On April 16, 2016 I posted this picture of me from the flight deck. On July 21st 2016, @instagram reposted it together with my story.

It has never been about me to trying to prove myself being a pilot, it’s about opening doors and showing others that opportunities are for everyone. I know I am very fortunate to be where I am today, but it didn’t come easy, I had to work for it, study, lose contact with friends and until today, after flying commercially for three years, I still pay back the bank every month what I owe them for my pilot training.

I have never felt differently treated in aviation because of my gender, but at the same time I never knew that the option was there for me, I saw the stereotype, a male 50 something with a well trimmed mustache fitting the role of a pilot.

With more than 1.2 million likes and over 20k new followers, I woke up that morning and without exaggeration I can say that it honestly changed everything! All the positive feedback I received, but most importantly the Aviation Community we have through Instagram has opened up doors and access globally, in a way which I never imagined possible.

Everyone that I have met through Instagram has inspired, motivated and taught me something new about life! I hope I can keep growing my ever-evolving list of #instagramconnect friendships.

Below I wanted to share my ten favorite photos from the past year, not because they are killer-selfies but for the thoughts and feelings that each one of them provokes.

 

August 3rd`Thank you all so much for all positive feedback`. It took me a few days to comprehend everything. I could never have imagined that an image on Instagram could have created such an impact! I went from 100k to 200k followers in just a few days, tv and news agencies contacted me to hear my story. I am astonished by the positive feedback I received. Some might still say:  “Why is this still something special, there are many female pilots out there?” and I agree, I am not anything different from any of the others, it has never been about the fact that I’m a woman in aviation, not for me, for me it is all about following your dreams, fighting and pushing yourself, and seizing opportunities. Overcoming obstacles, if it’s in aviation or whatever it might be.

 

 

September 8th`Laugh so hard your stomach cramps, your tears are messing up your mascara and you pee yourself a little … ..`Flying with my favorite captain and friend Mark @hell.flyer is like spending a day with my best friend. He was based at the same base as I was for a year before he got a transfer home to London.

 

 

September 12th A yoga set goal for me, the Mayurasana, Peacock Pose, it took me over a year to learn this pose, but ‘whoever gives up will never know’, and for me it was an achievement, proving that practice does reward in results.

 

 

September 21st My first @gopro family event!  After every GoPro event I’ve been on, I go home with such inspiration, motivation and so much joy. It’s impossible to explain the community and love that goes on behind making these cameras, how enthusiastic and committed everyone at GoPro is! When I was asked to be a part of the GoPro family I thought I was dreaming, I’ve been using their cameras for many years and to get the chance to beta test and share my Gopro content with you is an honor! Here flying with York @iflyheli in his R66 helicopter, I am so grateful for our friendship, you are an amazing person York! In the back Nicolo @humansafari and JC @jcpieri See YouTube video from this event here: (GoPro Hero5 release ) edited by JC. 

 

 

 

January 27th Seated in flight deck with my best friends @mariathepilot! Many think that Maria and I have known each other for forever, but the truth is that we connected via Instagram! Now a day never goes by without us talking to each other, if it’s just a hello or an emoji on messenger or something much bigger, like a crazy adventure in Riga together with our third ‘squad member’, Malin @flymalin we always connect. I don’t know what I would have done without these girls coming into my life! In September, Maria and I will be bridesmaids at Malin’s wedding, I can’t wait to see her marry the love of her life!  

 

 

March 6th The first time my mum visited me in Sicily. After moving to Italy, I really don’t see my family nearly enough and I miss them every day. But that’s part of the ‘pilot-run’ and I’ve always been a bit of a ‘wunderlust’. I left Sweden over 13 years ago when I first moved abroad to Cyprus, where I spent two years. After that I have backpacked more countries than I can remember, I have lived in Spain, Italy, Norway, the UK and the list keeps growing. I have no idea where I will be in a year, anything can happen and I would never take anything for granted.

 

 

March 7th Bali and Gili T with new friends. I would never have met @pete_ohara, @bobbyksa and @tonyadgar if it wasn’t for Instagram. Together with @thesephyr and @thecrazyplatelady we spent 10 days in Bali and Gili Trawangan. New friends for life! (Watch youtube video here Bali together with @thecrazyplatelady) directed by Bobby, edited and filmed by Pete, film Tony). It was my second time to Bali and Gili T, my first time to Indonesia was in 2010, just before I started the pilot training and I packed Thailand and Indonesia on my own. Many people are afraid of doing things alone, I find it peaceful. Thank you @wsutisna for showing us around beautiful Bali.

