KUALA LUMPUR: Four Malaysians have become the first female pilots for their country’s national carrier, Malaysia Airlines, which has 927 pilots.
Pearl Mak, the airline’s first female captain, told Arab News that it felt like a solitary effort to “break into this male-dominated profession.”
But she said she persevered because “all I wanted was to fly, and I wanted to fly a jet aircraft, and it had to be a Boeing 747. That was my goal.”
She added: “Financially, I supported myself in getting my pilot license. That was a huge challenge for me as I had a limited budget to complete the course.”
She said: “It’s an honor to serve my national carrier, and most importantly I didn’t give up on that dream.”
She added: “Some airlines around the world are now more receptive to having female pilots. Overall, however, the aviation industry still has a long way to go in that regard.”
Second Officer Hooi Wen Foo, one of the four female pilots, said her dad inspired her to fulfil her dream.
“He really inspired me with all his stories about flying,” she told Arab News, adding that it was also his dream to become a pilot when he was young. “That dream rubbed off on me.”
Becoming a pilot was no easy task, she said. “Aviation being such a male-dominated industry, I did have a couple of setbacks mentally. One must be mentally tough and know their dreams and goals,” she added, thanking her male colleagues at Malaysia Airlines for their support.
“The more women who know about this opportunity, the better. In this modern age, gender shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone to achieve their dreams.”
MalaIn 2017, 3 percent of the 130,000 pilots worldwide were women, according to the International Society of Women Pilots. Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia has 55 female pilots and a female CEO.