Women in Aviation - Olivia Greathurst

by Olivia Greathurst on Mar 07 2019
Hi, my name is Olivia Greathurst, I'm 19 and I am a British Airways ATPL Cadet currently training out in New Zealand. I used to be a member of Cabin Crew for BA, and it is great to now be training to be one of their pilots. Aviation has been an interest of mine since I was a child, but less than 6% of the world’s pilots being female and so few role models to aspire to, it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I decided I wanted to pursue a career for myself.

Growing up, most of my family have worked in aviation in some respect, so I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel a lot which is where my initial interest was sparked. My favourite part of going on holiday used to be the flight and planes fascinated me no end. I couldn’t quite believe something so big could make it off the ground - let alone fly me across the Atlantic!

I will always remember that ‘light bulb’ moment when I realised that this is what I wanted to do. I attended a careers event at my school, aimed at inspiring students to think about what we wanted to do with our futures. It was at this careers fair where I met the father of one of my peers, who worked as a British Airways Captain. I spent about an hour grilling him on every aspect of his job – why he became a pilot, how he trained for the role, what his job involved – and left at the end of the night feeling so excited. I rushed home to tell my mum all about my new-found dream career.

After that, I started doing some research into the training options available to me, which is when I came across L3 Airline Academy. L3 definitely appeared to be the school that would be the best for me, and with their impressive list of airline relationships, I was excited to see where they could take me in my career. My mum and I attended around 4 or 5 open days in Southampton in order to gather as much information, and as many contacts as possible to help me with my future applications. In October 2017, after finishing my A Levels in June, I applied for the British Airways Cadet programme, and it came as a complete surprise to me when, in January 2018 after months of tests and interviews, I was offered a place on the scheme.

I was working as a BA cabin crew at the time, which was a role I had decided to go into after leaving school as I wanted to gain some industry experience whilst I waited for a training course to open up. Things don’t always go exactly to plan, which is why I found myself in a situation where I had to wait for a place on a pilot programme to become available. I loved my year as cabin crew and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to experience life from the other side of the flight deck. My role as crew definitely helped prepare me for the more physical aspects of flying as well, such as jet lag and early starts.

In October 2018, I made the big move out to L3’s New Zealand base in Hamilton, to start my training. I’m five months in, I can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! Ground school is tough, but seeing the hard work pay off with good results makes it all worthwhile - and knowing that I’m here to begin my dream career makes it all the better.

The drive for equality in aviation is all about inspiring and encouraging young girls who, like me, have an interest in flying but perhaps have never come across a female pilot. I aim to use my voice in the industry to let girls know that it’s not just a man’s career, and we too can be whatever we want to be. Glass ceilings were made to be broken, and by empowering each other we can defeat the stereotypes.