In a profession dominated my men, a lady from our tiny island has achieved a feat that is sure to evoke envy in the hearts of many who work in the aviation industry.
She currently pilots one of the world’s most impressive aircraft – the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s most advanced airplane and purchasing one will set you back by a cool USD $250 million.
According to United Hemispheres, First Officer Deon Byrne has made the unusual her standard for her entire life, especially in her career choice: She has flown for United for nine years, in a profession where she doesn’t see many who look like her.
“There are not a lot of women that I know of doing this,” Byrne says. “When I used to fly commuters, because I have a younger-looking face than my age, I got comments like, ‘God help us.’ But nowadays, people feel proud.”
At the tender age of 13, Byrne, the daughter of a single mother, moved to New York. “I was into school and studying, and I was the outcast.”
She explains the movie Top Gun and a chance encounter with Air Force recruiters motivated her. “I was pre-med at St. John’s University in New York. While I was at the career fair recruiting events every spring, I would ask the Air Force recruiters, ‘Is there any way I can be a doctor and fly? And they told me ‘no’ every time.’”
She studied for a semester at American University of Rome, then finished college early, with medical school, flying and travel still in her sights. She took a job as a flight attendant to pay for flying school. “The company I worked for did a lot of charters for other airlines and U.S. military. Whenever there was a hot spot in the world, that carrier would either transport troops or transport refugees. I flew around the world twice by the age of 21 or 22. It was a pretty neat experience.”
Throughout her career, proving herself has helped Byrne overcome skepticism and has opened doors, including earning a berth flying United’s newest metal, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. “I was one of the first all-female 787 flight crews,” she says. “It’s one of the most high-tech airplanes, and we were flying it. I had beaucoup customers who were very glad to see us. We did a great job.”
Flying the 787 is her dream assignment. “It brings a smile to my face every time I step into that cockpit,” she says. “And customers are excited. People will cut through Houston just to ride on the 787. It’s one of the fastest airplanes out there. We cruise really high. Someone takes off before us, and we’ll pass them over the Atlantic. I love this airplane.”
Isn’t it a truly awesome feeling to see Jamaicans achieve big things? Share your thoughts.
Source: United Hemispheres Magazine
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