I'm all dressed in my suit arriving at the airport before my interview. A woman in the arrivals area asks me if I'm a member of a certain profession. I look at her startled. I was one of those once, but haven't been one for years. It was the career I gave up for aviation. Has it so thoroughly permeated my being that I am still identifiable as one? Nah. She's greeting delegates arriving in town for a conference. It must just be the suit.
I have time to kill before the interview, and the greeter has to wait for a few more flights to arrive, so I stay and chat to her a bit, finding out the state of the industry I left and catching up on some colleagues we know in common. I tell her why I'm here and she knows a pilot who works there. She names him. It's Steve, the interviewer. Canada, they keep telling me, is a country of thirty million people, but I think really there must be far fewer of us. The illusion is probably kept up by a bunch of extras they keep running by in different hats. Maybe if this flying thing doesn't pan out I can get a job as an extra.
I go off the the washroom to check myself out in the mirror. There I meet another woman in a suit who asks me if I'm interviewing with Bilby Flights, too. She's just come back from the Maldives and has the interview before mine. I wish her luck. A company like this interviews to fill a class, and it would be nice to have another women in the class.
I see her again later. She went over to reception early and her interview is over already. Mine isn't scheduled yet, but I go do the same thing. I'm glad it's not too hot today, as I walk along the service road in my suit and girl shoes to find the right office. It's easy to find. They're also interviewing for receptionists which makes an interesting contrast between the dark conservative suits the pilots are wearing and the fluffy women with colourful nail polish filling out pre-employment questionaires in the waiting room.
I'm led around airside to get to the chief pilot's office. He's really nice and the interview goes well. There are no technical questions. They are all questions to determine how I would fit in with the operation. I think I would, and I think I managed to demonstrate that with my answers, Not knock it out of the park well, some of my answers were a little wandering, but he seems to take most things well.
I can see that he has written a question mark on his interview sheet where he is taking notes on my answers. I wonder if it's a question he has about me or if he's just drawn it in response to his own asking, "any questions?" I ask him about how the company is coping with fuel prices considering how thirsty the airplanes they are flying are. I'm hoping to hear that there are long term plans to move to a more fuel-efficient airplane, and there may be, but they do contract flying such that the client pays for fuel, Nice.
After the interview I have the pleasure of meeting another sometimes-aviation blogger, Connie. I read her blog before I started blogging. She has moved on to a new blog more about music and less about airplanes, but answered my email and agreed to this meeting. I've put away the suit and changed into jeans and runners and am now scrutinizing everyone to see if they might be her. I probably should have looked at her current blog for recent photographs instead of going by my memory of photos from the old one! But we found each other and she takes me to a pub on the water, named after an animal, where we chat about being women in aviation and enjoy a good view and good food. I think it's tougher being a woman in maintenance than in the cockpit because even the densest male pilot has figured out that flying isn't about brute strength, but there are still a lot of strength-based tasks in maintenance. I imagine there are very few women maintenance engineers who are not the only one in their shop, always setting the standard for their male colleagues for what women can do in that field.
If nothing else comes of this trip, I've met someone interesting, and will have a positive memory to take away At the end of the meal I have the fun of buying her lunch. She's all surprised and protesting, but I assure her that free lunches are one of the benefits of blogging. I've received a few, so it's only fair that I pass on my good fortune.