Date: 11 March 2018
Hi, my name is Catarina and I am in training to become a pilot at L3’s Airline Academy in Portugal. I was always taught that you can be and do anything you want if you have the strength and courage to go further. Throughout your life you will find many obstacles to overcome, one of them being what you want to do with your life, as a career, as a job, as a human being, as a woman… I was no exception.
During my time at school, I was presented with many options that I could consider as a future career – but I simply was not motivated by any of these. I knew I wanted to experience something grand and awe-inspiring. I wanted a career that would secure me employment but more importantly I wanted a career that would not disregard my happiness. It all fell into place when a childhood family friend came to visit, and suggested that I become an airline pilot. Since then, I have been so caught up in wanting to be a pilot that I have forgotten to want anything else.
After researching how to make this huge dream of mine come true, I discovered that there are some choices you need to make and priorities you need to set. For instance, doing your ATPL (Air Transport Pilot License) is financially challenging. However, as I have discovered, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.
Having finished all my exams, I am now left with the most exciting phase of the ATPL course – FLYING! I am currently completing the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) phase of my training but I cannot wait to get my license and my first job as a full certified pilot.
These past couple of years have been both the most exciting and demanding phases of my life. Exciting because you are taking the first steps to build your career, one that you love and are happy to be pursuing, but also demanding because you have a completely new environment to get used to, new challenges to face and baggage to carry by starting the next chapter of your life. Not everyone’s journey is the same, and although there might be ups and downs, once you conquer the goals you set, then every experience you went through will reward you by making you stronger, help you grow as a person, and most importantly as a professional.
As I said before, I struggled to find my dream job and I believe the reason for that is people seem to fear anything out of the ordinary. People focus too much on what society expects of them instead of trying something outside the norm – something that might challenge them physically and mentally.
The aviation industry, in my opinion, struggled to encourage women to become pilots, but now it is changing. New initiatives are surfacing from airlines around the world, showing more willingness to recruit women. We women have always been a part of this industry and I hope now we can find more ways to inspire more women worldwide to pursue this career of becoming an airline pilot as it has so much to offer! Women have proven to be capable of performing any task in this environment as now we have been given the same opportunities and are treated with the same rights as everyone else.
Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot, 1921.
The best outcome of joining this industry is that you will always challenge yourself by becoming your best self, and by surrounding yourself with people who share your dreams and passion makes it a lot easier to overcome the obstacles you face. Do not let stereotypes stop you from fighting for what you believe is right and do not let them prevent you from letting your dreams soar higher than the sky.
Keep fighting, keep dreaming, and keep believing!