Through my Instagram account @pilotmaria, I often times make it look like the sky is always blue, roses are red, and the sun is always shining. That has not always been the truth. Here is my honest journey about the pilot profession and how I came to fly 737 as my first commercial jet with 189 passengers on board.

 

 

Flying an airplane requires dedication, patience and sacrifice. During the time I studied to become pilot, I met no one and my social life took a hard hit. Today, I have a handful of close friends, who have always been there for me, even if it sometimes takes months or even years between seeing each other, we know we’re always there for each other. As a pilot you can be away days or even weeks depending on company schedule, long or short haul etc.

 

 

I took my final exam for my ATPL in April 2010 and I was ready to take the aviation market by storm! Nothing could stop me at this point. But there was nothing but echo, I sent out job applications to what felt like every airline company out there, for God’s sake I would even offer myself to work for free, only to get flying hours! It’s expensive to fly privately and after paying 60k Euro for my pilot training, it was not just the stress that I did not get a job but also the stress that the bank wanted to get back the money I took a loan out for. Even after flying commercially for three years the bank still takes 1500 euros from me every month to pay back what I owe them.

 

 

I was lucky, for me it took “only” two years to get a job. I have friends who it took over ten years before they got their first job as a pilot! And then September 11, 2001 happened… Boeing and Airbus orders were canceled and airlines had to furlough their employees. It was an incredibly difficult time for the aviation industry and it took years for things to normalize. Some might say the industry still may not be back to where it once was.

 

 

During the two years applying for pilot jobs, I committed  myself to staying current and focused in aviation… Networking was one thing, but I figured any foot in the aviation door was a step in the right direction… So I worked as airport security, TSA in my home country, Sweden for one year, and as a crew planner, where I handled administrative duties for another airline. Planned monthly schedules, holidays, and day off requests from pilots. Every week when we released the new schedule, my inbox filled with at least 200 emails from pilots who were not happy with the routes they received or times they worked. Quiet to myself, I used to think: “but you have a job as a pilot, stop complaining I would do what you do for nothing…” Never did I think I too one day would complain to someone else when I don’t get the days off I requested.

 

 

I have to pinch my arm and think back on the days when I sat in the office and dreamed of sitting where the pilots sat. The world’s most beautiful office, 38,000 feet a coffee in my hand and the whole world at my feet.

It’s a perfect job and I could not imagine myself doing anything else, but for those who dream of becoming a pilot and believe that you will explore the whole world and have screaming girls, like Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Catch me if you can’ after you as soon as you put the stripes on, you’ll have to think again. It’s not like that anymore and you will have to work hard for it! Most of the times when you land for a layover you are too tired to do anything. The 12 hours you have in Bogota, New York or any other dream destination you will most likely go back to your hotel room and sleep, order room service and watch tv.

 


The trips I make, the movies I share on Instagram are not filmed during a 24 hour layover in a paradise resort. Most trips I do, I do on my free time. It is thanks to Instagram and my social channels I can afford to do so, not thanks to free airline tickets and a juicy pilot salary. The pilot salary for the company I work for is definitely not bad, but I’m a contracted pilot which means I’m not employed by the company but rather hired for a service. They give me a salary every month and from that salary I have to put away money for my pension, pay healthcare, insurance, loss of license and everything from my own meals aboard to my uniform. I wouldn’t change a thing, I’m quite okay taking my own responsibility but it might not be something that suits everyone.

 

 

I hope my story inspires you because even though it takes a lot of work, I wouldn’t change it for anything– let’s be honest though, pilots are the best people at complaining. You will always find someone saying “it’s not what it used to be” and although that might be true since things change, at the end of the day, it’s still the best gig around in my opinion and I just want to share that with you and bring more positivity to aviation. While of course I would never share anything that could jeopardize safety, I want to show you all what’s behind that secret door that nowadays has to be closed, locked and bullet proof. It´s not a secret how you start an engine, you can learn that from a computer game. And I hope for some of you that are scared of flying that it might help to see someone being healthy, positive and happy about their job, aviation has already had too many hits, it’s about time we show why it’s the safest way to go from A to B and never the less the prettiest way – that view from 38.000 feet.

xx Maria

 

Thank you Dustin @aircrewlife and Emilie @emiliepix for inspiration, feedback and correcting my grammar 😉 

@bobbyksa @pete_ohara @tonyedgar @flymalin @mariathepilot @pilotmaria

 

xx Maria

 

For many it´s the lifestyle and a fancy uniform that might appeal, for me it was the travel and the chance to explore our world, and the view, the view is amazing!

I’ve always been the typical; “see the world without thinking too much about tomorrow’s worries, I´ll deal with that some other time”

It was 2010 and I just came home from a six month backpacking trip in South America, back then I lived in Oslo, Norway and shared an apartment with my friend Anna. It was December, gray, slush and darkness was everyday life and all I wanted to do was to continue traveling and seeing new places. What job can I have to do this forever? Pilot!! It struck me. Pilots are the ones who always take me to my destinations, they have to see lots of new places all the time, traveling is basically their job!

