Women in Aviation - Mariana Franco

by Mariana Franco on Mar 04 2019
My name is Mariana, and I started my Integrated ATPL (A) Course in November 2018 at the European Airline Academy in Portugal. I’m 18 years old, and if everything goes accordingly, I’ll be flying for an airline before my 21st birthday. I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was 14 years old, and after quite a bit of research, I found that L3 Airline Academy was the best fit for me.

At the moment, I’m about halfway through Ground School and things couldn’t be better! I’m learning about something I’m passionate about, and every day that goes by is even more interesting than the last. The classes are challenging, of course, but with proper hard work and dedication, I don’t see a reason to fail. Ground School is commonly known as the “boring” part of the course. Unanimously, everyone wants to start flying right away, but this is an essential part of the course. You have to make sure you know the machine you’re dealing with, fully understand the situations that you will face, and understand the responsibility that comes with being a pilot. Furthermore, you can’t expect to have much time off throughout Ground School, but you soon get in to the rhythm of things.

One of the things that I appreciate about this way of life is that every day you are able to learn and adapt. All of this knowledge gets stored in a corner of your mind for future reference. However, it wasn’t exactly easy to get here. A few years ago, I had a ‘bump in the road’. I found out I had astigmatism. Even though it was only a mild case, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pursue my dream and have the chance to earn my wings. Luckily, I later found out that my eyesight wouldn’t be a problem, and that genetics wouldn’t define my career. I simply have to have my glasses and a spare pair with me whenever I’m in the cockpit!

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only inconvenience I had to face. Whenever someone asked me what my plans for the future were (because you see, this is the main thing 18 year-olds get asked), I mostly got a surprised and yet confused look from the person in front of me. This was almost always followed up by the same sequence of sentences. And out of all these comments, there’s was one the always bugged me: “Are you sure? I mean I don’t think I’ve ever flown with a woman pilot before!”

After a while, I decided to do a little digging. I found that less than 6% of all pilots were women, which indeed proves that the odds of someone flying with a female pilot are, sadly, scarce. There’s no reason for people to still doubt that women can fly just as well as men. So, to any woman considering being a pilot: go for it. The myth that aviation is solely a man’s world needs to end. Hard work and passion make the pilot, not the gender.

I know I’m not a qualified pilot just yet, but from what I can tell, the training and the actual job can be summed up into the same statement. It’s tough, but worth it.