Airline Academy Pilot Stories

Women In Aviation - Davina Battersby

  • Article by Davina Battersby, Integrated ATPL graduate
  • Published
  • Duration 5 minute read

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.

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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.

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What's next?

If you are feeling inspired by this article then we have several others that could be of interest to you. Excited for the next step? Feel free to look at our guides on ‘How to become a pilot’ as well as our FAQs.