Hi everyone! My name is Victoria, I am originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Originally, I was going to college to pursue an architecture degree, however I wasn’t happy. The thought of sitting in a chair for hours and hours wasn’t for me.
It was during this period, that I took a trip to New York City with a few friends and we went on a ‘doors open’ helicopter ride around Manhattan. During this ride, I remembered how much I loved being around airports since I was little, seeing planes taking off and landing, how much I looked up to pilots and thinking to myself: “Wow! They do such a hard job keeping everyone and the airplane safe. I really want to be like them once day!”
However, as a girl and immigrant that moved from a country like Brazil, I knew I would face some financial setbacks and was afraid of facing other challenges just for being a girl trying to become a pilot.
After an extensive search online, I found that the number of women and the diversity among the aviation community has really grown in the past years. This, among with the thought of: “If other people can do it, why can’t I do it?”, pushed me to start flight school.
I started my journey under the Professional Pilot Program at the L3Harris Flight Academy in Sanford, Florida back in April 2020. This journey started just as the global pandemic was starting as well, unfortunately. Seeing how the pandemic was affecting the aviation industry, I think it’s safe to say that it was a bit challenging to stay motivated. However, I remember thinking: “I’ve never been this happy pursuing a career and this is the profession that, even if we take money out of the equation, I would do it for free". Because to me nothing beats the joy of flying an airplane.
The most challenging license to get, for me was the Private Pilot License. Since it’s the first license you get, in the US, it’s a lot of information to take on board, especially if you don’t come from a background in aviation (like I didn’t). You have to learn about systems of the airplane, weather, aerodynamics, airspace, weight and balance, regulations and more and you have to go through that ‘pre-solo anxiety’ - which is flying an airplane all by yourself (without an Instructor) for the first time. This all can sound very overwhelming at first, but I guarantee you that if you study hard and once you do your first landing all by yourself, you will feel gratified.
Looking back now, I am very proud that I stuck with my dream and was able to have gone from zero hours in an airplane to becoming a Certified Flight Instructor - graduating the program in February 2022. I am also happy to have chosen L3Harris to help me achieve this goal! Now, the next step for me, is to build the 1,500 hours so I can apply to an airline that L3Harris offers partnerships with!
My advice for any women (or really anyone) wanting to pursue an aviation career is:
- Flight training is not easy, you go through a lot of ups and downs. But remember that it’s part of it!
- Down moments also make you stronger and they will pass
- Study hard
- Fly safe
- Have FUN! (Otherwise, what’s the point?)