The World’s Worst Flying Job Interview

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 5 seconds

I once interviewed for a company where the interviewer’s goal seemed to be to bang off every single illegal job interview question in one sitting. Have a gander at this list.

“How old are you?”

“Are you married?”

“Do you guys have kids? Are you going to?”

“Are you from Canada?”

The questions themselves seem harmless enough, almost as though someone is taking a personal, neighborly interest in you. However, it’d be incredibly naive to take them as anything other than a blatant attempt at discrimination. It was one of those moments where you’re answering the questions without hesitation because you’re young, dumb, and desperate for a job. Those questions, those grabs at finding a reason to deny my application should have been taken as a major red flag for what was to come, but again, young and dumb.

Female applicants were more likely to report being asked about their desire to have a family than male applicants (32% vs. 3%, respectively, p = 0.041)… gender discrimination in the residency interview has not been eradicated… Community and academic programs appear to ask similar numbers and types of potentially illegal questions.

Hessel, Kara, et al. “Have We Come as Far as We Had Hoped? Discrimination in the Residency Interview.” Journal of Surgical Education, vol. 74, no. 6, 2017, pp. 939–945., doi:10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.04.003.

We know that women are far more likely to be asked illegal questions in job interviews than men. And in my case, asked outright, with no sugar-coating or hiding behind flowery words. And the person interviewing me was a woman as well (!), which gave it even more of a what the hell factor.

I’m saving the best for last though. That by far was not the worst question I was asked.

It started off innocent enough. “Do you have any siblings?” I’m sort of 50/50 on whether I answer this in a grey zone, or if I’m completely honest. Sometimes you just don’t want to get into having lost your only sibling with a total stranger. On this day though, I chose to be candid.

I explained to the interviewer that yes, I have a brother, but unfortunately had lost him in an aviation related accident.

She stared at me, and without skipping a beat or expressing an ounce of sympathy said, “Well, will this affect how you work? Will that happen to you?”

Just, what. The. Heck.

How can someone, a stranger no less, without knowing any information or details surrounding my little brother’s accident, ask me if I was going to have an accident too?

I don’t at all like to paint people, even seemingly insensitive people, with the same color brush. Labeling others on the first meeting can be a BIG detriment to yourself, as it closes you off from expanding your mindset and being open to having it challenged. But you do have to wonder, what life experiences has this woman had to make her so uncaring? What happened to make her a person who so blatantly disregards the same laws that this country has put into place to protect women such as herself?

I suppose we’ll never really know the answer. My lesson was learned: cheer on and support the companies that avoid dabbling in the wrong side of the law, and who conduct far more professional interviews. Be an advocate for women and men in the industry, teaching them what they do and do not have to tolerate in order to get, or keep, a job.

Those companies and chief pilots are out there – and man are they awesome! God bless ’em.

As always, big THANK YOU to those reading! Slap me with a comment down below, I absolutely adore reading through them.

xx, Shavs

The real, no-bullshit reason why I became a pilot, part 2

An old family friend, and someone actually once very close to my little brother, reached out to me. She asked if I wanted to go for a plane ride.

This is part two of my story on why I actually became a pilot, complete with photos at the end. For returning readers, thank you for reading part 1. For all those who reached out and let me know how my tale has impacted you, your words greatly touched me and gave me the motivation to keep on writing.

If you’re new here, welcome. Read part 1 at this link. Warning: it’s sad. This part is by far the happier part, so try and make it this far once more.

And so it begins…

You’ll remember from the previous half of this story that, at this point in my life, I was in a deeply bad place. I was zombie-ing my way through my university studies, avoiding anything social, and especially not doing anything to heal from my loss. Each day felt like a painful, pointless blur.

So when someone meaningful to my family reached out and offered to take me up for a joy ride in a C172, I was floored. I could not comprehend sitting behind the controls of the same type of aircraft that my brother’s life ended in. Flying again as an expression of joy, and not grief, was a distant, foreign concept. I was not ready, and did not want to be ready. Yet, I accepted the offer.

To this day I am actually not positive about why I agreed to the flight. It might have been a thoughtless choice, out of impulse, as many of my decisions around that time period seemed to be. Maybe a deeper feeling was at play beneath the surface. Whatever it was, I’ll likely never fully understand. That single, simple “OK,” changed my life.

The flight was stunning. The clouds held a special warm glow for me, their shape swirling up in shapes I had never witnessed before. We had the GoPro rolling on this morning, a third witness to the majesty of flight before us. Circling over our home airport, I joked about spicing the flight up, maybe doing a loop. My pilot laughed, but wouldn’t oblige. Dang it, I thought.

And just like that, I was having fun. Laughing AND enjoying myself for the first time in years! I had never have felt more closer to Heaven and the souls of our dearly departed. It was a very moving moment for me, although complicated emotionally.

