I remember growing up in Sri Lanka and being able to hear about travelling and airplanes from my dad, who worked in the travel industry based at Colombo Airport. I was desperate to part of the world of aviation and spent much of my childhood days by the beach dreaming about flying the vast oceans.
Learning to fly was part of a long journey for me. Flying lessons were not something we could afford so I saved for a number of years to have enough money together to do my PPL within a year. I’m so glad I did – I appreciate even more than I thought I ever would! I had a trial lesson at Duxford in 201, not long after my son was born, and I remember taking off thinking I can’t wait to do this on my own. I was mesmerised by the landing too! It was a Cessna 152 and the photo still sits on my desk! It then took another 4 years before I started my training. I started at the end of January 2014 at Flight Training London based at Elstree. Having looked around a few schools I knew this was the place for me. I don’t know that I ever believed I could learn to fly – but the instructors I met there made me believe from day one that I could. And I was sold on the idea that I could actually get my licence after all. I flew as much as could around my full time job and having family commitments too. It all started with getting to know the effects of the controls, the local area, the circuit around the aerodrome and of course learning to land safely. I remember spending lots of time studying for the 9 exams and doing a lot of armchair flying before my solo navigation flights. My instructor certainly had more confidence in me than I did – I refused to go solo for a few weeks and finally soloed when I felt confident enough that I was going to be ok. I think everyone feels the same on their first solo – a mix of excitement, adrenalin and no doubt a little bit of fear. I felt all of those – but also felt the biggest sense of adventure. I didn’t fly very far – pretty much a rectangle around the airfield on a pretty calm day. But I knew from the moment I left the ground all alone in a little airplane that there was no turning back!
It’s an amazing feeling to have my private pilots licence after dreaming about it for so long. This is one of the reasons I wanted to set up the Aviatrix Project – to provide lots of opportunities for women and girls who want to take to the skies and to show them that there is always a way of achieving that dream. I’m now working on my commercial licence so watch his space!