First female Vietnamese pilot

(VOV) - Flying aircraft is universally regarded as a challenging career because of its strict professional standards and requirements. Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, however, has already earned admirers through her boundless passion.

Turning point

Thuy graduated from the Hanoi University of Economics in 2004. Her job search was initially motivated by the need to earn a living and the desire to find a husband.

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She did not think that several years later she would be among 108 Vietnamese pilots at Vietnam Airlines’ (VNA) Flying Training Centre, one of only two women.

“At first I looked for a job at several companies to gather experience and hone real-life skills. I by chance read an advertisement in a local newspaper and found that Vietnam Airlines was recruiting female pilots. Weighing up the pros and cons, I decided to apply for the vacancy.”

Thuy said she dreamed of donning a pilot uniform, flying to various destinations, and meeting with people from different cultures.

She was recruited by Vietnam Airlines to train in HCM City after passing five rounds of tests. Her path to fulfilling her much anticipated dream began.

Between 2005 and 2006 Thuy trained at VNA’s Flying Training Centre together with seven other females among a total of more than 100 pilots. She studied general subjects on aviation, physical training and English.

After the course, she took tests designed by experts from the French Institute for Aviation Safety, and was one of the two female candidates selected to train in France for two years.

Under pressure

Thuy said she had a great experience in France.

“Studying in France was so intense that I sometimes felt like giving up hope. Immediate consolations from my parents and friends helped me overcome my difficulties.”

In addition, the Hanoi-born woman had to face the psychological pressure of living far from family.

Thuy rose to the challenge finishing the course and returning to fly for Vietnam Airlines as deputy captain on October 20, 2008. The occasion coincides with Vietnamese Women’s Day.

She said she has flown for nearly 2,400 hours, 600 hours short of the minimum flight time for promotion to captain.

She has never forgotten her first solo flight.

“After flying several rounds with the French supervisor, he asked me if I could fly alone. I replied yes.”

The supervisor signed the itinerary, allowing Thuy to conduct a solo flight.

“Flying alone is a milestone in a pilot’s career, as it proves the pilot has proper grasp of flying procedures, controlling the plane and making decisions.”

According to Thuy, women who want to pursue this career inevitably encounter and must overcome numerous non-technical difficulties.

“Female pilots need to prove that they can do the work as well as men, or even better. Women must also balance the responsibilities of a mother and wife.”

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Family affairs

Besides travelling the length and breadth of Vietnam, Thuy is also adept at taking care of her family affairs. She married a Vietnam Airlines pilot and had a baby.

“My husband and I met each other during a course at Vietnam Airlines’ Flying Training Centre. When I was studying in France, he was studying in Australia, and we both kept in touch and supported each other.

“We had known each other long before deciding to marry, so both families were aware we would pursue our careers. My husband’s parents even did not pressure me in any way and wished us a happy life.”

Thuy recalled missing her career while performing office work during her pregnancy. But watching the baby grow every day makes her happy.

“I recognise the importance of my home affairs. I am willing to take care of the housework and the baby. However, our work necessitates a cool head before every flight, and my husband and I support each other to make ourselves comfortable.”

Thuy’s dream has come true, and Vietnam Airlines passengers will probably hear her reassuring voice later this year in her new role - Captain of the flight.