Life in Vietnam

Monday, 04/09/2023 08:56

The pilot's path: advice and insights

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh’s desire to become a pilot stems from a yearning for freedom, liberating herself from the constraints of deadlines. — Photo courtesy of Khanh

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh is a pilot at Pacific Airlines who has gained attention on social media for her inspiring journey. Although being an architecture graduate, Khanh was taken up with aviation, and continued her study in pilot trainee courses in HCM City, the US and Singapore. She has fulfilled her dream of becoming a pilot and soaring through the skies. Thanh Nga chats to Khanh about her career journey.

Inner Sanctum: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

First and foremost, I would like to extend my greetings to Việt Nam News and all the readers. My name is Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh, aged 27. Presently, I work as a co-pilot at Pacific Airlines, a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines.

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh is a female pilot at Pacific Airlines who gained significant attention on social media for her inspiring journey. — Photo courtesy of Khanh

Inner Sanctum: How long have you been in the aviation industry?

I embarked on this career in 2018, shortly after graduating from university. At that time, I faced a significant dilemma: choosing between further studies or entering the workforce.

At first I studied at the HCM City University of Architecture, but after completing my degree, I decided to switch to the aviation industry. After studying at a pilot college in Việt Nam, I furthered my education in the US. In 2021, I underwent training on the Airbus A320 at the Airbus Asia Training Centre in Singapore and became a co-pilot at Pacific Airlines at the age of 25.

Being a pilot offers various advantages, such as freedom from strict deadlines, personal time, and a stable income. In contrast, the previous industry I studied for was characterised by numerous deadlines. Hence, my desire to become a pilot stemmed from a yearning for freedom, liberating myself from the constraints of deadlines.

Initially, I never considered myself suitable for this profession, but as I gradually learned about the requirements and qualifications, it became evident that becoming a pilot was not as daunting as I had initially presumed.

With unwavering support and encouragement from my family, I dedicated myself to achieving the results I have obtained today.

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh was a graduate of the HCM City University of Architecture. — Photo courtesy of Khanh

Inner Sanctum: What experiences have you had in your work?

When it comes to my work experiences, there have been numerous memorable moments, but the most significant one for me was during my flight training in the US. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet many new friends, but also the freedom to soar through the sky, which instilled in me a deep sense of confidence and reinforced my love for aviation.

Inner Sanctum: How did you undergo training to become a pilot?

Just like other aspiring pilots, the journey to becoming a pilot involved different stages of training, encompassing theory and practice, both domestically and internationally. It required attention to both physical and mental aspects. To sit in the cockpit of a "giant iron bird" with the lives of hundreds of passengers behind you, countless hours of hard work, dedication, and perseverance are necessary. It was a journey that demanded sweat and tears from me and my fellow pilots.

Inner Sanctum: Tell us about your female colleagues?

Gender equality is highly valued in the aviation industry. In Pacific Airlines, where I work, we have many female pilots alongside me. They are all exceptional individuals who bring their unique qualities to the team. My female co-workers are not only talented and skilled, but also incredibly kind and supportive, making me feel welcomed and valued in a profession that has traditionally been dominated by men.

I recently had the pleasure of taking a night flight to South Korea with a female colleague who served as the captain on that flight. It was a delightful experience, and we enjoyed a harmonious working relationship and a memorable trip to South Korea together.

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh (3rd right) and her colleagues. — Photo courtesy of Khanh

Inner Sanctum: Can you describe a pilot's typical workday?

A pilot's workday is quite different from that of other professions, as it does not adhere to fixed hours. The working time, the "office", and the colleagues you work with can vary. I usually arrive at the airport about an hour before the flight to prepare the necessary documents and procedures for the flight. Throughout the day, I typically fly between one and four sectors. My schedule often involves being free when others are busy, and vice versa. However, it's worth noting that my rest time is more extensive than the typical office hours.

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh (left) seen in her cockpit. — Photo courtesy of Khanh

Inner Sanctum: What specific skills do you have that make you a good pilot?

For me, meticulousness and discipline in both my personal and professional life have been key factors contributing to my success as a pilot. These qualities enable me to be highly attentive and careful, which is crucial in a high-risk and highly responsible profession like piloting. I believe that everyone in the industry holds the highest level of responsibility and discipline because we have all undergone thorough competency assessments. The spirit of self-awareness is also paramount.

Inner Sanctum: Do you have any specific goals for your career in the future?

My primary goal is to continually expand my knowledge and ensure safe flights, always prioritising the wellbeing of passengers and delivering them to their destinations securely.

Inner Sanctum: What are your thoughts on the automation trend in the aviation industry?

While it's true that modern technology will continue to develop in the future, I believe that people will still feel more secure when flying on manned aircraft. Pilots are equipped to overcome challenges and maintain control over the aircraft. It's possible that civil drones may emerge and become commercialised in the future, but it will require rigorous evaluation tests before that becomes a reality.

Inner Sanctum: Do you have any advice for individuals aspiring to become pilots?

To embark on the path of becoming a civilian pilot, I believe three important factors should be kept in mind: physical health, academic capability, and financial resources. If you possess all three factors and are ready to embark on this journey, then you are one step closer to realising your dream. I wish you the best of luck on the road ahead. VNS

Mạch Thị Thùy Khanh seen in her daily life. — Photo courtesy of Khanh

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