Malaysia Airlines Welcomes First Female Pilots

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Malaysia Airlines plane on runway.: PHOTO: Malaysia Airlines plane on runway. (photo via Flickr/byeangel)© Flickr
PHOTO: Malaysia Airlines plane on runway. (photo via Flickr/byeangel)

Pearl Wendy Mak, Wang Wen Chien, and Nur Hidayah Mohamad Rasidin have made history as the first female pilots for Malaysia Airlines.

The three women were honored at the MAS Crew Graduation, where CEO Captain Izham Ismail said, “I’m very proud that for the first time Malaysia Airlines has three amazing, strong and resilient women graduating as pilots today. It is my hope that the future of Malaysia Airlines includes many more female captains flying our aircraft and making the country proud.”

The move to incorporate more women pilots into Malaysia Airlines came from a shortage of pilots and a new female pilot program. 

#HRNews At the graduation of 111 cabin crew and pilots at Malaysia Airlines Berhad Academy, the carrier saw its first women pilots take stage – Captain Pearl Wendy Mak, Second Officer Wang Wen Chien and Second Officer Foo Hooi Wen. https://t.co/pPbq8GtR7f

Second Officer Chien’s interest in flying began when her father took her to a “Fly for Fun” one-day pilot course in Subang when she was 15 years old.

“I was fascinated when the aircraft took off with the pilot seated next to me, he actually taught me to do some maneuvers in the sky and I found it really cool,” Chien told New Straits Times.

Chien originally became a pilot in Sydney, Australia. Her advice to other women interested in flying: “Do what you like, it may not be easy at the beginning but never give up half way through because you never know what the end result will be.”

Captain Mak, 50, worked for seven foreign airlines for 25 years, until she recently decided to return home and work for Malaysian Airlines.

While Mak recognizes that being a woman in a mostly-male industry can come with its challenges, she has some hopeful advice to women: “So long as you do your part, work as a team, and forget that you will be treated differently, you will not be seen as a man or woman but just a pilot.”

Rasidin is the youngest of the three at 21 years old and was inspired to become a pilot like her father.

“I grew up in Abu Dhabi, where my father is based. After graduating from high school in 2013, I returned to Malaysia and went to a flying school in Malacca,” she said, adding, “My 18 months training there was tough, and it took a lot of support from my loved ones and a lot of studying, will power and strict discipline to complete the course.”

Mak, Chien, and Rasidin are now part of the 7.01% of female pilots in the world, according to Women in Aviation, International.

Related video: New training program for high school students aims to combat pilot shortage (Provided by NBC News)

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