Ashley is currently completing her MCC/JOC and is nearing the end of her training. Before she goes off to apply for the airlines, she discusses her journey so far. Ashley explains how at age 21, an article she read on a plane discussing the lack of females in the industry, lead her to follow a career path she never previously thought about. Her journey is inspiring and offers great advice for those pursuing their own dream of becoming a pilot.
Today we are celebrating the significance of International Women's Day.
Established in 1911, this day is a focal point for the movement of women's rights. Just as we will celebrate the achievement of men on 19th November, today we are taking time to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and most notably, pilots.
the first women in aviation
Amelia Earhart is probably the most well known women in aviation history, however there have been many other pioneers. The first woman to pilot a heavier than air craft was a french sculptor and aviator, called Therese Peltier (in 1908), and just two years later, Baroness Raymonde de Laroche was the first woman to be granted her pilot's licence. However it was 62 years before Yvonne Pope (who started out as a flight attendant) became the first woman to fly a commercial jet.
Last year marked the centennial anniversary of the First World War and a significant moment in the history of transport. You can view a timeline of 100 years of women in transport and its impact here: www.wes.org.uk
However our focus today is on the present, and our female pilots who have overcome their own challenges, and inspire us and other aviation enthusiasts.
We attended Virgin Atlantic's Future Flyer and Expert Engineers Day.
The event was organised with the intention to inspire children aged 9-16 years who may not have considered a role within aviation - a dynamic and expanding industry.
We were thrilled to be invited to the event and able to offer our support to such a local, and influential brand.
Why did you train to become a pilot?
When I was 19 and a student I started to work as a secretary in an aviation company. Within months of working there, I grew a passion for aviation and fell in love with the idea of being a pilot. I started in flight operations and became exposed to pilots, hearing their stories and how they explained things.
Despite my growing interest, I knew the cost and felt like it was impossible for me, something that was entirely out of my reach.
No turning back
I saved every penny I could and eventually saved up enough money to complete my Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). For me, it made sense to start by only focusing on that aspect of the training. I told myself that the PPL was financially a lower risk than enrolling straight onto an integrated course. It gave me time to save just enough money and was an excellent place to start my training. I felt that if I succeed at this stage, it will give me the knowledge and confidence to decide whether I could progress on to the more advanced training required of airline pilots.
The problem was there would never be any turning back after experiencing what it was like to fly – I instantly became addicted. I knew that I would never be happy if I didn’t now follow my dream.
Finding the right flight school
I researched all the pilot training, and my boss who is also a mentor to me said to go to the states and train over there. It was a UK certified flight school but based in Florida, and you gained an EU licence at the end of your training. It was only possible with thanks to funds from my parents and a personal loan. After I had completed my commercial training, I had to find somewhere to complete my IR (in the US you cannot do your instrument rating).
I looked around Europe and the UK and first looked at a few, large flight schools based in the South of England and their prices were well out of reach. I was also very disappointed by their customer service. Through further research, I discovered FTA and everything felt happy. I got a response within hours and had all the answers to my questions. Stuart (the Admissions Officer at the time) was friendly and helpful.
Ana, a qualified Flight Instructor turned pilot explains what life as First Officer for airBaltic is like, and how she and her partner make it possible to both work as pilots and still enjoy a happy family life.
Why did you want to be a pilot?
Estimates from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISA) in 2015 suggested that there were about 4,000 women pilots worldwide that's just 3%. Another estimate, by easyJet, puts the balance at 5%, with 6% of its own flying staff female.
Over 37% of FTA’s October intake (on the Integrated Flight Deck Programmes or FDP) were female. If this were any other academic course that statistics would not be so unusual. But with over 94% of pilot jobs held by men, this number suddenly sounds very exciting!