How does it feel to become a freshly licensed pilot amid the global pandemic? Greta Adlyte, a 24-year-old Lithuania-based pilot shares her bumpy COVID-19 experience in brief.

“I had started thinking about a pilot career when I was about to graduate from high school. Initially, it seemed to be an unreachable goal for me, but after thinking for a while, I didn’t find any reasons why I couldn’t pursue such a career. But before digging deeper, I found out that there was an aeroclub in my hometown, so I decided to join it and see if such a profession could fit me well.”

Greta took her first steps in aviation while practicing to fly a glider at Panevezys aeroclub. The girl got involved in a new activity so much that after graduating school, she moved to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where she started piloting studies at the local aviation institute. Since then, the captivating and challenging journey to her dream job has begun.

Although Greta used to hear some people doubting whether a woman can become a professional pilot, she says she did not pay much attention to stereotypes swirling around and never lost her self-confidence. Supported by her family, she recalls that she never regretted her career choice. Contrarily, the more she used to train how to control the aircraft, the stronger her passion for flying ignited.

“I remember my instructor once launched at me while watching me staying particularly calm during the training in the university when we had to handle simulated situations with an inoperative aircraft engine. I wasn’t stressed at all because I already had experience handling gliding aircraft since I used to spend a lot of time in the aeroclub,” the pilot says.

The studying process went smoothly and the passionate aviator was impatiently looking forward to the moment when she would be able to dive into commercial aviation. Simultaneously, she joined a private pilot school where she became a ground instructor and lecturer.

Unfortunately, Greta graduated from the university only a few months before the global pandemic froze the aviation market.

When the industry was hit by the pandemic so hard that the airlines started laying off even the highly experienced flight crew, the freshly-licensed pilot realized that it would take years for the market to recover. But being a self-disciplined and confident person, Greta says she never lost hope in her bright future.

“In my opinion, the 2019s was a peak time for the aviation industry. The aviation world is cyclical and after every ascent comes the time of recession. I was doubting when such a recession would happen. [...] I graduated from the university in March 2020, but a few months later, in June 2020, the government of Lithuania as well as other countries in the world implemented strict quarantine rules. Such conditions prevented me from developing my further career as a pilot,” Greta recalls.

“I found aviation as the greatest passion of my life and I used to work hard and to overcome all the challenges, so initially it was hard for me to accept the ongoing situation in the industry. We all [the student-pilots, ed.] were impatiently waiting for graduation to be able to enter commercial aviation but when we finally finished the studies, all of our dreams were put on hold,” the pilot shares.

Due to the changed circumstances in the aviation market, Greta spent most of her time focusing on activities in the aeroclub as well as her duties in the private pilot school and was promoted to a new position as a Compliance Monitoring Manager. As for now, the pilot gives lectures for students and is responsible for paperwork in the pilot school. Because of the ongoing uncertainty, Greta says she is unable to build plans for her future career much, but she impatiently waits until the pandemic ends and the demand for new pilots will increase again.

“No one wants to lose the flying skills which s/he has already gained, so I don’t want that either. Currently, I continue flying a single-engine aircraft and a glider in the aeroclub, and at the same time, I’m expanding my competencies in the pilot school. I would definitely love to try the job of a commercial airline pilot someday when the pandemic ends. But, I don’t rule out the possibility of teaching students to fly. Since I’ve been teaching the theoretical part for a while now, I can say it’s also an engaging activity to interact with students.”

“For some people, aviation might seem to be a complicated field, but the most important quality for a person who wants to become a pilot is a desire to learn. This situation of the global pandemic has shown that even if you lose a chance to develop a career in commercial aviation, it’s always possible to find yourself in other aviation-related activities. Resilience is the key” Greta admits.