Women in Aviation - Connie Sutton

by Connie Sutton on Mar 08 2019
Hi there, my name is Connie and I am 21 years old. I am a cadet here at L3 Airline Academy in Bournemouth, and have recently been placed with easyJet (which as you can imagine, I am very pleased about!)

For me, my love for aviation first started when my family moved out to New Zealand when I was six years old. This was the first time that I had experienced planes and flying, and I was awestruck. We lived just outside Christchurch International Airport, so I was surrounded by the buzz of aircraft movements – seeing and hearing the jets every day. We later returned to the U.K. and for my 12th birthday, my parents bought me a trial flying lesson, as they knew how much I dreamed of becoming a pilot. You hear people talk about getting ‘the bug’ – I can safely say that I got the bug that day. Over the following years, I attended many air shows and things like that to satisfy my passion for aviation.

As I was reaching my GCSE’s at school, I began to realise that I could fly as a job, not just a hobby. By my A Levels, I started to think more seriously about becoming a pilot as my career, so I came up with a plan of action and initiated my research. I attended Pilot Careers Live (PCL) in London Heathrow’s Sofitel Hotel and discovered L3 Airline Academy (CTC Aviation at the time). I met with representatives and cadet pilots and they invited me to come and see them at an open day at their training center in Southampton. I did just that, as well as visiting other airline training organizations to make sure I’d found the flight school that was right for me. It was obvious to me from that day, from the welcoming atmosphere and positive outlook of the people at L3 that they were the right people for me to train with.

Being the only person in my family that has entered the aviation industry, it was a big step for me to get accepted onto an Integrated ATPL course. There was definitely a sense of accomplishment, realising that actually, yeah I can do this. In my experience so far, everyone within the industry seems open to embracing more women onto the Flight Deck, which is really great to see. I have found it to actually be the public that still haven’t quite come around to the idea of women flying planes. I still get a look of shock from some people when I tell them that I am training to be an airline pilot, to which I swiftly let them know that “we all go through the same training, and are assessed to the same standards”, to educate them that there is no difference at all which gender the person flying their planes is. That said, the vast majority of experiences that I have had are positive and people are really pleased that I am chasing my dream. The issue really is that there aren’t enough people that know about women being pilots, and it is still unconventional to many. This is what I look forward to seeing change as I progress through training and my career.

It would be hard for me to put into one sentence what it is about flying that I love so much. I love the feeling of being in the air, every time I go flying it is a completely different experience; with different weather and airspace environments I have learned how to use every flight as a lesson and I intend to carry that ethos throughout my career with me.

If I had any advice for anyone that is dreaming of becoming a pilot, it would be to go for it. Do your research, attend open days, apply for courses and give it your best shot. If you get a no the first time around, keep going - if it is your dream and you believe in yourself, you can do it.