YORKSHIRE has flown the flag for women in aviation since the days of Amy Johnson but the white rose county took girl power to new heights today when a commercial flight took off from Leeds-Bradford Airport with a ground and air crew staffed entirely by women.
Eighty six years after Hull-born pioneer Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, hundreds of passengers boarded a Jet2.com plane bound for Amsterdam without a male member of staff in sight.
From the check-in desk, through baggage handling and boarding to pushback, and on the flight itself, 12 women made aviation history to mark International Women’s Day in style.
For First Officer Louise Iveson, the flight merely served to reinforce the opportunities that exist for women in the aviation industry, and in particular with Yorkshire-based low-cost airline Jet2.com.
“There are increasing numbers of women finding roles in every part of the industry to the point where people are starting to stop feeling surprised when they hear the person flying the plane is female,” said Louise.
“Passengers are generally excited to find out that they have a female pilot: you do get the occasional bit of banter along the line of ‘Who’s going to park the plane for you?’ but it’s all in good spirit. I’ve never had any prejudice.
“I hope today shows other women wanting to join the industry that there is nothing stopping them from achieving their ambitions.”
Louise, 30, joined Jet2.com on their three-year pilot apprentice scheme after gaining her flying licence on a 14-month course in Spain. For the first year she spent time with other departments within Jet2.com, which gave her a detailed insight into what makes a large, complex airline tick.
“I met female colleagues wherever I went, from baggage handling and despatch to the office where the company hedges its aviation fuel,” she said. “As a pilot you are in quite a privileged position and once the flight deck doors are closed it can be easy to feel distanced from everyone else. “The apprenticeship allowed me to appreciate how hard everyone works across the organisation, and this special flight underlines that it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”
Jet2.com’s International Women’s Day all-female flight team were Anna Martin (captain), Louise Iveson (first officer), Rebecca Kay, Louise Clark Wise and Sarah Nicholson (cabin crew), Janet Hodgson (duty manager), Becky Durkin, Ceit Brown and Karen Fitzpatrick (passenger services), Maxine Paulin and Georgina Horsfall (ramp team), and Holly Chandler (despatcher).