Lucy Tardrew loves her job. “I’ve been flying for 30 years and I love the lifestyle; I look forward to going to work, flying all over the world and I like using my skills in flying the aircraft”, she said.

It was a long journey that started with the air force at University and then in the USA when she was in her 20s until becoming a Virgin Atlantic Captain. Primarily, she decided to go to the USA and get her Commercial Pilot Licence in Texas and became a Flight Instructor. Then, step by step she built her career, with a lot of perseverance and hard work that she believes to be the key to her success.

Lucy started working as a First Officer in Virgin Atlantic, where she has been working since 1995.

As a captain, she works in a male-dominated job. Although there is nothing that prevents women from working in aviation, the truth is that it is not common to see women following these careers. Only 3 percent of pilots are female and only 0.6 percent of pilots are female Captains.

“Not enough young girls see pictures of lady pilots, so they don’t even think this could be an option. It’s not because girls are not good enough, it is because they don’t consider becoming a pilot in the first place”.

Lucy remembers her first uniform, which was a male uniform with a tie. Now times have changed and Lucy has a female uniform, based on the cabin crew uniform designed by Vivienne Westwood.

Beyond being a professional who is recognised by her peers, Lucy is also a proud mother, and feels that being a pilot has never been a barrier. “When my children were little, I might have to be away for 48 hours, but then you get several days off afterwards to spend time with the children, so in a funny kind of way, it actually worked out very well”, she explained.

To become a pilot, you need to have “handling skills” to fly the plane, but also “people skills because you are in a cockpit with someone for maybe 10 hours and you are also managing a large team of people”. Another important competency is “keeping your cool if a disaster happens; it’s important to keep calm.

“All in all to succeed in gaining your pilot’s qualification is mainly about perseverance; If it’s your dream, and you’re prepared to work hard and never give up, then you will achieve your goal”, said Captain Lucy.

At the moment she lives in the Algarve. As a Virgin Atlantic Captain she does long haul flights about once a week, so only needs to fly to England when she goes to work, and she can chose where she wants to live. When she isn’t in the sky, Lucy spends her time in the Algarve playing tennis, doing yoga on the beach and playing golf.

Please pass this article on to any young girls out there who may be interested in a career in aviation – it would be lovely to see more ladies joining Captain Lucy in the sky, FLYING HIGH!

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