Saturday, May 5, 2012

Queen of the skies: High-flying Kate, 25, becomes one of Britain's youngest female airline pilots

From Daily Mail: Queen of the skies: High-flying Kate, 25, becomes one of Britain's youngest female airline pilots
A woman who fell in love with planes as a nine-year-old child when she was invited to sit in a cockpit has become one of Britain's youngest women pilots aged just 25.

Kate Moran's achievements in a male-dominated industry prove she's got substance and style.

Having graduated in Aviation Technology from the University of Leeds, Kate has carved out a career in an industry where fewer than five per cent of pilots are women.

Kate, a pilot for Devon-based airline Flybe, said: 'As far back as I can remember, I have always been interested in flying.

'The turning point was when I was able to sit with the pilots in the flight deck. I was nine years old and the captain asked if I wanted to sit there while the plane landed.'

From that moment on, Kate was single-minded in her pursuit to become a pilot choosing science and mathematics over the arts - 'any subject geared towards a career in flying'.

After graduating from university, Kate struggled to find a job in the midst of the recession. But she successfully applied to Flight Training Europe (FTE) and attended an aviation school in Spain where she also secured a position on the Flybe mentoring programme.

She spent 14 months at flight school getting 800 hours of ground school under her belt and taking on 14 subjects including flight navigation, radio navigation, principals of flight and meteorology.

In order to continuing training, every candidate has to get a pass mark of at least 90 per cent in each exam - something Kate achieved.

At FTE Kate gained her Commercial Pilot's Licence enabling her to fly a small four-seater, single-engine aircraft.

She then moved on to a six-seater twin engine aircraft and then a Q400.

Potential pilots must also gain their instrument rating, to enhance their skills and proficiency to a higher, safer level.

Kate said: 'You need to know the mechanics and principals around how the aircraft works - I know more about my aircraft than my car.'

She recalled: 'The first time I got control of a Q400 was at Preswick when I had to do six take offs and landings.

'The aircraft was empty of passengers and I had to fly it from Edinburgh to Preswick I did the landings and then we flew back. It's an amazing feeling.'

Recently the Mancunian, who moved to Exeter, Devon, after getting a job with Flybe, realised a long-held dream of flying into her home city airport.

'I had this ambition to fly there and I finally got to do that.' she said.

'I'm getting paid to do my hobby - how many people can say that? There has never been a time when I have wanted to do anything else.'

It's an expensive hobby.

Kate is starting her career with £80,000 worth of debt accumulated from paying for the 14-month intensive live-in course at the Spanish flight school and a pilot loan.

She said: 'I guess that money could have been put towards a house and I will to paying it off over a long period. 'However it is all worth it in the end as it setting me up for a lifelong career, so the positives far outweigh the negatives.' As a newly qualified pilot, most of Kate's salary will be eaten up paying for rent and paying off the loan - most loans are payable within seven years. Fortunately, she can expect to be a captain on a Q400 or a first officer on a jet within three years boosting her salary As with any profession, salaries increase with experience. Figures from October 2011 show that a direct entry captain for Flybe can earn up to £82,000 compared to £81,509 with Easyjet and £65,000 with Emirates. The high debt and comparatively low starting salaries mean it's not a career for the not-quite sure. Kate said: 'I've got the aviation bug. It's a lot of hard work training to become a pilot but it's so rewarding in the end.'

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