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News > Old Girls' Association > Spotlight on Victoria Bottomley

Spotlight on Victoria Bottomley

Victoria Bottomley HC 2012 is now a First Officer flying aircraft with EasyJet out of Liverpool to destinations all over Europe. We caught up with her on her day off to ask about her experiences…

Interviewed for OGA Chain magazine 2019

So what inspired you to be an airline pilot?
“I went to Royal Holloway and studied English Literature but even though my Dad was a pilot for BA it wasn’t something I’d thought I’d pursue. Later, I saw a documentary on female pilots in the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) who were totally awe-inspiring, so I investigated life as a military pilot but eventually chose commercial aviation. I was finally accepted into flight school on my third attempt and heard the good news whilst working in the editorial team at the publisher Penguin Random House. I’d only been there six months and dreaded telling my boss but, as a flying enthusiast, he was delighted for me that I’d been accepted and ran around the office telling everybody.”

How many hours a week do you work?
“We are capped at 100 hours flying per month due to fatigue and other negative effects of flying on the body. I usually have four days on and three days off but this can increase to five on and two off during the Summer when it’s much busier. My timetable changes all the time depending on delays, staffing issues, passenger emergencies and technical faults. A typical day might see me fly from Liverpool to Jersey and back in the morning followed by Liverpool to Barcelona and back in the afternoon. We fly to most major destinations in Europe.” 

Can you tell us about one of these unscheduled changes?
“There was one occasion where a passenger had a psychotic break on board and we knew they would receive the best medical help down on the ground. We were flying back from Palma to Liverpool but quickly Victoria Bottomley HC 2012 is now a First Officer flying aircraft with EasyJet out of Liverpool to destinations all over Europe. We caught up with her on her day off to ask about her experiences…decided to land at Bordeaux instead, as that was the nearest airport at the time.  Unfortunately, there was only a skeleton crew available at Bordeaux airport and the refueller took over two hours to arrive.  This delay meant our captain reached his maximum legal flying hours so everybody had to be put up in a hotel overnight and flown back the next day.” 

What are your career ambitions?
“I’d like to become a captain, which usually takes around six years with EasyJet. There are lots of options open to you as you progress - you could train others, run a base or work in safety, for example.”

How many women are in the industry?
“Female airline pilots currently represent 4% of pilots worldwide but EasyJet currently employ around 6% and increasing. When I first started my Ground School training there were 20 of us and I was one of only three girls. Later on, when I came to take my MPL (multi-pilot licence), I was the only female in a group of eight. Now I’m one of 10 women flying from Liverpool. It has taken me just under two years to qualify and one of the most important things I’ve learnt is to have confidence in myself and my abilities.”

What did your time at St Swithun’s teach you?
“It taught me that I could do anything if I wanted it enough and to pursue something I had a passion for. Being a boarder helped me learn the value of teamwork and pulling together to achieve a common goal - that’s something I draw upon every time I’m in the cockpit with my crew.” 

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