Before long, the flight was over. The plane’s wheels softly touched down once more onto the pavement, my heart and soul left above. My mind was racing with the decision it had made. I wanted to fly again, and to carry on what my brother had started. I would become a private pilot like he had dreamed of becoming.

On an interesting and slightly unrelated side note: it was also on this day that I met my future life partner and husband Chirag. This day just held so much good for me and I didn’t even know it at it time.

With my parent’s very generous financial backing, and their blessing, I began flight lessons in earnest. Some flights were very, very hard for me. There were times where my imagination would wander off to my brother’s last moments, and I could not do much but cry. On solo flights, I would stubbornly head out west, circling over his crash site mindlessly.

Other flights were an absolute joy. Spins for example became a happy obsession of mine. I wouldn’t want to finish a lesson without a few! Other lessons I found incredibly frustrating (diversions, ugh!), but all flights held meaning for me. Each flight was a leap closer to my brother Lorne’s dream.

I crossed the emotional mountain range in 2015, finally earning my private pilot’s license. Our private pilot’s license, for it felt like Lorne’s achievement too.

I was immensely grateful for all of the trials and tribulations I had undergone, as the end result was a calmer, happier, and more adaptable pilot. There wasn’t, and still isn’t, too much that can rattle me save for running out of coffee before takeoff. Flying holds deep meaning for me. It brings me closer to Heaven, fuels my own self-confidence, fills me with wonder, and is carrying on the dream of someone I very much hold dear. I think I’ll always be a part of this world of aviation, I cannot imagine it any other way.

Thanks for reading everyone – and God bless. Enjoy the photos at the end!

xx

Shavs

The real, no-bullshit reason why I became a pilot, part 1

(Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds)

That is the most common question you’ll hear as an aviator. “So, why did you get into flying?” “What made you decide to become a pilot?”

I have my generic, canned answer, and I have my true answer. You are going to come to know the true answer.

Truth be told, I have not shared with many my journey to becoming a pilot. The road was not particularly easy or pleasant, and maybe that makes it more worthwhile to share. I’d like to add my voice to the multitude out there to show you that people from all culturals, traumas, and struggles can become a pilot. You do not need to have the perfect life or have amassed incredible wealth.


My Dad had once worked as a pilot in his younger years, and was trying very hard to pass down his love of aviation to his teenage kids, my younger brother and myself. Truth be told, I wasn’t too interested at first. I had school to worry about, and it didn’t align with my career goals. However, when my little brother started flying, it didn’t take long for me to become jealous. It looked cool, fun, and challenging. I wanted to get in on the fun too! And so, in Grade 12 of highschool, I began flying C152s and working on my private pilot’s license.

I was a lost soul in highschool. Self-conscious and depressed, in my mind I has nothing that made me special. Flying changed that. For the first time in my life, I was special. I was going to be a pilot. I was unique! I had something that maybe, just maybe, I would be good at and enjoy the rest of my life.

However, this feeling of bliss was not going to make its home with me for very long. Throughout my life, my parents had struggled with unresolved anger problems, and finally it was coming to a head. Shortly after I had graduated Grade 12, one small mistake culminated into a violent confrontation, and I got out. I left my home.

A newly graduated girl with no home, no money, and no education, had no business dreaming about being a pilot. I stomped on that dream, putting it far away for the time being. It was time for me to focus on getting back on my feet.

Misfortune was not done with my family and I just quite yet. For the second time, tragedy came around and reared it’s ugly, raw maw. My little brother, my perfectionist, my hilarious little annoying-as-heck but you love them all the same younger sibling, the only human who shared some traumatic experiences with me and understood my struggles, went missing. I got a call while on a mini vacation, and immediately made my way home. Time slowed.

Search and Rescue, as well as a group of civilian volunteers, searched by foot and air. These people are honest to God angels, and I am touched to this day how many pilots volunteered to scour the rough Canadian country for any sign of the wreckage.

And I say wreckage, for my brother went missing while flight training.

It felt like much, much longer, but as far as days and hours go, it wasn’t long before the crash site containing what once was the funniest and most remarkable person in the world to me was found. And that’s it, he was gone. No more would we reminisce about flying aircraft on Flight Simulator together as kids, or talk about how we used to play in the wild woods of Northern BC. God had ‘im now, and I was madder than hell.

The next few years are numb. I stopped wearing any colour, I was in and out of therapy. I hated people, I hated pilots, I hated airplanes, airports and flight schools. I hated enjoying myself and having fun, betraying the memory of my little brother by daring to live. Life stopped, and I would not let it go on any further.

Even so, winter does not last forever, and neither did mine. My spring eventually came, and the first metaphorical blossom on my tree was one, singular event.

An old family friend, and someone actually once very close to my little brother, reached out to me. She asked if I wanted to go for a plane ride.


To be continued…

xx

Shavs