Britain’s youngest-ever female pilot has challenged herself to break another record by flying a vintage fighter plane from World War One.

Aviator Ellie Carter, a student at the University of Southampton, first got her licence on her 17th birthday and has since clocked up thousands of air miles.

Now the 21-year-old has set her sights on becoming the first woman to pilot a century-old biplane first flown against enemy forces in 1915.

READ MORE: Record-breaking young pilot offered easyJet opportunity

But her remarkable career very nearly failed to take off when authorities mistakenly accused her of being a spy at the age of nine.

Ellie said: “I’ve always had a fascination with the U-2 spy plane since I was a young kid.

“I wrote to the US air force asking to see it up close – but the letter got intercepted by the Pentagon, and then my parents started getting calls from the CIA.”

After tracking her down, Ellie was invited to the US airbase at RAF Fairford, which houses the famous Cold War planes, to meet the pilots and see the spy craft.

“At 3am, my family and I were waiting on the tarmac at the airbase surrounded by big dogs and machine guns,” said Ellie, who commutes to Southampton from her home in Devon.

This launched her ambition to reach for the skies and one day fly for the U2 Dragon Ladies – a secret aerial reconnaissance squad in the US air force.

“I don’t come from a flying background or a wealthy family,” said Ellie, “I joined a gliding club as a teen and realised I was good at it.

“My first solo fight was in a glider at 14. Looking back now makes me laugh because I went to school the next day and wasn’t allowed to use a glue gun.”

But it’s not all smooth flying – Ellie has had her share of turbulence along the way.

“I’m a young girl in aviation so sometimes it’s hard to feel at home,” said the undergrad, who is studying for a degree in aeronautics and astronautics at Southampton.

“And I wouldn’t call myself a pioneer, there were women flying in the 1920s, but hopefully people see what I do and get inspired."

There have been some near misses along the way.

“I had engine failure a few years ago,” Ellie said, "the aircraft’s engine stopped mid-air and I went from 500 feet to the ground in less than 30 seconds.”

Being Britain’s youngest female pilot has propelled her into the limelight – and last year Ellie was approached by the BBC to film her next record attempt of flying the century-old warplane.

In doing so, she will become the first woman to pilot a refurbished Sopwith Strutter aircraft which helped the British to victory in the First World War.

Ellie added: “I’d be stupid if I said I’m not nervous; it’s very old but it’s a beautiful aircraft.

“It’s also something of a role reversal as it was built by women in 1915 and flown by male pilots, so it’s amazing to be the first woman to fly the Strutter.”

The record-breaking attempt will be aired on television later this year – but, to Ellie, it will just be another flight.

“There’s a famous saying that you’re born to fly,” she added, “and that’s how I feel every day – being in the sky is freeing and there is something very beautiful about it.”