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The first ever passenger plane set off over 100 years ago from St Petersburg in 1914 and humans have been hopping aboard ever since.
Of course, airlines weren’t what we knew them as today for decades – and it was very expensive to fly – but it was possible to jet across the globe.
Sadly, despite the many years of leisure travel behind us the first woman to become a commercial airline pilot in the UK – Yvonne Pope Sintes – wasn’t able to get her wings until 1965.
READ MORE: Female pilot, 22, mistaken as flight attendant and people even 'hand her their bags'
Now, some 57 years later the ratio of male to female pilots is still overwhelmingly skewed.
In 2016, men outnumbered women 16 to 1, according to the Independent, while in 2020 statistics showed that women made up just 5% of the world’s pilots, noted The Points Guy UK.
But, there are still lots of women moving waves as pilots across the country.
Here at the Daily Star we spoke to TUI pilot Kristy Palmer, based in the East Midlands, who says that things are starting to change within the aviation world about her experiences as a female pilot.
Kristy actually started her career as a flight attendant which isn’t unusual as it’s a faster to complete training to be a member of the cabin crew.
She explained: “I spent nine years in awe of pilots and longing to fly the aircraft myself.
“I took every opportunity to sit in the flight-deck for take-off and landings, and one pilot told me, ‘Kristy, if I can do this, you can. You just have to be determined and motivated. From that day on, I never looked back.”
After 17 years in the industry, Kristy is “so content” in her choice to become a pilot, but recognises that aviation is still in the majority a man’s world.
Thankfully, she says she’s never felt discriminated against and is “privileged to have only worked amongst true professionals who have only supported and encouraged my development“.
However there are some cringe-inducing moments that stem from people assuming pilots are men and flight attendants are women…
Kristy commented: “I have been mistaken for cabin crew during training events. This doesn’t bother me, I take it as a compliment, they might think I’ve got a bit of glamour!”
Luckily, it doesn’t usually happen on-board the plane as “the uniform distinguishes the two roles well”.
But, in Kristy’s opinion more women are joining aviation.
She explained: “The industry is historically male dominated and while there are a few female training pilots and captains the tide is definitely turning.
“Since I have been a captain, there have been more opportunities to fly with an all-female crew and I’ve seen more women join.
“A lot of women still see barriers to a career as a pilot, but they shouldn’t!
“TUI Airways has an Inspiring the Next Generation project where our pilots go into schools to talk to children about the career and encourage more females to consider a career as a pilot.”
Plus, there are plenty of ways to break into the insustry.
BA, easyJet and TUI hiring flight attendants – but you must meet strict requirements
Kristy added: “TUI has recently launched its Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL) Cadet Program in the UK which trains pilots over an 18-month period.
“Training commences with ground school, followed by basic flying training and then the advanced flying training phases.
“After this, trainees gain a broader understanding of our business before commencing operational line training on the 737.
“Applicants are required to have a minimum of five GCSEs including Maths, English and a Science at grade C/4 or above, however no previous flying experience or upfront training costs are required, opening the exciting opportunity to many aspiring pilots.”
Previously, it could cost a fortune to train as a pilot privately before moving into the commercial industry so schemes are a vital way to get not only more women, but more working class Brits into the field.
Pilot Kristy also thinks it’s one of the best jobs out there…
Kristy said: “I firmly believe that working in the aviation industry as a pilot is a privileged career.
“Women make great pilots, and to any young women considering a career in the industry I’d say believe in yourself and go for it!
“There are certainly challenges and you never stop having to prove yourself with annual tests and recurrent training but if you are ambitious and motivated, then you will do it! “
You can find out more at careers.tuigroup.com.
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