WITHIN minutes of taking off from RAF College Cranwell in a two-seater stunt plane with regular Spitfire pilot Charlie Brown, teenager Jack Meeks took the controls and headed for home.
The 19-year-old Bourne student, who has been battling leukaemia for the past three years, was thrilled to be allowed to fly the plane for 15 minutes in total. But it was Charlie in control as they did a flypast over Bourne while Jack took photos and texted his family below.
As the plane flew over his home in Peregrine Place relatives were able to wave before the aircraft swooped on for a trip over Grimsthorpe Park and on to Melton Mowbray before turning and heading back to its base.
Jack was a guest of The Willow Foundation which provides spectacular days out for seriously ill young adults. He was one of nine who were given a tour of the base and a light lunch before a choice of flying activities was followed by a formal dinner. He and his friend Ollie Edwards got to chat to the foundation’s founder, former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, to RAF pilots and officials and to others enjoying the day out.
“It was an amazing day, really fantastic, especially the flight,” said Jack.
“The take-off and landing were really bumpy, it wasn’t quite what I expected and it made me wonder whether I should have eaten so much of the lunch they gave us. But I was fine. I was surprised it took only six minutes to get to Bourne. We flew for about 45 minutes in all.”
Jack was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2009 after losing 3st in weight and having to drop out of college. He has also endured appendicitis, numerous blood clots and constant infections. But after several bouts of chemotherapy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge he is now feeling much better and has a place at New College Stamford which he hopes to take up after his treatment ends in December.