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Lured To The Skies

Hi! I'm Raquel. I am currently awaiting to commence training in Scoot as a Cadet Pilot.

At a very young age, I was fortunate to have many opportunities travelling on aeroplanes to visit my extended family in the Philippines. The excitement of flying never disappears and the holidays just made the experience of flying even more enjoyable. I remember vividly that I would appeal to my parents for the window seat because I was always captivated by the flurry of activities occurring and the mechanical symphony that played during take-offs and landings.

I was always enchanted by the anticipation of this goliath of a flying machine ambling its way through the taxiways and the surge of raw power emanating from the plane as it passages through the runway. Upon arrival at my destination, I would take my time to quietly observe the layout of the airport as well as the wide variants of planes scattered across the apron.

My youngest brother and I onboard Philippine Airlines.

As a young teenage aviation enthusiast, my weekly “excuse” to study with my peers at the airport’s viewing mall was but another excuse to satisfy my joy of plane spotting. Eventually, the part-time jobs that I had were mostly at the airport too. One of the most memorable experiences working in the transit area of Changi Airport then was witnessing the first A380 parked right before my eyes; a true marvel of European engineering spanning 261ft carrying up to 868 passengers and piloted by a crew of merely 2.

In the year 2010, my first full-time job was an air stewardess for Singapore Airlines. On my Supernumerary (SNY) flight as an air stewardess I had the privilege to witness the pilots at work in the cockpit and was immediately mesmerised (Why? - Two pilots working in tandem; handling a whole array of equipment and checklists that were beyond my immediate comprehension). However, back then, especially in Asia, the aviation industry was still not very receptive towards hiring female pilots. Hence, I continued to fly as an air stewardess for close to 3 years before venturing into other job opportunities.

My batchgirl, Jenny, and I happened to be rostered to do a Madras turn on the Airbus 330.

Being a stewardess has been very rewarding for me. I was presented with plenty of opportunities to travel to multiple major cities across the globe when I was only in my early twenties, this included Cairo which Singapore Airlines has since suspended travelling to in 2014. Aside to that, it also polished my interpersonal skills as I get to meet people from all walks of life. I also made friends with several pilots, whom till today I still keep in contact with and frequently consult on matters relating to the aviation industry. However, it was never just about the destinations. I wanted to be the one making the decisions, to be purposed with connecting travellers to their loved ones overseas, to help fulfil people’s dreams of visiting a foreign country and to be able to, at the end of the day step off the plane and say that I have gotten them there safely.

28 November 2012: Taking a tram up to Jungfraujoch (Switzerland)

When I left Singapore Airlines, I went from being a property agent to setting up my own online florist business together. I also had the privilege of working with one of the world's leading tech companies. Eventually, I settled down in the fitness industry occupying a managerial role where I honed my skills in leadership, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability. Despite working in other industries, the advice I got from some aviators was to continue to apply for jobs related to aviation so that I can eventually attain my goal. I applied to the Singapore Airforce as AWO C3 but was eventually rejected.

Nevertheless, the lure of the cockpit never left me over the years. The long hiatus to my dream came to an end in early 2018, when my best friend got accepted into Singapore Airlines as a cadet pilot. I came to a realisation that the dream to become a pilot was now or never. Age was catching up and I knew I had to do something.

This time, I finally felt that time was on my side. Compared to 10 years ago, Singapore’s aviation industry has finally started to become receptive to inspiring female pilots. Along with the professional experience that I had acquired working over the years, I was confident that these soft skills would serve me well in the cockpit.

With the experiences my best friend shared with me as a cadet pilot, my determination was bolstered further through flight simulator sessions at Flight Experience at The Flyer. The flight instructor who displayed an extensive knowledge and passion for aviation played an important role in inspiring me to continue my pursuit of the dream of being an aviator. Online, I also subscribed and closely followed aviation related channels such as “Captain Joe”, “Mentour Pilot”,”DJ’s Aviation” and much more. These channels not only serve as theoretical and technical insights into the inner workings of a pilot’s life but also keeps me abreast of aviation news around the world.

Flight Simulator Session (Flight Experience at the Flyer)

The Alchemist (1988)Edit. When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Each thing has to transform itself into something better, and to acquire a new Personal Legend, until, someday, the Soul of the World becomes one thing only.

Through extensive research, I chanced upon the Women’s Scholarship offered by Revion and took the leap of faith and submitted my application. After several rounds of interviews, I was granted the scholarship. I was then one step closer to becoming a pilot!

When I shared the news with my loved ones, there were mixed emotions and responses from them. But having read through the life of pilots online and even listening to real-life accounts from fellow pilots, I understood that the journey in aviation comes with great sacrifices in many aspects of life. Eventually, I won the hearts of my loved ones and friends by staying true and determined about my ambition.

As the ground school programme in Revion was part-time, my course mates and I had to juggle between a full-time job and studying. It was a huge challenge as time played an important factor. Though classes were conducted thrice a week after work, by the time we reached school, we were usually exhausted from working and it didn’t help that ATPL subjects were theory-heavy.

Here, self-discipline was crucial. Throughout the time spent together as course mates, all of us grew closer and it became apparent that the dream of becoming a pilot was one shared by many, but only made attainable by those that persevere. Youhao was also understanding towards our schedules, individual work commitments and life challenges. That alone assured me that I was in good hands.

(RGS08) We had multiple attempts before getting a good shot!

(RGS08) Ready for some prata?

Being a pilot did not happen overnight. It took me years before I could finally savour my first step into the journey of an aviator. To all aspiring pilots out there, do not allow the fear of rejection keep you from your dreams. Be objective: Place yourselves in the perspective of a pilot, an aviation company, a passenger. Keep questioning: What skills do I need for this profession? How do I obtain them? If I were a passenger, how would I want my pilot to act? What is expected of me?

Captain Joe always ends his videos by saying “A good pilot is always learning” and this spurred me on to push harder despite the multitude of rejections. The skies are ever-changing and weather conditions are never the same for each flight, therefore, even the most experienced of pilots would be challenged daily in new ways. I look forward to the opportunity to take to the skies with the responsibility and knowledge of the integral role that pilots fulfil in connecting people to loved ones, destinations and dreams.

Revion gave me the golden opportunity to take my first step. As one door closes, another swings open. Watching online aviation videos and keeping abreast with my ATPL knowledge keeps me going.

A quote that always resonates within me:

“Never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning” - Roy T. Bennetts.


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