Aviation has always fascinated me, and without deliberately doing so, my dad introduced me to my avgeek heart. He used to tell me why airplane lift their nose, why and how they can fly, that my first flight ever was a 20-minute trip around my home town Gothenburg, Sweden and the Captain was a woman. Without knowing, all these little occasions had a huge impact in my future career choice.

When the thought of me being a pilots struck me it was like taking a heavy stone from my chest, put it aside and make reality of my dream!

The first thing I did was to Google “How to become a pilot” I found a school in Gothenburg, where I from no experience at all I could start with my PPL and finish as a commercial pilot. Three weeks later I went on their recruitment day! The rest you know 🙂  Read more about my journey here:  “My route to the right hand seat”

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Lots of Love

Maria

Growing up my two best friends were twins and my niece and nephew are twins, I seem to have been around twins my whole life and I always wanted to have my own identical sister that could do things for me that I didn’t feel like doing and vice versa. I have a sister, Sandra she is three years older than I am and she didn’t really feel like doing all the things her little sister asked her to do, neither are we that alike that we could get away with it, presenting we are twins.

Since starting Instagram and having my best friend and soul sister on Instagram as @mariathepilot people constantly keep mixing us up. Maria is @mariathepilot and I am @pilotmaria, we are both have blond hair, we´re Swedish with the same profession. We are airline pilots and our personalities are fairly similar. I understand why people who don´t know us, keep getting us mixed up. I keep getting emails and messages asking if I have any travel tips for Tenerife. I don’t live in Tenerife and when I go there I am a tourist as anyone else hahaha Maria lives there, and I live in Sicily. 

I don’t mind at all that people thinking that I am Maria. She is beautiful, smart and an amazing person, if anything I take it as a great compliment!! 🙂Sometimes, when ground staff at airports we both fly to come over and show pictures of Maria asking if it’s me, I simply answer no and smile, not telling them that it is two of us, neither showing them my account. It cracks me up every time, to see how confused they get, I know it’s mean of me, but it makes me giggle every time, I simply can’t resist!

So finally I got myself a twin sister who can cover for me, Maria, fancy an early shift at work for me tomorrow 🙂To confuse it even further we have our third soul sister @flymalin  she is Swedish and an airline pilot too! I love you both to bits and couldn’t imagine a life without you! Best friends forever!! Together we are ThePilotGirls, the “Swedish Flight Mafia”

 

 

x Maria, the other Maria, pilotmaria 

@flymalin @mariathepilot @pilotmaria

My medical examination is coming up and hopefully I have stayed healthy enough since last year so that I can retain it. I like to believe that I have a pretty healthy lifestyle, I exercise and try to eat as clean as I can, with the odd cheat days thrown into the mix! Lately it’s been one too many cheat days and I was worried that it would perhaps show on my results!

I carry out my medical in Sweden at the same center that I always go to, and I know the routine by heart:

“Hi, how are you, how have you been since last year? How many flight hours have you flown etc etc”

Every year we get our heart, lungs, blood pressure, bloods, eyes and hearing checked. That is the routine check-up, in addition every second year we do an EKG and audio-gram. This year was the easy one for me, as I only needed to do the basic tests.

First they check the heart for anything differences, they check my sound rhythm to ensure that my pulse is normal and regular, then the lungs for an even sound, ensuring that there is no hissing noise. After that they test my eyes, I always want to impress by trying to read the bottom line, I have eyesight 1.5. Flying commercially it’s enough with 1.0, and you can correct it with glasses or contact lenses (here in Europe and under EASA regulations, it might differ with other regulations, flying commercially, civil or military). You have to be able to note differences between colors, you can not be colorblind, and unfortunately it’s not uncommon that young students with a dream to become an airline pilot go for their examination and early on get the diagnosis that they are colorblind and will never be able to fly commercially. I wish there was something we could do about this, but unfortunately, for safety and ability to use the instruments and for map reading, strong eyesight is imperative. We don’t really carry out map reading in the Jet, but you do have to do that for your flight training.

For the hearing part, on this basic check that I did this year, you only need to be able to hear and have a normal conversation at two meters distance, with your back against each other. For my next check I will have to do a more formal examination where you get to hear different beeps in different pitches, high and low and let the examiner know that you can clearly hear each beep.

I am pleased to say following my medical that everything went well and I´ll be back at the same time next year. I am happy for you to ask me about this process further if you wish, but unfortunately I won´t be able to answer all of your questions, since I don´t have the right formal education or qualification for all answers. If you have questions regarding the medical procedure in more detail you can get a medical Class 1, I would recommend you to my good friend “Mr Google” 😉 type in “Medical Class 1 Aviation” and the city you live closest to and you should receive results of somewhere in your vicinity, where you can get yourself checked.

All the best aviators!
Healthy flying!

x Maria