 

 

May 8th My first experience in a fighter jet and a new addiction was born! The adrenaline and boost this gave me cannot be explained through words! I’m forever grateful for to @migflug for giving us the opportunity to fly the  L39, Albatros and to share this experience together with Malin and Maria. (See full youtube video here Figther Jets with Malin and Maria) Directed by Bobby, filmed and edited by Pete, film Tony, you guys totally ROCK!! 

 

 

July 9th Together with my two favorites in Dijon, France. We teamed up together with @breitling and went on an adventure beyond what I could ever have imagined! From flying fighter jet along with @breitlingjetteam (starstruck)! To skydiving with parachutes, to attending luxurious dinners and wine tasting. Behind the camera is Emma @emeleonora who documented this whole trip and I can not wait to share our vlog with you (link to youtube will come soon)

 

 

  1. I shall save this spot… I have the feeling that my absolute favorite image is still yet to come.

 

Happy Friday and for endless of adventures to come!

xx Maria

Thank you Kirsty @kirstyrwilliams you’re the best!

 

 

336 21st Street Miami Beach, FL, 33139, USA

www.theplymouth.com @theplymouthmiami

 

At the same time as I walked into the lobby I was met with the friendliest smile and the most helpful staff. I arrived five hours before check in and the staff did everything they possible could to find me an available room. It took about half an hour during the time I was given an espresso as I was waiting in the lobby. 

 

The Plymouth Hotel, South Beach is located two blocks from the beach, and walking distance to shopping district Lincoln Road (Tripadvisor Lincoln Road) which has everything you could possibly think of when it comes to shopping and restaurants.


The rooms are Boho-chic, brightly decorated with large panoramic windows and floor to ceiling mirrors. I usually find hotel rooms to lack personality and be rather stiff and sterile, but this was everything but!

The 24 hours a day open swimming pool allows you a cool down in the Miami heat before going to bed or having a cocktail at the pool bar before making your reservation to the famous Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill (BlueRibbonRestaurants.com) located at the hotel, with the best Sushi in Miami!

For breakfast you were given a choice between five different dishes, everything from bagels to cereals and fruit bowls, the portions were not huge but they were generous enough and gave me two 🙂 In addition they had a breakfast menu with more options, but that you had to pay extra for. I am weak for breakfast buffets and I would have loved to see that. In general it was a really nice breakfast and I ask to have mine next to the swimming pool which was never a problem.

All in all, the Plymouth is one of the friendliest and best hotels I’ve ever stayed at! I booked my room through bookings.com and paid $65 a night for one person, it was definitely worth it and next time I go to Miami I can definitely see myself stay here again!

 

Save travels and comfy hotel beds 

xx Maria 

 

 

WhatSUP! It’s almost 40 degrees (104 fahrenheit) outside and there’s nowhere else I rather be but in the water, ideally with Gelato! Discovering new beaches and beautiful places in Sicily with my Stand Up Paddle Board!



I decided to drive to Scopello, I was there last year with work colleagues and remember it as one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was so excited, last year we went there by boat we rented from Castellammare del Golf and today I would take my SUP and spend all day at sea. It was suppose to take me forty minutes but with a little wrong driving here and there and my Google maps not being updated it took me around an hour.

But things don’t always get as planned and it started with the parking, that in my opinion was over priced, 7 euros (!) Which compared to Sweden is nothing for a full day but this is Sicily, where a coffee costs 1 euro and parking is free most of the year. Parked my car, packed my board and started walking the twenty minutes walk from the parking to the beach (in 40 degrees!).

When I arrived at the barriers for entry(!) to the beach, I was told that air mattresses and all kinds of inflatable mattresses, including my SUP, were not allowed. I tried to explain that I was not going to stay at the beach, that I could even inflate it some else where and go into the water where I promised not to disturb anyone, but instead I was badly treated by just a finger and an arm pointing in the direction I came from.

When I got back to parking lot they laughed at me as they were fully aware that I wouldn’t be allowed to have my SUP with me, but without saying anything let me walk 20 minutes in gusting sunshine and full packing. I gave them a little smile and disappointed shrug my shoulders and tried to laugh my disappointment away.

Packed it all back in my car and decided to find another beach, never in my whole life did I think they would charge full price (!) for the barely half hour I was parked there!!

I used Google Maps and found a beach that did not seem to be too far away and thought I’d give it a try. Actually, most of it I felt like going home, sweaty and in some way a bit humiliated, usually in Sicily everybody are so friendly and I’ve been spoiled not used to have anyone talk to me this way, obviously not their fault, they were only doing their job, but I suppose there are different ways in doing so and to run a place in such tourist popular location you loose track and the importance of treating every guest equally important.

