Life Travel Pilot and social media star, 25-year-old Maria Fagerström is flying high
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Pilot and social media star, 25-year-old Maria Fagerström is flying high

swedish pilot
At 25 years old, Maria has had her fair share of passengers who doubt her qualifications. Photo: Supplied
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With almost 300,000 followers on Instagram, it’s fair to say Maria Fagerström, 25, a Canary Islands-based, Swedish-born pilot, is soaring online as well as in real life.

In a male-dominated aviation industry − women make up only five per cent of all commercial pilots − Ms Fagerström says she has never encountered sexism from her colleagues, either on the flight deck or from the cabin crew.

The same cannot always be said of the people whose lives she holds in her more than capable hands.

“I’ve had passengers asking me if I’m old enough to fly, or telling me they feel safer when a man is behind the controls,”Ms Fagerström says.

“Having a peek into the cockpit after the flight, thanking us for landing safely, ‘even though there was a woman flying’.”

Her sky-high ambitions took off early in life. Her father, also a pilot, would jet Ms Fagerström and her sisters around the world in in the cockpit jump seat.

“My dad has always been my role model and inspiration. I fell in love with aviation, flying and traveling to experience new destinations and cultures.”

The doubts of others have never held her back. While she has always had the support of her family and the majority of her mates, there were a few naysayers.

“I’ve had people laughing out loud to my face when telling them I was training to become a pilot, not believing that I could do it. But I’ve chosen to turn those moments into my biggest motivation instead and prove to them that I could.”

Dedication was never a problem. Ms Fagerström studied for her pilot license while still at high school. “I did two educations at once,” she says. “It was difficult at times, but I’ve always been goal-oriented and I’ve never doubted that flying was what I wanted to do.”

Ms Fagerström was accepted for a government-funded position at aviation school at the age of 18. She now has almost two years’ experience as a commercial pilot, keeping track of her travels on her popular Instagram account @Mariathepilot.

She hopes documenting her career on the social media platform will encourage more women to follow suit.

“There are those days when the weather is challenging, approaches demanding and you land with a maximum crosswind, and your ability gets tested to the edge,” she says.

“But I can’t possibly choose which one I like the most. I like the challenging days just as much as the calm and easy days.”

Flight bag ✔️ Backpack ✔️ Uniform ✔️ GoPro ✔️ All ready – let's fly ✌️😎

A post shared by Maria Fagerström | B737 Pilot (@mariathepilot) on

The only time she has faced a mid-air emergency was during her training. An engine blew up while circling the airfield, but Ms Fagerström kept her cool.

“My instructor was next to me and together we landed the aircraft safely,” she says.

“I never tend to worry about what might happen. If something does happen, there are always procedures to follow and trained pilots with a set goal of taking their passengers and aircraft to the ground safely.”

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