BAA Training continues its series of unique and engaging interviews with #WomenInAviation devoted to Women of Aviation Week (WOAW) and raising awareness about females who are successfully making their place in the aviation industry. Today’s interlocutor is a 32-year-old Iva Matikj, current student pilot at BAA Training and the first military and helicopter pilot in Macedonia. Her breathtaking experience and valuable insights can hardly leave anyone indifferent.
Joining women of aviation
What is your aviation background? What stage of your training are you at the moment?
My aviation background started in 2012 when I applied for a pilot on call the Macedonian army was looking for. I and three others were the only ones of a group of 100 that passed the thorough assessment. From this point, I enrolled in a one-and-a-half-year training and finally became a pilot on the Mi-17/8 in the Macedonian Airforce. After seven years in the army, a new opportunity came by. I successfully applied for a position as Cadet Pilot at Wizz Air through BAA Training. Currently, I am finishing IFR on a single-engine airplane.
When was the first time you thought: “It’s decided – I want to be a pilot!“?
This idea was in my thoughts for a while. It started in high school, but I did not have the opportunity at the moment. Later on, just after I graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies in Skopje, the Ministry of Defense’s first call came out after a long period without seeking new pilots. And I knew that it was the right opportunity for me.
How did your parents react to your decision to pursue a pilot career?
Because it was a military pilot career, they were not convinced it was the right place for me. But when I passed every step of the selection (it was an exhaustive 4-month selection process), they supported me greatly. As a result, they are proud parents of the first female military pilot and the first female helicopter pilot in Macedonia.
Studying at BAA Training
What do you like most about your studies at BAA Training academy and why?
I would say the flying, of course. No matter which type of aircraft, I like the process of getting to know the new type of aircraft and, of course, the views from the cockpit. I also value all the moments, friendships, and relations I have with the people I met here in Spain and Lithuania. We are like a family.
What kind of challenges are you facing while training to be a pilot so far? Don’t they decrease your willingness to fly commercial aircraft in the future (if that is your ultimate goal)?
I found the theory part quite intense because of the tight schedule without much free time, which lasted 8 months. That is all. Still, I had my first flying training 8 years ago, so I am familiar with most of the things during the flight. The only challenge in this unprecedented time is maybe the worldwide pandemic situation. On the other hand, I am getting closer and closer to fly with the big bird with every stage that I leave behind, so I can’t wait!
How do you imagine your future in the role of a pilot? What type of aircraft would you like to fly? Which destinations would you like to explore?
I imagine a fantastic future, flying a lot to different destinations with the Airbus A320.
Motivations and motivators
Who is your biggest supporter, and where do you get your motivation from?
My family and a couple of my friends, my closest people.
My motivation comes from the pleasures in everyday flying. Flying at a cloudless night beneath the sky full of stars or flying over a stratus layer. At such moments, all sense of the planet disappears, and you are flying alone over a forgotten cloud bank, somewhere in the solitude of the interstellar space. Then there are the magnificent purple sunsets and always different mornings when the Sun is rising… And many more views that I can talk about for hours.
Women of aviation
In your opinion, does aviation need more women, and why? What can be done to attract more women to aviation?
Aviation needs capable pilots, no matter which gender, race, religion, sexual orientation they are. But by increasing the diversity, we are bridging the gender gap in the aviation industry, making the working environment more pleasant and accessible for everyone. To have more women in aviation and every other industry and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, we need to have more public appearances of female role models. We should do it through TV, books, movies, social media, and the day-to-day environment. Also, we should encourage girls to build their confidence and a positive mindset from a young age by surrounding them with female leaders and exposing them to STEM areas (programming, mathematics, astronomy, aviation…).
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” – if we all work together, we can bridge any gap, not only the gender one.
What is your favorite movie or a book related to aviation and/or famous pilots?
I have so many, but in general, they are space movies and books.
Movies: “Interstellar”, “Captain Marvel”, “Top Gun”, “Hotshots”…😊
Books: “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” by Chris Hadfield, “Yeager, an autobiography” by Chuck Yeager…
Famous pilots: the night witch – Nadezhda Popova, Amelia Earhart, Sabiha Gökçen. Maybe it is not a well-known fact, but Sabiha Gökçen was the world’s first female fighter pilot.
A piece of advice
What would you advise a girl who dreams of becoming a pilot but is puzzled because this path seems to be just too drastic?
I would advise them to go ahead and follow their dreams. If the path is difficult and drastic, then the success and career will be even greater at the end of it. By walking a tough path, they will blaze a trail for future young girls just like them, making their journey even more worthwhile.