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If you’re passionate about aviation and happen to have an Instagram account, you probably are a follower of Susanna, or Susy the pilot.
This Swedish pilot has gathered a large following online, posting regular updates on her Instagram account about her adventures flying the rather unique Avrojet around Europe. Susanna, born in Sweden, has been flying since 2001, mostly in Europe and Asia. We caught up with her for an interview, starting with the most cliche of all questions… Has being a pilot always been a dream?
Susanna: I wanted to be a flight attendant until I actually had my first flight as a kid, then I realised working as a pilot would suit me better. I forgot about my childhood dream for many years but decided to give it a try after high school.
Insideflyer: What inspired you to become a pilot?
Susanna: Hard to say, I think a combination of Star Wars movies and watching the big jets in the sky as a kid. I have always been very fascinated by airplanes and knew early that I wanted to fly them. The first time I flew an airplane I felt instantly I was in the right place.
Insideflyer: Is there, in these rushed times of short turnarounds, still time to interact with passengers?
Susanna: Yes and no… During some phases of the turnaround we are busy with calculations, checking weather and briefings, but usually by the time the passengers arrive we are quite relaxed and most duties already taken care of. I still think it’s important for the flight deck to interact with passengers and I always enjoy answering questions or showing our beautiful office.
Insideflyer: As this is a frequent flyer site after all, can you tell if a passenger is a frequent flyer?
Susanna: Yes! Traveling with only small hand luggage, being on time at the gate with papers ready at boarding and a friendly attitude towards cabin crew members are quite common traits for a frequent flyer in my opinion.
Insideflyer: Our readers better be on their best behaviour from now on! What would you say is your favourite type of flight?
Susanna: One of my favourite things to do are ferry flights. Once I did a very nice Avro ferry flight from England, via Hungary and Azerbaijan to Tajikistan. We planned the stops and flights ourselves, and enjoyed the different cultures during our short night stops. We had to adapt our normal procedures a bit, which I think is a great thing for a pilot to do every now and then. We are so well structured and always following our standard procedures that it is easy to forget how to be creative when it’s needed.
Insideflyer: At times when big middle-eastern carriers are rapidly expanding, and opportunities are aplenty for pilots wanting to fly around the world, you mentioned on your Instagram account you made the decision to remain in Europe, what motivated you to do so?
Susanna: I have been working outside Europe in the past and though it’s nice for a short while, in the end I tend to come back to my home base. It is of course family and social life calling, but also has to do with the work environment here. We take a lot for granted when it comes to social security, but also when it comes to aviation related things like safety and procedures. In other parts of the world those might be dealt with very different compared to our standards . I would consider flying outside Europe for a short while though. The fact that we are free to move pretty much anywhere is one of the benefits of this job.
Insideflyer: You are also the co-founder of the Aviatrix calendar, can you explain to our readers what it is about?
Susanna: The Aviatrix Calendar project was founded by me and my friend Emelie Bonin, also a pilot, in 2015. To support cancer research, we produce a stylish and classy calendar featuring only female pilots. Everybody involved works on a volunteer basis, allowing the money raised to go to cancer research. The calendar of 2017 is already in the making and the photos were taken in Antwerp in June of this year. If you want to know more or support our cause, do check out the aviatrix calendar website.
Insideflyer: Some truly beautiful pictures there, a must for all aviation fans! Another aviation fan favourite is the plane you fly, the Avro, sadly a type that is becoming increasingly rare in Europe and indeed worldwide. Do you have plans to switch to another type of airplane?
Susanna: I love flying the Avro and I will miss it the day I have to change type. Check back with me in 2018, there will probably be another type in my license by then 😉
Insideflyer: We’re sure the Instagram pictures will still be fabulous, even without the Avro! Switching to a more somber subject, the terrorist attacks on Brussels Airport of March 22 left a big impression on passengers and the people of the aviation world. How did you experience those horrible days?
Susanna: I landed the night before and was in Belgium, but not at the airport, when the attacks occurred. After reassuring my family and friends that I was OK, I spent the entire day in front of the TV and social media to follow the terrible news. Two days later I went to Brussels airport to fly an empty Avro to Antwerp where we continued our operations, it was such a strange and sad day to see the completely empty and quiet airport. Attacks happen everywhere these days, but when it happens close to you it has a different impact for sure.
Insideflyer: Finally, leaving terror behind us, what would you consider the best part about your job?
Susanna: Besides the amazing feeling of controlling a big machine? I also love to travel and it’s one of the best sides of the job. Then of course the cliche….we get to see the sun and amazing scenery every day. I still appreciate it and try to bring my camera equipment as often as possible