Being brought up as the youngest child of three, with two protective brothers and an inclusive family, you are going to believe that everything is equal. However, you will find that you will have a few more hurdles to jump over than your brothers, and this will make you strong and independent.
You are going to feel much happier in later years to know that it will get easier for other girls following in your footsteps, and to some degree that will be because of people like you and not in spite of you! I promise you that your determination to find a way forward in aviation will bring you the satisfaction of achievement that you want, and that you must never give up on fulfilling your dreams.
Girls will be ‘allowed’ to be Air Cadets and pilots in the RAF in your future, and you will find a way to become a pilot too despite being told that you will never be able to hold a Commercial Licence. You will learn to ‘fight your corner’, be independent and above all else resourceful. In other words it is not going always going to be easy, but passion and determination see the most hardened aviation addicts through, and your first lesson will have you hooked. You will remember the kindness of the ATC guy (that you randomly phoned from the telephone directory) who chatted for ages about the heliport and helicopter activities while pointing you towards your nearest flying school for your first lesson, your friends and family who will give you a lift to the airfield for lessons because you had no car, the fiend and colleague (come medical adviser) who steered you towards your Class One medical, and the female entrepreneur who gave you your first ‘real’ Commercial Pilot posting.
Since you will be your own hardest task master, here are a few words of advice: Firstly, do not let people take advantage of you – you are always so willing to help that it might backfire. Secondly, try to be one step ahead of your career plan. The aviation industry has a history of ‘ups & downs’, forgive the unintended but obvious pun. What I mean is that there will be highs and lows in the industry which you will see that from the outset. It is not always predictable either. The economy is the frequent driver, but also think terrorists, natural disasters and pandemics. In other words, there is a high probability that your job will be affected at some point in your life, so make sure that you have savings put away and debts paid as soon as you are earning an income.
If you’re instructing, stay busy in the summer, put money away for winter. Subsidise your income by offering ground school tuition and use your knowledge to help others while getting paid. Hint; it will be really useful to keep that rating current, even if you get a good airline job, as you never know when it may come in handy! Have a Plan B, always think ‘what if’? Be flexible, take temporary ‘make do’ jobs. Your training will prepare you for other roles, depending on how far you are into your career. And don’t try to be too independent. Instead, join BALPA or IPA. Remember, that whatever happens, there is always support. Other people will experience the same as you. So, get advice, and never be shy to ask for help.
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