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Samoan women pilots encouraged

A New Zealand-based woman pilot has encouraged young Samoan women to consider flying as a career option and to break perceptions that it is a man's job.

Captain Elissa Donald, who has flown for over 20 years, flew the Air New Zealand Airbus A320 to Samoa and slept over at the Taumeasina Island Resort before returning to Auckland the next day.

She told the Samoa Observer that young women in Samoa should consider flying as a career option as there is a perception that being a pilot is a men’s job.

"I got off the plane and walked out with my crew and I saw these Samoans at the airport eyeing me,” she said and laughed. "I have been a pilot for twenty three years and the road to becoming a pilot ain't easy, it will cost you so much but if you're passionate about it then do it.”

While she is a mother to three children, flying an aircraft has never ceased to amaze her and she became a pilot. 

And while being a pilot has its challenges such as flying during bad weather, they always prepare themselves for the journey ahead. 

"Before we travel, we always prepare ourselves on what lies ahead, if we know the weather is bad we will either delay landings or change course, because we cannot risk the lives of the people who are on board," she added.

In a post on Air New Zealand’s website last April to mark International Women’s Day, data attributed to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots stated that women today make up 5 per cent of airline pilots worldwide.

And Air New Zealand “is a nudge ahead at 7.4 per cent female pilots and it’s a great time to join us!”

Captain Donald also gave the thumbs up to Samoa’s preparations for the coronavirus threat, saying she is amazed with the screening processes put in place by the authorities for arriving passengers.

While her stay in Samoa was short, she praised the Taumeasina Island Resort for its friendly staff and hopes she can make a longer trip to Samoa for a tour. 

“The hotel has been very friendly and helpful when I checked in, this shows so much of Samoa’s personality that I’ve heard so much about. I want to have a long trip to Samoa so I could tour around the island and see what it's like,” she added. "This is my second time in Samoa but I've never had time to tour because it's such a short-term kind of trip just like this one, I arrived here around 1pm yesterday and I'm flying off again today.”

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