LLeida-Alguaire Airport

Female Student Pilot Talks: Shivanthi Gunaratne


This week we start a special series of articles dedicated to #WomenInAviation week. This wonderful spring week commencing March 8th is celebrating women’s accomplishment of the feat of flying, and BAA Training felt a special call to explore and share stories of the women it has a close bond with. Today we are talking to Shivanthi Gunarane – an Ab Initio student at BAA Training academy who is letting us into what is going on in her as a female student pilot’s life “behind the scenes”.

How and why did you decide to become a pilot?

Growing up, I was fortunate to be around planes as my father was a Sri Lankan Air Force pilot. As a result, I was greatly influenced and inspired at a young age as I witnessed firsthand the level of responsibility, skill, and trust that a pilot earned.

Shivanthi at 3 years old. Photo from a personal album.

Even though I was keen on becoming a pilot, I continued to study other fields, and it was only when I was 20 that I realized that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else but aviation.

I am intrigued by the level of responsibility and trust that follows the job of a pilot. Individuals, their families, and loved ones, who have no idea who you are, trust your skill and expertise to take them from one destination to another safely. This is a great motivating factor for me as it enhances the value and purpose of the job.

How did your friends and family react to the decision?

Initially, there were many concerns with my decision to pursue a career in aviation as it is not very common that a girl chooses such a field in my culture. Thus, I continued to study other fields in order to explore my options. However, when I was certain that I couldn’t see myself pursuing a career in any other field but aviation, my family and friends were the greatest support system.

My family has always been my pillar of strength through all the obstacles before and during flight training. They continue to encourage and motivate me to bring out the best version of myself.

How is your training going so far?

I had successfully completed the ATPL ground school exams by the end of November 2020. Currently, I have moved to Lleida, Spain, to start my VFR phase of flight training.

After the last theory exam. Photo from a personal album

My first flight was on the 25th of February 2021, and it was a day to remember. As I had no previous flying experience, I finally felt how the plane’s movement corresponded to my actions on the flight controls, and it was truly surreal. Additionally, the endless fields of green and slanting rays of the setting sun from 3000ft truly made my first flight a remarkable and rewarding experience.