Fortællinger fra min karriere: Helen – Kvindelig Pilot

Når vi skal på ferie og vi sidder i flyveren, klar til at lette – oplever vi oftest en mandlig pilot byde velkommen og ønske os en god rejse. Men nu skal i møde i Helen. Hun er kvindelig pilot og kunne ikke drømme om, at have en anden karriere. Vi har taget en snak med den seje kvinde, der her fortæller om karrieren og livet i en ellers ret mandlig-præget branche.

 

Q

What did you dream of becoming when you was a kid?

A

After growing up in an era of endless courtroom dramas on TV, I wanted to be a lawyer! The idea of logical debating criminal cases, and making a difference appealed.

Q

What is your education?

A

I studied maths and physics at school and went in to do a BSc in Pure and Applied Physics at university, followed by a MSc in Computing. It was after this that I decided I wanted to pursue my passion for flying and was lucky to get a place after university on the British Airways Future Pilot Program to gain my commercial flying licence (ATPL).  The scheme was great as it took people with a variety of experience and allowed them to get to first officer’s seat on a short haul aircraft. It still runs annually and although the application window has already closed Danish applicants can apply to become part of it in 2016

Q

When did you realize that you wanted to become a pilot?

A

I fell in love with flying, whilst backpacking around Africa as a university student. I met some African bush pilots, who took me flying over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As soon as I was airborne, I was amazed by the feeling of freedom up in the air, combined with the technical skill required to take the aircraft accurately through the sky, and to a safe landing.

Q

What is it about your job that you love so much?

A

As a commercial airline pilot there are still similarities to that first flying experience of mine, with many more challenging and rewarding aspects to add to it. I enjoy the challenges of handling a commercial jet safely around the world and knowing I have the technical knowledge required to do so. I also enjoy meeting the huge variety of people that help me to do so – from all the crew onboard the aircraft, to the ground crew, the airport staff and our customers.

Q

What is the most difficult/hardest thing about being a pilot?

A

One of the best things about the career is the huge opportunity to see so many places around the world not only from the ground but also from the sky but that can also be one of the more difficult aspects of the job. You will be working away from home, family and friends, and sometimes that means you miss occasions being with them. The view of London that you see coming into Heathrow has got to be one of the best parts of my day. The landing into Heathrow is one of the best you will see as a pilot and its made better by knowing I’m coming home.

Q

What does a typical day in Helens life look like?

A

There is no typical day in the life of a pilot and it is this ever changing work environment that is challenging yet rewarding. One day I might be flying somewhere only an hour away from London, another time I may be flying for 10 hours before I get to my destination. We work different shifts, different time zones, always with different people and different flying conditions. No two days are the same!

Q

At your job you may experience special things, does it require something extraordinary to have a job like yours?

A

The job is extraordinary, and we want to recruit the best people possible for the job, but it starts with a passion to fly. If you have that passion then it’s definitely a career you should pursue.

Q

Have you ever experienced people being critical to the fact that you are a female pilot?

A

I have never experienced anything other than people being very encouraging and positive about seeing a female pilots. Our female often come up to me in the terminal and say how pleased they are to see women in the role. A customs recently said to me “we’ve always been able to do these things, which just haven’t always been allowed” which I think expresses it perfectly! British Airways actively encourages females to apply to be pilots which is always nice to see.

Q

What has been the best experience you have had as a pilot?

A

One of my most memorable flying experiences was returning to Africa after that is where my passion for flying was first ignited, this time in a 767, in a British Airways uniform, flying past Kilimanjaro as the sun rose in the sky, looking out over the African bush.

Q

How do you balance work and your time off?

A

Due to the time away from home we are rewarded with quite a few days off. When I’m away with work I take my guitar with me and play it wherever I am in the world. At home, I’m organised about my sleep patterns so that I can make the most of the days off, I have by getting out and about cycling and sailing, and spend as little time as possible sitting around.

Q

What drives you on your job?

A

My motivation at work is to continue to maintain the high standards we have at British Airways, both professionally with my flying and offering the best service I can to our customers, who very often have saved up for a long time for this once in a lifetime special trip, and anything we can do to add to that experience is rewarding for me.

Q

Do you have any other plans for the future?

 

A

There are lots of other opportunities to be involved in other roles alongside flying. I am currently a mentor for our trainee pilots when they are at flying college and would like to get more involved in the recruitment of the best pilots into British Airways.

Q

Do you have an yadvice for people who are considering working in the same industry as you are?

A

There is nothing I’d rather do for a career. It is an ever changing dynamic industry, and an exciting and rewarding place to work. If it sparks an interest in you, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. People encouraged me to follow my dream, and here I am today, doing a job I love and wouldn’t trade for anything else.

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