Meet Maria Fagerström. Maria is a commercial aviation pilot flying Boeing 737-800. She talks about her journey to become a pilot and flight experience.
Sam: Thank you for taking part in this interview. Would you please share with us what made you want to become a pilot, flying Boeing 737s?
Maria Fagerström: I’ve always been fascinated by the life of an airline pilot. Growing up, I had the chance to come along on trips abroad with my dad, who is a pilot himself, flying long-haul on the Airbus 330-340. l would sit on the jump seat in the flight deck watching him work, and that is how I got introduced into the aviation world. It felt very natural for me, having both my parents' support, to start my training to become a pilot myself.
When I was eighteen years old, I applied for a government funded aviation school in Sweden. After many tests, psychological evaluations, and exams, I was fortunate enough to get accepted. I combined my pilot studies with studying the natural science program in high school, and when I was twenty years old, I graduated having my commercial pilot license.
Sam: How much flight time have you logged over the years?
Maria Fagerström: I’ve been working as a commercial airline pilot for over four years and have logged over three thousand hours flying the Boeing 737-800.
Sam: You’ve mentioned how intense becoming a pilot is. What was the toughest part, and the most significant takeaway from that experience?
Maria Fagerström: The studying to become a pilot is not difficult. It’s just very time-consuming and incredibly intense at times. You get to actually practice what you learn in theory which is highly motivating when the studying is so intense. Then again, it is up to everyone who decides to become a pilot at what phase they want to do it. I chose to study for my pilot license during high school. I did two education courses at once, which I found very difficult at times. However, I’ve always been goal-oriented and even though it was tough at times, I've never doubted that flying was what I wanted to do.
Sam: Being in a male dominated industry, have you faced any unique challenges that you've had to adapt to?
Maria Fagerström: Even though the aviation industry is male-dominated, with only 5% females working as commercial pilots, I’ve never been treated differently by my crew members from my male colleagues. However, it is only natural for others to be surprised to see a female pilot. But sometimes I hear passengers say it’s a male profession and it’s not suitable for a woman. However, comments like that have only motivated me to do my job better. Today, we can clearly see that being a professional pilot has nothing to do with gender.
Disclaimer: All photos provided courtesy of Maria Fagerström.
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