Female captain passionately conquering the skies

February 19, 2024 - 08:34
Having been a pilot for nearly 10 years, the female captain's most memorable moments are the rescue flights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thư in the airplane cockpit. — Photos thanhnien.vn

HÀ NỘI — With nearly a decade of experience as a pilot, 31-year-old Vân Ngọc Anh Thư finds herself increasingly captivated by her profession, drawn to its unique experiences.

At the age of 15, inspired by a news article about Vietnam Airlines' first female captain, she began to dream of becoming a pilot.

After graduating from high school, Thư pleaded with her parents to let her pursue pilot training, but they objected because no one in her family had ever been in that industry and they feared the challenges of aviation for their daughter.

Reluctantly, Thư enrolled in a degree programme in Economics and Law.

However, her persistent dream of conquering the skies drove her to secretly apply for pilot training while in her first year of university.

She only informed her family after she was accepted into the aviation industry.

Following three months of military training in Nha Trang, Thư embarked on a year-long training journey in the United States and returned home for an additional six months of specialised training in Việt Nam.

The female captain said that this job requires good health, proficiency in English, and the application of knowledge from natural science subjects during training.

Fortunately, Thư overcame every challenge during her studies.

She still vividly recalls the emotions she felt when she first took control of the aircraft during her initial training flight in 2013. Despite having an instructor sitting next to her, her heart raced nervously, and she burst into tears as her dream became a reality.

In 2015, Anh Thư embarked on commercial flights for Vietnam Airlines.

While passengers on the aircraft could only see the sky through a small window, Thư could see the expanse of sky from the cockpit. She felt so small amidst the vast sky, and the more she experienced it, the more she realised how miraculous this job truly was.

"Although I'm still at the controls, having passengers seated behind me as we soar over the Vietnamese skies adds an extra magic," Thư told Thanh Niên (Youth) newspaper.

"The control buttons in the cockpit, the clouds passing by the windows, the crew, the airport... all of them evoke a sense of excitement in me. I know I have chosen the right passion."

Having been a pilot for nearly 10 years, the female captain's most memorable moments are the rescue flights during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that time, everyone was dressed in protective gear, fully covered, but looking into their eyes, Thư could feel the joy of those special passengers at being able to return home despite difficult circumstances.

Following her tenure with Vietnam Airlines, Thư transitioned to Pacific Airlines under the coordination of the company.

Just like her fellow aviators, she had her sights set on the coveted left seat - the captain's seat.

It was a dream she realised two years ago, having fulfilled the demanding criteria of flight hours, supervision and the entire work process.

Captain Thư (left) with her colleagues.

Thư's journey to become a captain is a testament to her dedication and passion for aviation.

"Sitting in the cockpit as a first officer, I could ask the captain about anything I didn't know how to handle. But when I sit in the left seat, the captain's seat, I have to solve every issue by myself.

"On my first official day as a captain, I felt nervous, under pressure. The more afraid I was, the more determined I became... and that's how everything smoothly passed," said Thư.

She said that on the flight, both the captain and the first officer have the right to express their opinions on anything related to flight safety, but the ultimate responsibility still lies with the captain, adding that in some cases, the captain must make decisions in a second.

Starting her career, she knew that being a pilot was a profession dominated by men.

Nowadays, gender is no longer a barrier in this industry, so if women have dreams, they should set their determination to achieve them, Thư said.

'If they can do it, so can I,' the young woman sets her goals and diligently strives for them.

Thư recalls that when she first entered the profession, she received a lot of support from male instructors and colleagues during her training flights until she flew solo.

"My decisiveness and strength made many male colleagues forget that I am a woman," she said.

"Thư is an excellent, passionate, meticulous and detail-oriented female captain. Flying with her, I have learned a lot. Whether male or female, as pilots, we all have to trust each other to coordinate on safe flights," said first officer Nguyễn Thanh Tùng.

Except for the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thư has worked every Tết holiday.

Welcoming the new year with the flight crew and passengers in the sky is also a memorable part of this job, she said.

"During Tết, passengers are always excited to return home to welcome the new year with their families. It brings joy and encouragement to my profession during the Tết holiday."

Looking back on nearly 10 years as a pilot, Thư still finds this job fascinating because each flight is unique.

Even though the departure and destination may be the same, every flight differs due to weather conditions, people and different flight crews, making the job never boring. This diversity has nurtured her passion over the years. — VNS