We continue to showcase some of the amazing women of aviation. Today we have the pleasure of introducing a young and bright First Officer – Anine Vilhelmsen Haug – our Boeing lady. Anine’s first airline job was with Norwegian Airlines; she was based at London Gatwick. Unfortunately, the base closed down due to the pandemic, but Anine is excited about the future and possibilities it will bring. And it looks like she may be back in the skies very soon!
Could you describe your journey into becoming a pilot so far?
“A career in aviation wasn’t always my dream. The idea came to me during my gap year after graduating from the upper secondary school in Norway. I was traveling through India and met a female pilot from Australia named Megan. She was the one that planted the seed for my interest in aviation, and after meeting more pilots during my journey around the world I grew more and more sure that becoming a pilot was the right choice for me.”
What obstacles have you faced while getting to where you are now?
“I think the biggest obstacle most pilots will meet is getting that first job after finishing flight training. For many this is harder than any part of the training you’ve just gone through as you are now left on your own to navigate the web of flying jobs out there. It took me a year before I landed my first job, and keeping myself motivated and my flying skills current cost a lot of energy and money.”
What fascinates you the most about aviation?
“What has always fascinated me about flying is that feeling of defying gravity.
Learning about the forces that work on a plane for it to get into the air was one of my favorite subjects in flight school. The best thing about being a pilot is the adrenaline rush you get with every single take off and landing.
And of course, the office views!
Nothing beats crossing over the alps on a sunny day, flying into a coastal airport in Norway or looking for shooting stars on a clear night.”
What advice would you give to other women considering a career in aviation?
“If this is something you are passionate about, go for it. There’s no reason you can’t do it just as well as anybody else!”
How can we get more women into aviation?
“I think a lot of women don’t consider a career in aviation as an option simply because it has been male dominated for so long. The job and lifestyle needs to be made more attractive for women – this is something the industry should work on as I think it would benefit everyone to even out the gender balance in the flight deck. Getting rid of old stigmas and creating better solutions when it comes to maternity leave, work-life balance etc. will go a long way.”
In your opinion, what are some of the misconceptions about women in aviation?
“A misconception that probably still exists among a small group of people is that women don’t have what it takes to fly. They will believe that women don’t have the same personality traits and skill set that makes men such good pilots, for example being mechanically inclined and having good math- and spatial abilities.”
When asked which country has the most female pilots, most people may think of Western or Northern Europe and countries like Canada, the USA or Australia. It may come as a surprise, but India has the highest percentage of female pilots 🇮🇳
Globally, only 5% of all the pilots are female. In India the number is higher than 12% (as of 2020).
In the last, pre – COVID-19 years, air travel in India has been booming. The growth in domestic air travel skyrocketed by 20%, so naturally, airlines had to hire more pilots. This may be one of the reasons why we see more women joining airlines in India. However, some airlines actively try to attract more women. For example, SpiceJet has set a target to increase the proportion of female pilots to 33% in the next few years.
We may see the numbers shifting once the pandemic is behind us, but there is a visible tendency to hire more female pilots all over the world.
Do you remember what challenges you faced during your training?
“I have to say, my training was very pain free. The flight school I chose was a good match for me and gave me a great start in the aviation world. For me, the most difficult part of the training was the instrument rating. Learning how to track NDB’s, doing VOR holdings etc. in the simulator was tough, but a great feeling once I cracked to code.”
Can you think of ways to improve the training process? What could help cadets to reach their maximum potential?
“For me, going from flying a single engine piston airplane to the Boeing 737 was a huge step. I’m not sure how to achieve it, but it would have helped me to have a smoother transition over to the world of jet aircraft. It’s one thing to have read about it during your ATPL’s, another when you actually start your type rating.”
Have you noticed any advantages of being a female pilot?
“Being a female in a male dominated industry will make more people notice you, which of course can be both good and bad. A lot of passengers will stick their head in the flight deck and tell me how cool it is to fly with a female pilot. But I’ve also experienced having to divert due to weather one day flying with a female captain, where passengers in the back were saying «this would only happen when flying with two women».
A clear advantage today though is that a lot of airlines are actively trying to hire more women.”
Did you know that the first pilot license issued to a woman was on March 8th in 1910?
Initially, Madame Elise Raymonde Deroche became an actress but was inspired, interested and personally acquainted with several aviators. Then she decided to take up flying for herself.
For the first time, de Raymonde de Laroche operated an aircraft of her friend, airplane builder Charles Voisin. It was a one-seat aircraft, so he was navigating her and giving instructions from the ground.
De Laroche’s flight has been considered as the first flight in a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft.
On March 8th, 1910 Aero-Club of France issued her licence #36 of the International Aeronautics Federation (F.A.I.)
What is the most challenging part about recurrent training (sim sessions)?
“I think you have to be a pilot for decades before you stop being nervous about your sim sessions, if you ever do. The sim flies differently from the airplane and you practice difficult procedures you don’t normally experience in the flight deck. The key is definitely preparation. Study anything and everything that can happen in the sim, that way you won’t feel as rushed when/if it happens.”
If you could give one advice for the people who are about to start their pilot training, what would it be?
“Have fun during your training! The two years I spent in flight school was two of the best years of my life. You have your whole career ahead of you to worry about which airplanes you want to fly and for which companies. The stuff that you get to do during your training, THAT’S the fun stuff!”
Anine, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you the best of luck in your career.
If you enjoyed the interview with Anine make sure to come back tomorrow when we interview Anna Kjær Thorsøe who is a General Manager and Chief Theoretical Knowledge Instructor (CTKI) at Center Air Pilot Academy. Stay tuned!
In case you missed it, here is yesterday’s interview with Aleksandra Kachamakova, student at Egnatia Aviation.