Girls in Aviation, Epp Maria Pugal´s job shadowing day in Xfly 

Epp Maria is a high school student who dreams of becoming a pilot. She is one of many youngsters who will apply to the Estonian Aviation Academy Commercial Air Transport Pilot curriculum this summer. 

Xfly strongly believes we need more women in aviation. Therefore, we arranged a job shadowing day for Epp with our Captain Mari-Liis Saar.  

When did you realize that you would like to become a pilot?

My father has worked in aviation all his life. When I was a child, I visited him a lot at the workplace, and even then, I remember being mesmerized by how powerful and beautiful the planes were. I had a realization about a year ago that becoming a pilot is the right career path for me. After that, I have done everything possible to make my dream come true.  

What fascinates me most about the profession of a pilot is that there are no days alike. There are different destinations, crews, and weather conditions. Some days you would fly two flights and some days four, some workdays end at your home base and some further afield – the list goes on and on.

What did your job shadowing day look like? 

My job shadowing day with Xfly took place on February 18. The preparations for it started sooner. There were many people involved to make it happen. We communicated with Mari-Liis by e-mail, and I had the opportunity to ask her any questions I had over time. 

In the early hours of February 18, we flew from Tallinn to Stockholm, Arlanda. I was an observer passenger by Mari-Liis´s side on the route Stockholm-Berlin-Stockholm-Tallinn. When we first arrived in Stockholm, we had enough time to have coffee, sit down and talk about exciting aviation stuff. The rest of the day passed in a blink of an eye. We were already back in Tallinn by the evening.  

What did you learn during your job shadowing day?

This whole process gave me a lot of knowledge, thanks to Captain Mari-Liis Saar, who shared with me very openly everything I needed to know before committing to this career path. Mari-Liis gave me a complete overview of the pilot profession. The insights she shared with me were not something you can find on the internet. Naturally, I had so much to learn on the spot that day: how to prepare for a flight, what some buttons in the cockpit do, how the radio works, and how to understand between all the action in the cockpit that ATC is trying to get in touch with your flight, what flying on autopilot means, what are the CRJ900 features and so on. In short, I got so much more from that day and the conversations that preceded it than I could have ever imagined.

What personal qualities do you feel are needed to work as a pilot?

I knew before that a pilot must be cold-nerved. Seeing Mari-Liis doing her job so calm and relaxed, I understood why it is needed. I also realized that the pilot must be very determined. Up in the air, she can rely on herself, the co-pilot, the checklist, and, to some extent, radio communications. Being a pilot is a strenuous job, so I believe the most important thing is that flying should be your passion, and it should give you back something more than a monthly salary. Also, it is necessary to adapt quickly to work with different people and cope even in critical situations. In my opinion, the pilot must be an all-in-one package.