Pilots, aviators, flyers: looking back at Pilots’ Week

The past week was all about pilots. To mark International Pilots’ Day, AeroTime ran a series of exclusive interviews, features and stories about – and told by – aviators. We spoke with pilots from all corners of the globe, from Australia to Africa and from Europe to India as they shared their stories about living and working during a pandemic, and looked back at their most impressive achievements, biggest challenges, and much more. In case you missed it, here are some highlights of the past week:

Soaring in times of change

In mid-2020, as the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic became clearer, pilots across the world were subject to layoffs, pay cuts, and non-existent flight hours. It was not long before these developments took a toll on their well-being. As the aviation industry dealt with the most challenging event in its history, companies scrambled to cut their losses, perhaps not realizing how much it would affect their people.

A year later and it could be said that the industry has had plenty of time to evaluate the situation and enact appropriate measures. AeroTime reported on whether the industry has risen to the challenge and what has changed over the past year:

The past year remains one of the toughest in history for many people in the aviation industry. Yet pilots are precisely the kind of people who tend to find solutions even in the most difficult of situations – they are resilient, agile, and creative.

When she landed her dream job and relocated to the United States, Hunter McLeod had no idea that her American Dream would end and with her camping in her mum’s back garden. But Hunter picked herself back up and is now piloting a 14-seater caravan, ferrying tourists to the Outback.

And look at Amanda Kandawire. She used to be the Senior First Officer on the Airbus A380 at Emirates. After she was grounded by the pandemic, she was quick to adapt to the change and saw the opportunity to start her own business. In fact, she now runs two companies.

Extraordinary tales of remarkable people 

In its day, Concorde epitomized glamour. Celebrities clamored to secure a spot on the supersonic plane, and images of famous actors, musicians, sportspeople, and politicians flying around the world helped to cement its place in history. AeroTime caught up with Tony Yule, a former First Officer of Concorde, to find out what it was like to fly the aircraft.

Among the many skills and talents of Sneha Sharma, shattering boundaries and stereotypes appear to be her specialty. Fascinated by speed, Sneha is a captain at low-cost airline IndiGo, the largest in India by passengers carried and fleet size. But Sneha’s achievements don’t stop at aviation as she is also a racing driver who competes in the Formula 4 National Racing Championship. The first Indian woman to win an international racing championship, she has 40 race appearances under her belt.

Many people would call her story extraordinary, and with good reason. Chief flying instructor of fixed-wing at ETPS in the UK, Isabelle de Montet-Guerin, has enjoyed a long and varied career with roles that have included working as a pilot for British Airways on the Boeing 757 and 767 and as a test pilot for Airbus at the facility in Toulouse.

Besides having worked as a pilot with Jet Airways, Divya Manchanda is a web designer, computer engineer, and entrepreneur. With her experience as a consultant in the gaming industry, jobs in FinTech start-ups, digital marketing, sales and marketing, Divya is the perfect example that you can be whoever you want to be as long as you keep learning.

Pilots who received the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award this week

This week, AeroTime presented the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award to three pilots for their inspirational work and their support of the industry and the next generation.

Do you remember the craze around “Buy Tickets like you bought Toilet paper”? It is Virgin Atlantic’s Captain Chris Pohl that you have to thank for it. A year ago, Chris didn’t know what Instagram was and now he has a growing following and an inbox swelling to more than 300 DMs a day  – even more since this award was announced. He answers them all, helping the next generation of aviators, supporting those people having a tough time during the pandemic, and sharing his positivity in bucketloads.

Captain Zoya was just eight-years-old when she started dreaming about touching the stars. From her humble beginnings, she spent long nights studying under the streetlights outside her home, encouraged by her own determination to break down stereotypes and barriers. She became the youngest female captain in India to fly a Boeing 777. Zoya has made it her mission to inspire all young girls and women who dream of flying.

It was a leap of faith that landed Obet Mazinyi in the 747 cockpit, enabling him to become a role model for pilots around the world. From watching aircraft arrive at and depart from Lusaka International Airport during his school lunch break, to becoming a Captain on Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 747-400 and 747-800, Obet was willing to cross continents to fulfil his dreams. His love affair with the ‘Queen of the Skies’ has dominated his career and today he is not only an ambassador for the aircraft but an inspirational mentor for many young aviators who find encouragement and wisdom in the messages he shares.

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