Catching Up With Pilot Fiona

Last time we spoke, you shared that you had recently started instructing at ATP Flight School. How has your pilot journey evolved since then?

I’m still an instructor with ATP but have been fortunate enough to receive upgrades within the company and gained valuable experience while doing so! I never anticipated learning so much during this part of my career. I now get to fly all of the makes and models we have in our fleet while conducting evaluations and mock check rides as the lead flight instructor. It’s an awesome opportunity to fly with new students and see the next generations of pilots!

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your career, if at all?

COVID-19 sort of kick started my desire for change and pushed me to transfer from Mesa, Arizona to Jacksonville, Florida to continue instructing. I have been lucky enough to continue flying throughout the pandemic but at a lesser pace than before. One reason I relocated was the weather, and another was to keep things fresh and switch up my comfort level — I didn’t want to start getting complacent. I had initially transferred as a normal instructor, and after a short time in Jacksonville, I was offered the role of multi-engine instructor, and then shortly after, the promotion to lead instructor happened as well!

According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, just 5% of pilots are women. With that said, you are paving the way for women in aviation! Has that affected your experience as a pilot?

I wish I could say being a female pilot isn’t any different than being a male pilot, but unfortunately prejudices still exist. If anything, this has pushed me to be an even better pilot. Overall, these encounters are few and far between and in the instances they do happen, my male peers stick up for me. I am happy to see more and more female faces around the training center and I am hopeful we can bring that percentage higher!

What is your all-time favorite airport landing?

My favorite place I’ve landed so far would have to be Sedona, Arizona. I rented a plane with friends and landed at the USS Sedona, an appropriately nicknamed airport for it’s plateau-like characteristics. Another favorite, although we didn’t land, is the low approach over the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility!

You can’t see her in this photo, but that’s Fiona up in the air, flying her favorite aircraft: the Piper Seminole!

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown? Do you have a dream one that you hope to fly someday?

My current favorite aircraft I’ve flown would have to be the Piper Seminole! It’s been very fun to fly a light twin around the Florida coast. I would love at some point in my life to get to go up in a P-51 Mustang! And as far as planes I aim to fly for my career, I’d say any plane at a major airline is the goal.

What are you most looking forward to as the air travel industry picks back up?

I can’t wait to go visit places with my friends and see my family! My Grandpa lives in Scotland, which is one of my most favorite places to go, so I’m eagerly waiting for their restrictions to lift. I also can’t wait to go on trips with my friends, we already have a few planned for this fall! I’ll be going to the Florida Keys and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To continue following Fiona along on her pilot adventures, you can find her on Instagram as @pilotfiona. If you’re a pilot or flight crew member, we also want to hear your story!

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