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Emily Wood

Pilot at Easyjet

Class of 2010

During her time at school, Emily was in the Air Cadets achieving the rank of Sergeant and being awarded a gliding Scholarship at RAF Syerston. She later became a Civilian instructor with her cadet squadron after graduating.

After graduating from Durham University, Emily worked as a sales assistant at Next whilst she applied for pilot training at CAE Oxford aviation academy. She was accepted and trained for her Commercial Pilot’s Licence from September 2014 to January 2016. Emily was awarded ‘Best in Flight training’ for her course.

The aviation industry suffered during the pandemic and Emily was made redundant in June 2021. However Easyjet have offered her a new contract in Portugal starting in Spring 2022.

What was your most memorable moment as a pupil?

It’s hard to pick a particular moment but I really enjoyed Sixth Form. You felt like you had more freedom to choose what you did with your time, free periods helped you to get on top of any homework or studying, I also really enjoyed volunteering to assist with Maths and Art lessons in the Junior school. The Sixth Form choir was particularly good fun and I loved being in the school production of ‘Pirates of Penzance’ as a goofy policeman!

What have been the biggest challenges in your career? And the most rewarding parts of your job?

The biggest challenge has probably been that there aren’t many women in the aviation business. All throughout training and occasionally in my role now you encounter people who are surprised or slightly prejudiced, believing that ‘women cannot do the job as well as a man’. However, for every negative encounter there have been 100 positive ones and I feel I was treated a little better being the only woman on my training course at Oxford. Most of the comments I get from the passengers are really positive and ‘good for you!’ types, even if they were initially surprised to see a woman up front. 

I love my job, I’m proud of how far I’ve come in quite a short space of time. The training wasn’t easy but it wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting as I was doing something I was passionate about, which made it easier to stay on top of my studies. I feel quite proud that I was awarded ‘best in flight training’ at Oxford as this is a great message to any of the male students that a woman can do the same jobs as men. We’re tested to the same standard on all the flying skills tests so there’s no need for this old-fashioned way of thinking and I believe the industry as a whole is slowly accepting the idea and the need for more female pilots. 

The most rewarding part of the job is when you nail a difficult landing. This may be due to the weather or the type of approach. The Captain will rarely intervene now if I’m doing everything correctly so I know that I have successfully landed by myself (sadly the autopilot is not used for landings!). It’s cheesy but it does make me smile if I get claps or a “well done” from the passengers.

What advice would you give sixth form students at Sheffield Girls’ today?

It’s okay to not know what you want to do as a career! Although I found Psychology really interesting, I went to university mostly for the experience and as a backup for aviation but I had serious doubts if I would be able to fly or if that’s what I would enjoy doing as a job. I remember having moments of not knowing where I would be in the future, especially in my last year of sixth form and again during my third year of university. 

Work hard but also make sure you take time to enjoy yourself as well and I promise things have a way of working themselves out. Don’t waste your exciting years worrying about a future career, especially if you do decide to go to university; this is the place to try out so many new hobbies by joining all the societies you can and making loads of new friends. Good luck!

Emily’s flight training blog is online at http://emilywoodfirstofficer.blogspot.com/ and Emily is willing to speak to any students wanting to know more about the aviation industry (contact Mrs Gardner a.gardner@she.gdst.net for more information).

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