I drove to Cala Mazzo di Sciacca five minutes away (Tripadvisor and directions here)  I was met by the world’s nicest parking host who, despite our language barrier, tried to understand when I asked if I was allowed to use my SUP, he laughed and said SI, SI in the friendliest way as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. ´It’s a beach, of course you are allowed to bring your toys´. Meanwhile, as I was inflating my SUP he walked passed gave me thumbs up, I don’t think he had ever seen an inflatable SUP and seemed rather curious about it.


As I’m writing this I’m sitting ten minutes away from the beach, balancing on a small rock in the water eager to write down my feelings for this blog, if I don’t write it down straight away I lose the emotion and it wont be as real, I always keep a `word document´open on my phone (and yes, even if my phone is water resistant I keep it in a waterproof case that my dad gave to me,  he wanted me to be able to enjoy the sea even when on reserve call at work ;)) This is also how I do with most my captions for my Instagram @pilotmaria to keep it as real as possible. 

That host, at Cala Mazzo di Sciacca friendly smile turned my whole mood to the better, the importance of a strangers smile. I have a feeling that this will be one of the best days in a long time!

I thought I paddle to Scopello, to be honest I didn’t really feel like it anymore, founding this new beach just gorgeous, but it was my original plan and I want to show them that even if they did not let me through their stupid beach barrier I can go there anyway!! Haha Rebel!!

All in all, I give a big thumbs up for Cala Mazzo di Sciacca! They have a small restaurant, bar and toilet facilities near the beach, the water is amazing and the staff super friendly. At entrance you will get a menu for the café, good business plan 😉 This is the kind of place I will definitely take my mom to the next time she visits me in Sicily, and guess what, in the end I paid two(!) Euro for a full day parking which is totally worth it, if you ask me.

My SUP is from @supboardsnorway and is of the brand Boga boards. It´s a full body workout at the same time relaxing and during the hot summer months I skip the gym and do this as exercise! www.supboards.no 

 

See full YouTube video from this day here: www.youtube.com/pilotmaria 🙂

xx Maria

It was my second visit to Dijon, the city famous for its mustard, first time was in 2011 when Annie and I during our flight training flew a small two-seater Dimond 20 from Gothenburg, Sweden to Almeria in south of Spain. The DA20 have an endurance of around three hours, so we had to make quit some stops before making it to Spain, Dijon was one of them.

I had just finished my ppl and saw Breitlings jets parked in their hangar. To be back here feel totally surreal. Never would I, back 6 years ago have dreamed that I one day would get the opportunity to meet the team, nevertheless fly with them!! I have to pinch myself in the arm to to know that I’m not dreaming!

 


… I left Palermo early in the morning on the 30th of June boarding Alitalia flight AZ1774 to Rome. In Rome I had 50 minutes to get to my connection flight, final destination Zurich, where I met Emma @emeleonora, Maria @mariathepilot, and Malin @flymalin. An hour later the rest from the @breitling team landed and we took a train together to Dijon in France.

Well in Dijon the adventure could begin and it would come be two days of full schedule craziness, adrenaline, goosebumps and ‘time of my life, that I will never forget kind of days!’

Next morning we left the hotel 8 o’clock sharp! “If you work with watches, you’d better be on time” Andreas said when Maria, Malin, Emma and I arrived just on time and not the ten minutes early that normally is standard Scandinavian style.

Skydiving!! I get goosebumps and butterflies just thinking about it, the hundred of a seconds, when we let go and jumped out of the  airplane, 4000 meters up in the air! Free fall to 1500 meters! It all went by so fast and if I get the chance I would do it all over again without thinking twice.

 

Skydiving has always been on my bucket list! Something I’ve been nervous about trying, but excited at the same time. I still can’t believe I did this! It’s a dream come true and I am forever grateful for getting the chance to do this! Thank you Adrian for taking me safely through the skies (and some clouds oops) at 200 kilometers an hour. Visit swissboogie.ch for your skydiving experience.

