LONDON – AviationSource earlier this month got to speak with Daisy Bing, one of the future members of the aviation industry as she continues on with the ambition to fly.
As an editor’s note, I have interviewed Daisy before at a previous outlet, but want to showcase her incredible story as a Woman in Aviation once again. So without further ado, lets get into it:
JF: Tell us about how you got into aviation and your journey so far!
DB: I am lucky enough to come from a background in aviation. My grandad was a search and rescue pilot in the Royal Air Force on the SeaKing helicopter, and both of my parents are cabin crew.
This gave me a wide view into the world of aviation, however I never really considered being a pilot as a career until I went flying in a light aircraft for the first time. My aviation journey began at 14 years old when I was taken flying in a Piper Arrow with one of my family members. From that point onwards I was hooked, and I instantly knew that this was what I wanted to do as a career.
A couple of days after that flight I joined my local RAF Air Cadet squadron and started aiming towards a career as a pilot in the RAF like my grandfather. My experience in the Air Cadets was incredibly rewarding; having joined at age 14 I was a couple of years behind most of the other cadets who joined at 12. However, I quickly settled in and made the most out of the opportunities offered, especially learning about the military and the principles of flight.
I was appointed ‘Drum Major’ of my squadron’s band, which was a real honor and I still treasure the memories today of leading multiple high-profile parades. Alongside this, I also joined my school’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF) which provided me with more opportunities to go on fieldcraft exercises on the weekends and develop my leadership skills.
In 2016, I was delighted to be appointed a Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Gloucestershire, where I got to escort members of the Royal Family at multiple events. My cadet experience developed me as a person and gave me large amounts of confidence, which I now take into my flying.
I had a real passion for aviation as a teenager, and my parents were incredibly supportive of this. So much so that on my 16th birthday I was gifted flying lessons – enough to get me to my first solo!
This was a huge sacrifice for my parents, and I still am so grateful to them for providing me with the opportunities that I have been given. I definitely was not going to waste it.
I flew every weekend and studied for the ground exams in any spare time that I had, alongside studying for my A-levels. I managed to complete my first solo in a light aircraft later that year, at the age of 16, whilst still unable to drive a car! This is still one of my biggest achievements to date, and I am so grateful to my parents for providing the flight hours to get me there.
After this, the funding ran out and I had to focus on studying for my A-levels. I knew I really wanted to get my Private Pilot’s License (PPL) and so after I’d finished my A-levels I went to work at my local airport at an air traffic training school.
I worked there as a pseudo pilot for two rewarding years, playing the pretend pilots for the trainee air traffic controllers on a simulator. This was a great role for me because it taught me more about the world of aviation and improved my confidence on the radio whilst I saved up both for university and my PPL.
After two years, I headed off to the University of Reading to study war studies. I joined Oxford University Air Squadron straight away. I’ve had the best time on the squadron so far and have gained a few hours of instruction in the Grob Tutor aircraft!
My passion for flying shone through and I was lucky enough to be appointed the role of ‘IC Flying’ as part of the senior team – the top 8 students on the squadron. I have one year left on the squadron, and I hope to achieve my PFB (preliminary flight badge) in the Tutor before I leave.
Whilst not studying or flying on the UAS, I work as part of the operations team at White Waltham airfield – another fantastic insight into aviation and a chance for me to save some money.
Around this time last year whilst studying online from home, I received the news that I had been awarded the ‘Flying Start’ scholarship from the British Women Pilots Association (BWPA) which gave me enough money to finish off my PPL.
That summer, as soon as lockdown restrictions allowed for dual flying, I put the money to good use and flew intensely for a month. In August 2020 I finally gained my PPL! I am so proud of myself that I managed to achieve this, both mentally and financially – huge thank you to the BWPA for supporting my journey! I then went on to achieve my night rating in November, and I’m now working towards hour building for my commercial pilot’s license.
Towards the end of 2020, I was delighted that the BWPA also awarded me the Hilda Hewlett Trophy for commitment and initiative in a young female pilot. I am honored to have my name associated with such an icon in aviation, and I hope I can live up to this prestigious award.
Currently, I am enjoying my PPL and having some fun taking my friends and family flying in my revision breaks.
JF: What are your future plans in aviation?
DB: Whilst I have dreamed of becoming an RAF pilot since a young age, I have so far been unsuccessful in passing the pilot aptitude test. Making the decision to pursue a civilian flying route has been a difficult one for me because of the large financial costs that go along with it.
However, I know that I want to be a pilot – my passion for aviation really is far too big for me to waste it! I want to fly more than anything else, and so I will do everything possible to get there! (Even if that means taking a bit longer than the average person). I believe that as long as I work hard, I will be capable of achieving my dream.
