Flying as a Career Is a Great and Unique Career - Maria Fagerstrom

Success is when you’ve found a job you enjoy doing, and eager to learn and improve on the skills required to become better at it, and you do so with joy.

1. Tell us about your journey?

I was 18 years old when I applied for the government-funded aviation school in Sweden, and after many tests, psychological evaluations, screening, and exams, I was fortunate enough to get accepted. I combined my pilot studies with studying a natural science program, and when I was 20 years old I graduated having my Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

In 2015 I moved away from Sweden to be based in Spain and has since been working as a first officer and logged 3000+ hours flying the Boeing 737-800NG.

I’m currently living in Alicante with my partner Viktor Fors, who also happens to be a commercial pilot working for the same airline company as a first officer.

2. What qualities make a good pilot and what should one know about this profession?

Here are 3 qualities I think are important - 
  • The ability to stay calm - simple put: don’t panic. Because too much stress clouds our judgment. Flight training is intense and intended to sort out the students that can’t execute tasks under stress.
  • Mentality. A pilot should be confident, but not over-confident. It’s a balance, having the right attitude and self-discipline when dealing with challenging situations that come with the job. ⠀
  • Leadership - being a pilot is not all mathematical and technical. You also have to think creatively and adapt to any situation. Having leadership qualities also means you’re able to listen, communicate, and work well as part of a team. Many of the personality traits and skills required to become a pilot you might already have, but if you don’t, you can always learn during flight training.

3. From which flying school you completed your training? Would you recommend any flying schools?

My path to becoming a pilot was a mix of integrated and modular courses. I did my commercial pilot license while I was in high school on a government sponsorship at OSM Aviation Academy, a well known and recommended flight school recognized worldwide for its good reputation.

After I had my CPL, I finished the rest of the licenses while working part-time as a simulator pilot to save up money for the flying lessons - in total it took me more or less 4 years to finish everything. The pilot training can look very different depending on what situation you’re in. If you want, there are integrated courses that will take you from zero experience to airline-ready-pilot in one year!

4. What's the best piece of flying advice given to you?

Early in my training to become a pilot, I was told that a good pilot is like a duck in the water. Looking confident and calm on the surface, but constantly moving its feet under the water. 
I like this metaphor and comparing it to my job as a pilot. 

Flying as a profession is something you can’t really master, you’re constantly learning, developing, and growing - if you’re up for it. There’s always room for improvement, something you could prepare mentally for, planning, and building resilience for what may come, and that will give you an advantage if something would go wrong. It’s what I enjoy the most about this job, there will always be something to finesse.

5. What advice would you pass on to someone who wants to be a pilot?

Flying as a career is a great and unique career, and it suits both genders equally well. However, it is an expensive education and a dynamic industry that’s constantly changing - so do your research before you invest your time, money, and energy. But I can assure you it’s worth it the day when you get your own wings.

6. What does success look like to you in this job?

Success is when you’ve found a job you enjoy doing, and eager to learn and improve on the skills required to become better at it, and you do so with joy.

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

I’m passionate about improving my health and wellness, one of my favourite books in this field is called “Fiber Fueled” written by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. Another favorite book of mine is Factfulness, written by the Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, I give those two my warmest recommendations.

- Maria 
Instagram @mariathepilot

- Interviewed by - Nishad Kinhikar 

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