-distance flights to adventurous destinations such as Colombia. An internal flight in the same country was her shortest at just 111 miles while Manchester to Cape Town was the longest at almost 6,200 miles.
Already, the stamps in her passport have more in common with a seasoned diplomat than a primary schoolgirl.
Mum, Victoria Preston, said: “She thinks flying is great. I don’t like it when they come in to land, but she throws her arms up in the air like it’s a rollercoaster. I’m not a big fan of flying, but I think it’s important that she experiences it.”
Victoria, 40, a swimming teacher, added: “The hairiest landing we had was in Cyprus.
“We were coming in at Paphos, and I don’t know what happened but we were almost at the end of the runway and the pilot just slammed on the brakes. She wasn’t even phased by it at all, she still had her arms up in the air.”
Faith was booked on her first flight before she was born. Victoria said: “Her first flight was when she was four months old, we went to Florida for my mum’s 60th.
“I had to just put her down as ‘baby’ because I didn’t even know what she was going to be yet. I didn’t even know her name or anything.”
On her most recent flight, with Jet2, the crew discovered it was Faith’s 50th and invited her to the cockpit.
Victoria said: ““When she grows up she wants to a be a pilot. When she went into the cockpit that’s what she was saying to the pilots. She was also pushing all the buttons on the display, it was quite nerve-racking. I was hoping she wouldn’t press an eject button or anything like that.”
Victoria admitted friends and family called her ‘mad’ for taking a then five-year-old to Colombia, which is notorious for drug crime and political violence.
She said: “They get a lot of travellers over there but not a lot of children. She’s got very long blonde hair, so when we took her over there were people who were stroking her hair, and older women kept putting her on their lap.
“I did get told more than once that I was crazy. Colombia is a beautiful country and it was a fantastic experience for Faith, we never felt unsafe there.
“She likes to experience things. She even did a dance class in Columbia even though she can’t speak a word of Spanish. But she loved it, and they taught her how to do the samba.”
Victoria revealed: “Faith does like a window seat, but if my mum travels with us then they fight over it – and she usually loses. I like the window seat too, but I’ve been banished to the aisle.”