I still have one year left of my university course before I graduate in 2022. Having studied from home this year, I have managed to save up some money. This summer, I am planning on completing my IR(R), complex conversion and tailwheel rating.
These courses will massively widen my current skill set and expose me to a variety of different types of flying whilst building my hours for my CPL. I’m incredibly excited that I have been offered work experience with a local private jet company over the summer, and I’m really looking forward to learning about how it operates and what the lifestyle of a private jet pilot is like.
I plan to complete the majority of the ATPL ground school learning during my last year of university to enable me to move onto a modular course once I graduate. For me, modular was really the only option due to financial restrictions, but this path also gives me a lot more flexibility and control over my training whilst waiting for the industry to recover.
After I’ve completed my modular course, I would like to work for a company like Draken or fly private jets. I would also really like to instruct too at some point in my career, before moving onto the airlines.
JF: How is COVID-19 shaping your future?
DB: With both of my parents in the airline industry, COVID-19 has been a very stressful time for my family and has really made me think about the unpredictability of the industry.
Especially as training to become a pilot is such an expensive process, it has forced me to consider the risks involved in this. This has not deterred me from becoming a pilot at all, but I think it is important to consider.
It is certainly not the ideal time to be going into a career in aviation. I have unfortunately seen so many talented pilots lose their jobs, as well as friends who don’t have jobs after recently coming out of training.
The pandemic has made me realize the importance of having a backup option, and I hope my degree can contribute to this if it’s ever needed. I wish all my lovely friends in the industry the best of luck getting back to flying.
JF: What do you believe needs to change surrounding women in aviation?
DB: I am incredibly passionate about promoting women in aviation in any way that I can. I’m currently working with The Aviatrix Project and presenting my story to children in schools around the country to show them that anyone can be a pilot.
I’m also working with Fly2Help this summer to provide aviation experiences to children. I love doing things like this and for me, I think this is what needs to happen more.
I have met so many young girls who just simply don’t believe that being a pilot is an available option to them, which is what needs to be changed. I personally think this is down to the typical stereotype of a male pilot being shown frequently on the TV, and when female pilots are shown (rarely), more often than not they are presented in a negative light! (Looking at you, ‘EasyJet inside the cockpit…’).
This creates such a bad image for young girls and it’s very damaging. More female pilots need to be presented through the media in a positive and encouraging way to really make a change.
Of course, there are still people around that unfortunately don’t believe women should be pilots. I’ve had a good few comments thrown my way now, including my personal favourite ‘well if a blonde girl can fly then it must be easy!’.
However, there are less and less of these people now. Overall, my personal experience in the industry has been excellent. Whilst I am only at the beginning of my journey, the support I have received has been incredible. If anything, I have received more support being female – everyone wants me to succeed!
My male friends in the industry also don’t treat me any differently because I’m female – I don’t feel excluded at all.
I think a common misconception is that female trainee pilot will be left on their own, but this really could not be further than the truth! Obviously, aviation is a very male-dominated industry, but I don’t think that should put any girl off flying if that’s what they want to do.
Recently, there has been a lot of schemes and opportunities to encourage more females to train to become pilots. And whilst I do think this is an important part of getting more women into the industry, I personally believe very strongly in equality.
When being recruited for a certain job, I do not want to be given the job because I’m female, I want to be given it because I am the best person for the role.
I think there could be a tendency in the near future for companies to hire more females to increase diversity rather than for their skillset, and whilst diversity is something to be valued within a workforce, I personally would rather be hired because I am the best person for the job.
We must encourage more women to become pilots, but this should not come at the detriment to overall equality. There needs to be a balance.
I think simply increasing the awareness of female pilots in the media would make a huge difference in showing young girls that anyone can be a pilot. I’m proud of the work I’m doing with charities such as Fly2Help and I would encourage everyone to support them if you are able!
JF: What advice do you have for women who want to be pilots?
DB: Shrug the comments off – you will get some, but the best thing to do is laugh! Work hard, focus on your goals and enjoy the flying! Connect with other female pilots through organisations like the BWPA. And finally, always try to be one step ahead of the boys!
What remains clear is that Daisy is one of many women in aviation who are doing all they can to get into an industry that they love.
There is a true hope that as we begin to come out of this pandemic, that this can be considered as a restart in the way the aviation industry behaves and functions, where there is true opportunity for all, irrespective of who you are.
As per Daisy’s request, we would also like to showcase three charities that she has worked alongside with, and most definitely deserve the exposure it needs in order to break the mould surrounding women in the sector:
Take a look at these amazing charities: