"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking"
This pilot interview is dedicated to all the women pilots who, despite the minority in the industry, all followed their dream of becoming a professional pilot!
It is Monday afternoon and we are meeting Captain Linn and Captain Olivia at Arlanda Airport to hear their stories about why they wanted to become a pilot and about how life as a commercial pilot looks like.
Can't see the video? Click the link here
We are sitting in Arlanda Sky City, excited to hear about Linns and Olivias stories. Behind us you can see all the incredible aircraft waiting for taking off and landing. Linn and Olivia have different stories about their journey from wanting to become a pilot until they got promoted to captains at Norwegian, still, they do share the same admiration for the aviation world. Let the interview begin!
You can watch the full interview in the video above or you can continue to read the interview below. Either way, I hope you enjoy the stories and will find it inspirational!
Who is Olivia and Linn?
Linn Rosen (L), Norwegian Captain
My name is Linn and I’m 32 years old, I live in a small town just outside Arlanda called Knivsta, I have two kids, they are 2 and 4 years old. I’ve been flying for Norwegian since 2010 and I’m based here in Stockholm right now. In my spare time I like to go skiing, boating and being with my friends and family.
Linn Rosen, Norwegian Captian
Olivia Lundbäck (O), Norwegian Captain
My name is Olivia, I’m 30 years old. I’m born and raised in Nacka, it’s located a little bit outside of Stockholm. Right now I live in the city center of Stockholm. I’ve been flying for 7 years and I started in Norwegian in 2012. I’m based in Oslo right now, so I commute to Norway. When I have my days off I’m usually with friends and family and have a good time.
Oliva Lundbäck, Norwegian Captain
How long have you been working at Norwegian?
L: I’ve been working for Norwegian since 2010. I started in Norway, and I was first based in Oslo and then Bergen. After a year, I moved to Copenhagen and was based in Copenhagen and after almost two years I moved to Stockholm and got based in Stockholm where I live right now.
O: I started in 2012 and was based in Helsinki for approximately 1 year. After that I’ve been based in both Stockholm and Oslo. I’ve also been based in the Caribbean for 6 months and that was an adventure, I really loved it! I’ve also been based in the United States in Providence close to Boston for 4 months flying Transatlantic flights, so it was also an adventure!
It was nice to try something new and it was kind of an experience to try to be based in the US, because it has such big airports. Still at the same time I love to be at home as well, so I really enjoy Oslo right now because I’m close to home, Stockholm where I live.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a pilot? What contributed to this decision?
O: I’d say that I have always been interested in aviation. When I was around 18-19 years old, I imagined that the pilot job could be very dynamic, challenging and interesting and that’s also one of the contributing factors to why I chose or decided to try it out. I haven’t regretted it at all.
L: Well, to become a pilot was never a childhood dream for me, although my dad was a pilot and without him I think I never would have started a career in aviation. When I was 14 years old, I had friend who he is one year older than me, and he applied for a school which was a flight school combined with upper secondary school in Sweden. I was inspired by him and then decided to apply the year after him.
I have always been interested in aviation. When I was around 18-19 years old, I imagined that the pilot job could be very dynamic, challenging and interesting ...
Do you know that only 5% of airline pilots worldwide are female? Why do you think that is and have you ever noticed any advantages or disadvantages by being a female pilot?
O: We both have noticed that there aren’t many women pilots in our course. We went together at the same captain upper course and there was two of us among 10 in total. And it has been like that during the whole career. In my class at the flight school I was the only girl.
I think that it might be because the industry has been male dominated since the beginning and that might be one of the factors why women don’t think this is a natural option or choice. We try to enhance it and enlighten the abilities. Girls may also think that the pilot job is very technical.
L: Exactly, but it is so much more than just the technical part, so much about communication and other things.
You don’t see any disadvantages with being a women Pilot?
0: Not really. Maybe that people don’t think of you being a pilot since you are a woman.
L: Yes, I agree with Olivia. When people think of a pilot they usually think of an older man, 50 years old etc..
When you did the Captain Course, when did you apply for the position as a Captain, how does the process work?
L: I applied almost two years ago. I sent in my application and went to the evaluation process 6 months later. That included simulator tests, technical tests, a personal interview and they also collected recommendations from other captains that I recently flew with at that time. After almost a year when I passed the tests, I got to the commander upgrade course together with Olivia. We had two weeks ground course to start with and then simulating sessions and line training.
O: The classroom courses had subjects like performance, leadership, crew resource management among others. You have 5 simulating sessions and after that you go out, as Linn said, on line training. And it is actual real flying where we are sitting in the left hand seat to act as a captain. However, we still have an experienced line training captain sitting in the right hand seat to act as a First Officer, and you do that for 40 sectors…
L: ...40 flights.
O: Yes, exactly 40 flights, 40 sectors is an aviation line pitch! You must be approved both in the simulator and in the line training to fully complete the course and to start your duty as a captain. The course took around 3 months and I also applied for approximate one year before I started the course.
How long do you have to have been a Pilot before you can apply as a Captain?
O: It depends on which company, because certain companies have limitations on when you can apply, and it’s based on experience like hours for example. Most companies have a requirement of around 4000 flight hours I think. However, it’s totally depending on which company you’re working for.
L: And it also depends on which aircraft you are flying. If you are flying like transatlantic or bigger airplanes then you need more hours.
When you did the Captain course did you meet any obstacles during the training or anything else?
O: You put a lot of pressure on yourself, but the factor that you are a female doesn’t influence it. Just do what you must do and perform good.
L: We are used to be in this industry and we have been in this for quite along time now, so I'm not really thinking about that I'm a woman among these men.
We don’t have to dive deep into the discussion about gender equality. What is your personal experience within the aviation industry when it comes to salary, upgrades, and employment?
L: It’s actually very straight forward in this industry. The salary is based on how long time you have been in the company and also on how much flying experience you had when you started, and then you’re just following like a scale. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man or where you come from, you have exactly the same salary, as the ones with the same experience.
O: Actually, I think the aviation industry is among one of the most equal. Because it’s depending on when you start in the company and your flight experience, so it doesn’t matter what gender we have. That’s good to know if you are a girl and actually want to apply and if you are worried about discrimination somehow, it’s very straightforward.
What is the most rewarding with your job?
L: It’s fun and I like that it’s both theoretical and practical. You have this theoretical background although the job itself is very practical. You work with a lot of good colleagues. As well as, every day is different from each other.
O: I think so too. The most rewarding is to actually fly the plane because that’s why you become a pilot. And as Linn said, meeting great colleagues, and you always get to see the sun every day. That sounds a little bit cheesy but that’s the truth.
What do you enjoy about the aviation industry?
O: I think it’s very dynamic. You meet a lot of people, see different places and every day is unique because the weather changes and you work with different people. Every month’s schedule is totally different from another.
L: You work different times. Sometimes you start very early, or you fly night flights. It is very different and the destinations has also a big variation.
O: You don’t have a common routine as many other people have and I kind of like it.
A: It’s a bit more flexible?
O: Yes, flexible in the way that you are not having the same schedule. But not flexible that you can show up at work half an hour late since we have on time performance all the time.
What do you consider to be important for a professional pilot?
O: I think it’s very important to have the knowledge of course and know how to use it. Be responsible, because it’s a very irresponsible job we have. Be accurate and be a team player, because you have a lot of people around you during your work days.
L: You must like to work with different people and work close to others. You might work with one pilot for maybe one or two days and then you might not see each other for one year. You must be able to cope with stress; some situations can be very stressful and then you have to prioritize what’s the most important thing to do for the time being.
What makes a great pilot?
O: I think a great pilot is someone who is a self-validating in the way that you are thinking about your actions. For example, if you make something good you just continue with it, although if you make something that you are not really happy with, then you just figure out what went wrong and then try to improve it the next time, because then you don’t stagnate about becoming a great pilot every day. You learn something new every day!
A great pilot is someone who is a self-validating in the way that you are thinking about your actions
How is it to work for Norwegian?
O: I really enjoy it, I think it is a good company. It has grown really big. When I started in Helsinki, I saw like one/two aircraft by that time and that place. But now we have 20 more aircraft and they have grown with different bases all over Europe. It’s very interesting to see. It’s a new thinking company.
L: Me too. We have been working for Norwegian for quite some time and it’s been interesting to see the growth of the company.
What have been your best destination so far that you have flown to?
L: I like London Gatwick a lot. It’s a lot of traffic going in and out, and the air traffic controllers are really efficient and very good at what they are doing. The airport only have a single runway, that’s interesting.
O: I must say that I enjoyed my time in the Caribbean, because then we flew to JFK New York, John F. Kennedy Airport. It’s quite a big airport and it was really interesting to see how the Americans work in the airspace and the ATC and everything. When you are there it is like you are a very small aircraft comparing to the other companies. It was really impressing.
I like to fly around 2,5-hour flights, because then you have a lot of things to do the first 20 minutes and then you have a little a break to monitor the systems and fuel flow and talk to the ATC. Then you start to prepare your flight destination with briefings and setting up navigation aids. I also like this scheduling that we are working 5 days and have 4 days off because when you are off you are completely off work but when you are working, you are putting your soul into it and working 100%. Then you are free for your 4 days, and then on again, so I really like that!
L: Yes, and you never take the job back home.
What advice would you give someone (young girls) who is considering a career in aviation?
L: Just take the first step, send in your application. You can always change your mind later if it’s not for you, just take the first step.
O: Do some research and if you are really interested in it, just go for it! It might be some hard work and real determination, but it’s really worth it!
What is your next destination?
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have now reach our destination"
Thank you to Linn and Olivia who took the time for this interview! I hope you enjoyed reading or watching their stories and perhaps even feel inspired to go chase your own pilot dreams!
If you want to learn more about how you can get airborne, you can download our Airborne Magazine that will teach you all the steps you need to take before you can line up on the runway yourself and chase those pilot dreams!