Shanyn Gilham is studying to become a pilot.
Shanyn Gilham is studying to become a pilot. Mike Knott BUN200819SHA3

Plane to see why Shanyn wants to earn her wings

AN INNES Park woman is close to completing a CQUniversity degree covering the theory of flying a plane, which brings her closer to achieving her dream to becoming a Qantas pilot.

Shanyn Gilham, 27, a Gurindji woman, has been a Qantas intern since last year, and works in Sydney for months at a time, while also studying to become a commercial pilot.

She could have been discouraged from pursuing her dream career while in primary school, when her class was asked to draw pictures of what they wanted to be.

Ms Gilham was told she could not be a firefigher or a pilot because those professions were "boys' jobs".

"That sort of annoyed me a bit," Ms Gilham said.

"I chased after the male predominant job and that kick-started the idea that I can be a pilot."

Ms Gilham was also inspired by her father, a fighter and test pilot in the airforce, and also by a visit to see a plane cockpit on a route from Sydney to Darwin when she was a child.

"They (the hostess) invited me to see the cockpit, and I was sitting down and I thought she said 'do you want to come see pikelets?' and I thought 'why would I want see pancakes for?'

"And I said 'okay, sure, why not?'"

This is her fourth year studying a Bachelors of Aviation Flight Operation, although the time also includes a former related degree she transferred from, but this was her hardest semester, in the lead-up to preparing for Civil Aviation Safety Authority exams.

She said her instructors seemed nervous about her interest in aircrash investigations.

"It's just made it so interesting, aviation, one little thing can go wrong and can cause everything else to go wrong," Ms Gilham said.

"It sounds bizarre to be inspired by it but it made aviation more interesting to study, because there's so many different factors involved, the human factors, like your health, like your pilot error, your mechanical error, and it takes so many different things to go wrong in the aircraft."

There has been one time that Ms Gilham was scared while flying and that was during a navigation exercise, when another pilot did not speak his intentions over the radio, which was an important thing to do in Class G airspace over places such as Bundaberg.

"I was scared then, but luckily he did miss me."

She has so far flown about 100 hours and describes the experience as "light" and "surreal".

"It's a surreal feeling getting off the ground. And you're also getting the adrenaline.

"You are defying physics, you are defying gravity.

"It's very different, I recommend a lot of people with a bucket list, to go do one lesson.

"It's very surreal for your first lesson, especially when you're rolling-turning the aircraft, and you see the ground, it's so close."



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