This International Women's Day we're celebrating high-flying women - we chat to Maria Pettersson (@pilotmaria) about her career as a pilot and how she’s finding being a new mum!
Hi Maria, Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family, you’re a new mum aren’t you?
Hi! Yes new mum to baby Alice who was born on November 13th 2020. I am 36 years old, work as an airline pilot and fly mostly in and around Europe. I’m from Sweden but have been living in the UK for about two years now. My partner's name is Tomas, he is originally from Portugal, but has lived in the UK since 2012.
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As a new mum, have you looked to purchase more sustainable organic items for your baby, and is this an important factor for you in all your purchases?
I definitely choose sustainable and organic items when available. I think it becomes more and more important for everyone when choosing what to buy.
Tell us about your career as a pilot, did you always want to be one?
I’ve been flying commercially since 2014. I didn't know that I wanted to become a pilot until I was 24. Before that I had travelled, backpacked a lot and I wanted to do a job where I could keep travelling. I never thought being a pilot would be an option for me, not fitting the typical stereotype, but I didn't let that stop me.
What do you most enjoy about flying?
The view. Imagine a morning flight, departure before sunrise, you reach cruise level just as the sun is rising and have your morning coffee and breakfast to this amazing view.
How do you find working in what is traditionally viewed as a male dominated industry?
It’s nothing I’ve really paid much attention to. All my male colleagues have made me feel welcome and that I am part of the team.
Are you able to play music in the cockpit?
Technically you could play music in the flight deck but it’s nothing that we would do as it could interfere with how well we hear radio calls from the ground station, Air Traffic Controllers that gives us out clearances.
Have you ever experienced a passenger giving birth on a flight? If a baby is born onboard, which country’s citizenship would they receive?
I haven't. If it would happen we would try to land as soon as possible so the mum and newborn could get the proper help that they need. Regarding citizenship I think it would depend on the country and what regulations they have. Funny enough Tomas and I weren't sure what citizenship Alice has when she was born, as she was born in England to Portuguese and Swedish parents.
Do you have a favourite airport?
Punta Raisi, Palermo, Sicily.
Where have been your favourite destinations to fly to around the world?
I was based with the company and few from Palermo in Sicily for almost two years and even if I have done that landing more than hundred times, flying into Palermo at sunset is still one of the prettiest landings I’ve ever done.
Have you ever had an in-air emergency? How do you manage to keep your cool if these situations arise?
We had a medical emergency once with a passenger having a suspected heart attack. There was never a matter of life or death but we chose to land as soon as we could and diverted to the nearest airport. In situations like these you let the controllers that you speak with on the radio know about the situation so that they can arrange with an ambulance to meet us as soon as possible upon landing.
How do you juggle a baby and a career in aviation?
I am lucky in a way that the company that I fly for don’t schedule us for lay-overs. So for me it will be similar to anyone with a nine to five job. I will go to work in the morning and arrive back home in the afternoon. Not all companies have this luxury and who knows what will happen in the future. But for now I am calm that I can still spend time with Alice and not be away from her for too long.
How are you coping with the change in routine?
I think I cope pretty well with that. I am not a very "routined" person, I take each day as they arise and don’t stress if everything doesn't go according to ‘routine’.
Where will be the first place you take little Alice on a plane?
Hopefully Sweden or Portugal to see her grandparents. It has been a long time now with the pandemic and cancelled flights. I haven't been to Sweden since November 2019.
Do you see yourself as a role model for young women? Do you have any advice for aspiring young pilots?
I would like to be a role model for young women. I hope that they look at me and think ‘If she did it, so can I’! The training can be overwhelming but don't give up.
Thanks for chatting to us, Maria!
A treat for high-flying women!
This week we’re celebrating International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day with the high-flying women in our lives! As a little treat for you, our lovely Frugi customers, we’ve partnered up with Don’t Buy Her Flowers to give you the chance to win a Mother’s Day Package worth £85!
This package includes a selection of their most popular products, from gin and chocolate to some relaxing tealights and hand cream – it is all there and all for her. If you’d like to be in with a chance to win, simply fill out the form below! This giveaway ends midnight 14th March and is open to UK entrants only. Full Terms and Conditions can be found here.
Don’t forget Mother’s Day on 14th March! Whether you're celebrating your mum, step-mum, grandma, sister, auntie, best friend or other motherly figure that you hold dear...
We’ve created these cute cards which can be printed out and coloured in, ready to give to the wonderful women in your life! Click here to download!