Female pilots are rare, but the few who venture into the male-dominated civil aviation industry shine like diamonds in the rough
Meet Malaysia Airlines’ first female cadet pilots: Waie Rasidin, Foo Hooi Wen and Wang Wen Chien.
Following in the footsteps of her father, who is also a pilot, Waie Rasidin joined Malaysia Airlines as a cadet pilot in December last year. “It has been an exciting ride so far, and everyone in the company is friendly and welcoming,” she says, thanking her family for their words of encouragement in times of challenges. The Sabah-born lass, who enjoys painting, riding and travelling, shares that dedication and passion are key to becoming a good pilot.
As to why she chose to fly with Malaysia Airlines, Waie says that it is an honour to be part of the national carrier. “The company also offers many opportunities to advance my career should I wish to venture into other aviation-related professions,” she adds.
Another female pilot who was inspired by her father is Foo Hooi Wen, who joined as a Malaysia Airlines cadet pilot in October 2017. “When I was young, my father spoke to me often about his dream to become a pilot, which never materialised,” she explains. Over time, she fell in love with flying, and her father’s dream became her own.
For Foo, the biggest challenge that comes with the role is the ability to handle stress and pressure, which she alleviates by leading an active lifestyle. Like Waie, Foo is proud to be flying for Malaysia Airlines, citing its rich history, as well as its status as the pride and joy of the nation. “I’m proud to say that I’m not just a pilot, but also one of the few female pilots in this company,” she proclaims.
Wang Wen Chien’s first brush with flying was in secondary school, when she attended a one-day pilot course to fly a Cessna-152. The experience was so unforgettable, it inspired her to become a pilot. She went on to Sydney, Australia to further her studies in aviation, before returning to Malaysia in 2014 and joining Malaysia Airlines as a cadet pilot.
As the eldest among her siblings who are still in school, Wang strives to be a good example to them. “Although good grades in Math and Physics are part of the qualifications needed before joining flying school, more importantly, one has to be alert and ready at all times. Experience comes through training and daily flights,” she elaborates. In her spare time, Wang enjoys bowling, basketball and swimming, as well as solving Sudoku puzzles.
Their advice for aspiring young women who wish to become airline pilots is to never let anything or anyone hold them back from pursuing their dreams. “There should not be barriers for women who wish to join. With proper motivation and support, women, too, can make it in the industry,” says Foo.
Wang believes that communities and attitudes have changed over the years. “Women are now seen as able to take up challenges and make important decisions. We are more than capable of flying and landing aircraft safely,” she adds.