21 Jan CFA Turned Corporate Pilot – Meet Tatiana!
Q: What sparked the interest in aviation for you?
I came from a family of aviators so it was natural for me seek a career in aviation in the first place. I have always had a lot of support from my family but what inspired me the most was watching them reach their own goals. My father is a former Soviet fighter pilot turned corporate captain; my brother is a fighter test pilot, and my little sister is a helicopter pilot. All three of us were inspired by our father, but never in my wildest dreams have I imagined that we would all fly professionally.
Q: How did being a corporate flight attendant help bridge the gap to your transition/training into becoming a corporate Pilot?
Being a corporate flight attendant was an incredible experience and it made the transition less daunting. I had a comprehensive understanding of what the corporate world was like, I developed good communication, CRM, corporate culture, and service skills. I knew exactly what to expect and I came prepared. Over 4 years working as a Corporate Flight Attendant I observed my pilots at work while studying to be a pilot at the same time and I had endless access to the most valuable resources there are – their experience, advice, and supervision. I asked them millions of questions and they were always so happy to help. I am forever grateful for the people I met and friendships that I acquired.
Q: Aviation is a male-dominated industry, yet more and more women are choosing it as their career. What are some of the misconceptions about women in aviation? Have you ever been in an odd situation because of your gender?
It was a long path for women in aviation. It took years and years for women to be accepted in the flight deck and there are still many old misconceptions about female pilots and pilots in general.
It’s a common misconception that pilots are brilliant scientists or mathematicians, and they have to be mechanically inclined, which could possibly be the reason why a majority of women do not consider aviation as a career. As a matter of fact, feminine qualities like good decision making, open communication, team work, CRM, judgment abilities – these are the qualities that make a good pilot.
Another misconception is that women get special treatment and it’s easier for them to land jobs. Female pilots don’t get and most importantly, don’t want any special treatment. Like any other pilot, they have to be qualified for a position and prove themselves among their colleagues, managers, and passengers.
For a female, failure on any level seems to be much more significant in a male dominated industry as it only fuels the existing stereotypes. I think that this fear to fail is especially strong among female pilots mainly due to many archaic ideologies such as “this is a man’s job” etc.
I had a couple of slightly odd situations that my male colleagues would probably not encounter in their careers. One time back when I was a Flight Attendant I had a chat with one of the FBO workers and he told me that he really wanted to become a pilot one day. At that time I already held my commercial pilot license and I told him about it, encouraging him to go for it and telling him how much fun the training was. He was very surprised and then he exclaimed: “If a woman did it I could definitely do it!”
I don’t think that he meant what he had actually said and I didn’t take it personally but it obviously was not what someone who has worked so hard to achieve their dream wanted to hear.
Another time while I was performing the post flight inspection, the owner of the airport came to our airplane and asked what I was doing there. He assumed that I was one of the passengers, and then apologized when I said that I was one of the pilots. We are all guilty of faulty assumptions and in cases like this I just smile and take it easy.
In another little airport, one of the mechanics peeked into the flight deck and when he saw me sitting there he yelled out loud: “Woah never expected to see THAT!”
It was a compliment… right?
Q: What’s the one thing you always pack for every flight? “A healthy snack! In case of an emergency… “
- Tatiana, CFA turned Corporate Pilot
Q: What do you love about your job?
I love that it doesn’t feel like work. Even early wake up calls, long car drives, and endless days, still feel like a part of an adventure. I love that there is always learning involved. You will never meet a pilot who would say: “I know everything!”. And if you do meet one, beware!
Q: What advice would you give to any CFA’s who are interested in becoming a pilot?
I would encourage you to go to the local airport and take a discovery flight! You are already passionate about aviation and flying an airplane yourself could become your new passion, hobby, or career. Use your experience as a CFA to your advantage, build your network, learn as much as you can from the professionals you work with, and never burn bridges – one day you might end up flying with someone who you never expected to see again or you might get a recommendation from someone who enjoyed working with you as Corporate Flight Attendant! Aviation is a small world and it feels like it gets even smaller as I transition from one career to another, from one company to another.