Mamukasei (A good morning to you). About an hour ago I was reading an article which stated that of all the licensed pilots in the world, less than 6 percent of them are women, and even fewer are employed in the big airlines. The article cited one of the primary reasons is the challenge of the flying job with having children and managing a household – the guilt associated with flying around the world while the kids are at home is sometimes overwhelming for ladies.
I believe the author was right in many regards but I don’t agree that ladies are kept disadvantaged because men have monopolized the aviation industry or have put a fence around it. Being a lady does not mean you are shut off from engaging in business in certain lines that are male dominated. There are other channels open to you and you can still do it big!
Take for example this amazing Zimbabwean lady called Sakhile Nyoni, the General Manager of Air Botswana who led the airline to massive profitability and set new records than most airlines in Africa could not set. Sakhile believed she could do an even better job than what most men can do.With many technical qualifications, including that of a pilot as well as a qualified IOSA auditor, she progressed to be highly regarded as an expert in the aviation industry.
Or need I tell you also about Captain Irene Koki Mutungi who became the first female Boeing 787 Dreamliner pilot – flying high for Kenya Airways.
In Zimbabwe we have our own Chipo Matimba – a very intelligent Air Zimbabwe pilot, very influential and a positive role model for many young women.
Time and space will not allow me to say it all but today I will just tell you a bit more about a ‘tousle- haired’ and rather thin lady called Amelia Earhart.She is probably the most famous female pilot in aviation history, an accolade due both to her aviation career and to her mysterious disappearance.Born on 24 July, 1897, Amelia Earhart displayed an independent style from childhood, including keeping a scrapbook on accomplished women, taking an auto repair course, and attending college (but never graduating).In 1930, after only 15 minutes of instruction, Earhart became the first woman to fly a type of aircraft called an autogyro.
The records she set include:
1922 — Feminine altitude record of 4,267 meters (14,000 feet).
1928 — First woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger in the Fokker F.VII Friendship.
1929 — Female speed record.
1930 — Female speed record.
1931 — First woman to fly an autogyro.
1931 — Autogyro altitude record of 5,612 meters (18,415 feet).
1932 — First woman (and only the second person) to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic. Also first person to cross the Atlantic twice by air. During this 3,260-kilometer (2,026-mile) nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic on May 20-21, 1932, Earhart fought fatigue, a leaky fuel tank, and a cracked manifold that spewed flames out the side of the engine cowling. Ice formed on her airplane’s wings and caused an unstoppable 3,000-foot descent to just above the waves. Realizing she was on a course far north of France, she landed in a farmer’s field in Culmore, near Londonderry, Northern Ireland.After this incident she picked herself up again and went on to set new records:
1932 — First woman to fly solo and nonstop across the United States.
1933 — Reset her transcontinental record.
1935— First person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii, to the U.S. mainland (Oakland, California).
1935 — Speed record between Mexico City and Washington, D.C.
1935 — First person to fly solo from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey.
Earhart even went on to design a line of “functional” women’s clothing, including dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats, initially using her own sewing machine, dress form, and seamstress.She photographed well and modeled her own designs for promotional spreads.
She was truly an inspiration to women, her attitude toward success and failure summed up in the following quote, “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” You are a lady with a dream to fly.Ask yourself this question, “What’s stoping me from flying high?”