When we landed back it was time for lunch and everyone else was already sitting down. Although everything looked delicious I did not dare to eat too much, we were registered to fly the jets after lunch and we all know what happened last time I flew aerobatics hahaha ooops There was one group before us to go on the jets and in the menatime we took a tour over Dijon in the MD 900 Explorer helicopter, before attending saftey briefing with the jet team. Their lead pilot, Jacques Bothelin `Speedy` briefed us about what to expect, how many g´s we were gonna go and in case of an emergancy event. I know I can do four g´s without a problem which is nothing compared to what these guys can do. Today we would do max 4 and I have to admit, after skydiving, helicopter flying and being adrenaline high all day, even four g´s gasve me tunnel vision in the first loop, but I did well for the remaining part of the flight and could not stop smiling or laughing!

This is why we fly, this is real flying! I thank my lucky star for all these opportunities I’ve been given! I still can’t believe just how lucky I am!

 

While writing this, aboard an Alitalia A319 from Zurich to Rome, I have the biggest smile, sitting on a Bravo seat between two guys who has no idea what I’m smiling at and I can’t understand what we’ve just experienced over the last couple of days, it is just too much to take in! Later that evening we ate dinner in the wine district Burgundy, idyllic vineyards and wine that would get any taste buds to explode. Everything, the whole event has been so well organized and I’ve been treated like a princess! Thousand, Thousands of Thanks to Breitling and a special thanks to Andreas and Fredrik from the Nordic team for inviting us. I’ll Never ever forget this! Rainy days when motivation is low, I’ll open my memories from these days and remind myself just how lucky I’m!

 

 

Photos taken by super talented @emeleonora Thank you for joining us on this event and taking such amazing photos and videos!

 

Thank you @kirstywilliams for correcting my grammar 🙂

I left Sicily 6.30, Thursday morning 8th June, almost 24 hours later I finally arrived at South Beach and checked into the beautiful boutique hotel Washington Park Hotel @wphsouthbeach Located just a few blocks from the ocean, free Tuc Tuc ride down to the beach for the really lazy days or free bike rental when you want to explore the city. The atmosphere when arriving a Thursday night was absolutely amazing, a crowd from all ages were having dinner and drinks at the new restaurant Employees Only I would have loved to join but I was way to tired and went straight to bed after a visit at Whole Food a few blocks from the hotel.

 

Day 1 Friday I was so excited to meet up with my friend Emilie @Emiliepix who I know from @Instasgram It felt like we’ve known each other forever and we had so much to talk about! We spent all Friday together. She took me to some of her favorite restaurants in Miami. My favorite being Lilikoi with the friendliest staff and best Organic food in South Beach!
Day 2 I met with friend and photographer www.troybflying.com @troybeflying that I have known through Instagram for more than a year. We spent the day at sea with some friends of Troys boating up Jupiter, and photographed for his new photo project, where he has influencers and models wearing his first fighter pilot helmet owned.

 

 

Day 3! My best friends @flymalin and @mariathepilot flew into Miami! Later that day, @kirstywilliams from Los Angeles and @pete_ohara from Toronto landed and the whole crew was gathered! It would come to be two crazy days ahead of us! But before all planning, shooting and running around we had dinner at SohoBeachHouse and their fish tacos was to die for, so good!!
 

 

Day 4 How to film a whole commercial one day and forget all what sleep is! I will post the result on my Instagram Tuesday 27th of June, hope you will like it, I can´t wait to see the finished result, Pete is editing it right now, so excited! In the evening we had fitting for tomorrow’s shoot with elle.com @elleus together with Carreraworld.com @Carrera

 

 

Day 5 Elle shoot in collaboration with Carrera sunglasses! What an experience, 12:00 Tuesday the 13th we met at execuflight.com hangar at Fort Lauderdale airport. A team of fifteen, producers, art directors, photographers, make up, hair –  it felt completely surreal, but what an experience! Both Malin, Maria and I had so much fun! Obviously we are all new at this and are no models, but the crew was so professional and nice and made us all feel comfortable in our new position. I can not say or show more from this day yet, but I promise to let you know soon as it is published on elle.com

 

Day 6, last day with the crew. Everyone took different flights back home, besides me who was stuck with an ear infections and a no-fly order from the doctors. There are worst places to be stuck in than Miami …. 😉 For breakfast that day we went to juiceandjavasouthbeach.com I had a Salmon – Avocado burger, fruit smoothie and a coffee, it was dream!! So good that I came back the very next day!

 

 

I said goodbye to Malin and Maria and the next day I met up with Dustin @aircrewlife and yet again I thank Instagram for connecting! Left Miami a week later with unforgettable memories and new friendships for life.

 

 

Last, but definitely not least, Thank You knowroaming.com for keeping me connected with the world though my whole stay in Miami! You´re the best!

 

xx Maria
Thank you Kirsty 🙂 @kirstywilliams