I started my journey to the cockpit in November 2019. Like many other females, I have always liked the idea of being a pilot. I went to many airshows and a grew up in a family of aviation interested individuals. However, I struggled with the idea of entering a male dominated industry as a young female cadet.
With this said, I decided to follow an unconventional route after A-levels by embarking on a year of adventure – pushing myself out of my comfort zone and building the confidence and skills to enter the aviation industry.
In a rural community in Peru, with no internet or phone connection; I had completely forgotten about the outside world. Then all of a sudden I heard a plane, I instantly looked up to the sky, smiled and thought: “Wow, that’s what I want to do. That’s where I want to be”. And I was prepared to do anything it took to get myself into that position. That was the confirmation that I was looking for.
As soon as I was back home, I saw that L3Harris Airline Academy had created a female scholarship programme. With nothing to lose, I started the application process to become a pilot. I was sceptical about being accepted onto the programme and continued with my travels. Whilst in India, I received an email that I had been awarded the scholarship. Before I knew it, 19-year-old me had packed her life into a suitcase and moved to the other side of the world to New Zealand to commence my flight training, starting with ground school. I left with no expectations but had one big dream – becoming a commercial pilot.
There were definitely moments when I struggled and questioned my choice. However, my nerves were settled on my first day when I met other females embarking on this career path. We all instantly bonded and supported each other through the intense months of ground school and flight training.
Enrolling on a minimum hours course, we definitely had our work cut out. There is a large amount of content to learn in a short time frame. There were times when I lost motivation waiting for weather improvements so I could fly and times thinking I’d never understand it. But equally, I had even more moments that were positive, like passing my ATPL exams, passing my flight test and nailing a landing in challenging conditions, just to name a few.
As females, we constantly discuss our experiences and expectations of the industry and share similar views of: Will we be good enough? Will we fit in? Will we be seen as equal? The number of females is definitely increasing but there is still a lot of work to be done.
So what needs to be done to encourage females to become pilots? I think a lot of females don’t realise that being a pilot is an acceptable career choice for them. Historically, there has been a lack of female representation in the flight deck and what we see when we are younger influences the way we think. Sadly, it took 21 years for me to have a female pilot fly me on holiday and when I heard her voice over the intercom, I was ecstatic. Had I seen female pilots in the flight deck at an early age I would have had a lot more courage and no doubts to enter the industry.
To any females out there considering a career as a pilot here are a few things to remember:
- Don’t let anyone (man or woman) tell you that you don’t belong in the cockpit
- There are times when training is tough, but if you put in the work, you’ll be able to do it and it will be worth it
- Don’t give up and follow your dreams
Like the majority of females in the industry, I’m proud to represent what's currently a minority and hope to become a role model for many females across the globe.