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!

 

 

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 🙂

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