Sharelle is flying high

HIGH FLYER: Sharelle Quinn wants more females to become pilots. The Scarborough women has been flying for Qantas since 1984. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIScarborough’s pioneeringpilotSharelle Quinn wants more women to follow her flight path.
Nanjing Night Net

Ms Quinn was just 32-years-old when she became the first female captain for Qantas in 1992.

More than 20 years later she is still flying high but would love to seemore females in the cockpit.

The experienced pilot’s viewscomehot on the heels of those made by Boeing Flight Services vice-president Sherry Carbary.

Ms Carbary told Fairfax Mediaairlines in the Asia-Pacific region should increase their focus on training and hiring female pilots as they look to fill an expected 226,000 new flight-deck roles in the next 20 years.

‘’When we are looking for a demographic that can help fill the pipeline for future pilots and technicians, I think we should think a lot more about women and what they can bring,’’she said.

Of the 226,000 new pilot roles projected in the 2015 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, only 5 per cent are in the Oceania region, including Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, while nearly half will be in China.

In Australia only 4.5 per cent of Qantas pilots are female, but in its regional arm, QantasLink, 11 per cent are female, up from 9 per cent just 18 months ago.

Ms Quinn said she would love to see more girls join her at the airline.

‘’I guess I was a bit of a pioneer [when I became a pilot], even though I don’t think that way,’’ she said.

While women have made inroads into other male bastions such as medicine and engineering, female commercial pilots are still very much the minority.

Ms Quinn is at a loss to explain why this is the case.

‘’It could be too expensive but I would encourage women to never give up on your dreams. If you want to be a pilot do everything in your power to become one,’’ she said.

‘’I don’t think the stereotype is as bad nowadays for women. Back then you didn’t even have lady bus drivers.’’

The 55-year-old knows what it takes to follow through on her dreams.

Ms Quinn’s passion for flying first surfaced at age 10 when shefinished secondin a Qantas stamp competition.

‘’The reason I came second is because I spelt Qantas with a u,’’ she said.

‘’I won a flight in the back seat of a light plane to Bankstown airport. The first prize girl got the front seat and I hated that. I hated being in the back seat. I think that motivated me to become a pilot.’’

When the childhood yearning to fly returned in her late teenage years, Ms Quinn took on as many part-time jobs as she could to save money for flying lessons.

‘’I did everything from strawberry picking to making traffic lights and winding old cassettes. I was determined to save for lessons,’’ she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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