Commercial Pilot flies the flag for females in aviation on International Women’s Day
For International Women’s Day, one of Scotland’s leading flight schools has shone a light on a recent graduate who has been flying high as a commercial pilot.
Rachel Gilmour, 24, has graduated from Tayside Aviation with a BSc (Hons) in Professional Aviation Pilot Practice and is now a fully qualified commercial pilot working with Loganair, taking the helm on flights from Aberdeen to all over the UK and into Europe.
As someone who has wanted to be a pilot since she was a young girl, Rachel is fulfilling a dream that’s been years in the making. Growing up in Largs, Rachel was inspired by her dad, who had also dreamed of being a pilot, but poor eyesight ruled him out of pursuing a career in aviation.
When she was 17, Rachel knew she wanted to find a way to train to be a pilot in Scotland. When her dad took her to a careers fair at Gatwick, she discovered Tayside Aviation which proved to be the perfect fit. Rachel said:
“I never really had a Plan B beyond being a pilot. I wanted to be a pilot and that was that! We went for a tour at Tayside Aviation, and I just loved it. The idea of a school where everything was in one place really appealed to me.”
Since her visit in 2015, Rachel hasn’t looked back, but it hasn’t always been easy being a female pilot in what has been, and still is, a male dominated industry.
“There were actually five girls who started the course at Tayside Aviation with me, and maybe 20 boys, which is probably more girls than people would expect which was great, but, inevitably, there’s been the odd comment or surprise from people that I am a commercial pilot,” says Rachel.
“It’s mainly older people. I think the older generation perhaps still don’t think that women should be doing this and probably at my age as well. People don’t expect to see a woman in her twenties doing what I do.”
While the combination of her age and gender can be a challenge for other people to understand, it’s not something that would ever stop Rachel doing what she loves.
“Sometimes when I walk through the airport, I’ll see people looking at me because they probably haven’t seen a female pilot before. I’ve worked so hard that I don’t let things like that bother me and I’ve learned to be resilient. Being a pilot is a really cool thing to do and I’m all for more girls being in the industry.”
A lack of female role models and mentors has long been an issue facing the aviation sector, but pilots like Rachel are helping to inspire other females showing that its accessible regardless of gender.
Encouraging more females into the aviation industry is something Tayside Aviation are equally passionate about. Last year, the Dundee-based school partnered with Celtic FC Women’s team to promote gender diversity across both sectors.
Tony Banks, Chairman of Tayside Aviation, said:
“On International Women’s Day, it’s more important than ever to highlight fantastic success stories, like Rachel’s, that fly the flag for women working in the aviation sector. However, more needs to be done to promote gender equality in the aviation sector, and we hope Rachel’s story will inspire some more women into the industry.”
For any women considering a career in aviation Rachel’s advice is to go for it and seek advice from other people who have done it. Rachel added:
“If it’s what you want to do, just push through and go for it because, once you come out the other side and become a pilot, it’s definitely worth it. There’s no such thing as a ‘man’s job’. If you work hard, you can do anything you want.”