In this special AvGeek series, Flight Chic guest writer Rida Khan has candid conversations with pilots who share their passion for flight and what inspired them to pursue a life in the clouds.
To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love flying, the sky is home. Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards. There you find your wings. All you have to do is FLY.
We celebrate Women’s Day by sharing the story of an inspiring woman pilot: Lindy Kats.
Women play an important role in the history of aviation, with daring aviatrixes making their mark from the beginning. While in the air—as on the ground—women fight for equal opportunities, compensation and recognition. Some have persisted, pursuing their passion for flight, and succeeded in taking the helm.
Pilot Lindy Kats is an excellent example of determination and endurance against the odds. Originally from the Netherlands, she is now based in Italy and flies Boeing 717 aircraft.
Q: Did you always want to be a pilot? How did your family support & motivate you as you pursued your passion for flying?
Kats: I have always loved flying, but I never thought it was actually possible. I was told it is very expensive to become a pilot and the selections are very tough. When I was 15 years old, I had to start thinking what I would like to do after secondary school. Our school visited a career fair. While I was there, I was interested in many professions, but nothing really made my heart beat faster than the idea of becoming a pilot.
I started to do research on the internet and visited open days of flight schools. I went for the selection process at a flight school in Madrid, and was accepted to start my flight training!
My family and friends have always supported me, even though they knew it meant I would probably live and work abroad. They have always been there for me and I try to be there for them whenever they need it.
Q: Your first fly experience when you joined aviation industry?Kats: My first flight was amazing, I could not sleep the day before and I could not imagine it would be me flying a plane! The instructor taught me how to climb, descend, make turns and accelerate. The following flights I continued practising basic flying skills, including landings and take-offs, or touch and go’s. After a few flying lessons, I was ready to go ‘solo’.
Q: Would you like to share a memorable moment of your journey towards becoming a pilot?Kats: That solo flight was probably the most memorable flight of my life. When you are ready to go for your first solo—which means you will make three landings and take offs all by yourself—the instructor leaves the plane and lets you go alone. I remember looking at the seat next to me, realising that I was flying the plane all by myself without an instructor. This was so incredible! I felt very proud of myself.
Q: How did you adjust your life schedule being a pilot while managing the responsibilities of your family?
Kats: As I live and work abroad, I cannot always be there for holidays and celebrations but I do try to visit my home country regularly. For special occasions, I can ask days off. In low season, I sometimes have a week off, besides my vacation. I do try to meet all my friends and family whenever I’m in town. That often ends up in a busy schedule, but I love seeing them and catching up with them. Social media really helps me to stay in touch with them too. There are many times I don’t even notice the physical distance between us.
Q: What’s one thing that you love about your job?Kats: I love almost everything about my job. I get to travel to many new places, see all of Europe and the Mediterranean from the sky. There’s the magical sensation of the trust during take-off, and the awesome feeling when I make a very smooth landing after a challenging flight.
Q: What’s your favourite destination to fly?Kats: I honestly don’t have a favourite destination, but I love to fly to islands in Greece, Spain, and Italy. The sea and coastlines make for beautiful views when approaching or departing from there.
Q: What are the unique challenges faced by woman pilots?Kats: From other female pilots, I’ve heard they occasionally have negative comments from old-fashioned passengers being concerned about having a woman pilot the plane. I have never had such an experience, though. Most of the time, I get positive comments from people who are surprised to see a woman behind the controls. What I like most is when young girls want to see the cockpit before disembarking the plane. I would love to inspire more young people to follow their dreams to become a pilot.
Q: Do you think there are more opportunities for women to become a pilot in the aviation industry?Kats: Women are becoming less rare in the aviation industry. We’re still a minority, but I think that makes it interesting as well. We are used to working in a male-dominated environment, and often I am happy to be considered ‘one of the guys’.
Q: How can women advance in aviation?Kats: In aviation, we need both technical skills and knowledge, as well as non-technical skills like communication, cooperation, and team management. I believe we can always learn from each other and try to improve. In the end, we are all individuals sharing a passion for the skies, and trying to get the best out of ourselves.
Q: Do you have any advice for our future women pilots?Kats: Becoming a pilot requires a lot of dedication, hard work and a lot of studying. It’s so much more than looking fabulous in a uniform and travelling from one destination to the other, exploring the world. We always have to keep our knowledge and skills up to date. We never really finish studying. We can’t always be with the ones we love, and we can be very lonely from time to time. But if you are really sure that you want to pursue your dream and become a pilot, I would recommend that you gather information on the internet about flight schools in your region. Visit them on open days, and ask them all you want to know. The flight schools will be happy to answer all of your questions and doubts. Good luck!
After speaking to Pilot Lindy Kats, it’s clear that she has well-defined goals and loves her profession of flying. I believe that she has chosen the right career path for success.
You can follow Pilot Lindy Kats on Instagram @pilot_lindy and on her YouTube channel : Pilot Lindy
Guest writer Rida Khan is a foodie blogger with a hunger for a big slice of the skies. A native of Bhopal, India, Khan writes about food and aviation and is working on an airline in-flight food research project. She also posts healthy food recipes for pilots and travellers on social media.
You can follow Rida Khan on Social Media:
- Twitter : @mohd_ridakhan
- Instagram : @ridakhan_21
- Food Blog: Innovative Dishes On Your Way