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May 2019

Pilots in Profile

Heather McCann
The Australian Captain in NetJets' Challenger 350 fleet talks molecular biology, Ducatis and training for a triathlon.
My first exposure to flying was... when my grandfather worked for Qantas as an engineer and he took me around the hangars. I was fascinated. I had been on passenger flights when I was young, but the moment I knew I wanted to be a pilot was being flown in a small four-seater up the coast of New South Wales. It was a moment of “I’ve got to do this!”

The best part of flying is… the sense of freedom. The view is fantastic too.

Before joining the NetJets team, I was… a night freight pilot flying a turboprop around Europe. This is my second career: before flying I was a university laboratory technician working in biology. My speciality was genetics and molecular biology. While that was a very interesting job and I managed a world-first discovery, the budget cuts meant it would no longer be fun. So I packed my bags and travelled to the other side of Australia to be a bush pilot. After that I was a Coastwatch pilot out of Broome in Western Australia looking for illegal fishing boats, among many things. Then the usual turboprop jobs on the east coast of Australia before packing my bags again and heading to the UK when I was 35.

The one day at NetJets I won’t forget was… the first time I flew to Cairo and saw the pyramids. I studied ancient history at school and this was incredible. Having grown up in Australia, most of the stuff we read about happened in distant lands. Therefore, to see such a world-famous ancient monument in the flesh, so to speak, was truly amazing.

Quote OpenI knew I wanted to be a pilot was being flown in a small four-seater up the coast of New South Wales. It was a moment of “I’ve got to do this!”
Quote Closed
Heather McCann
On my days off… I love to go mountain bike riding with friends. I do work on fitness as it is important for our job, health and stress management. Nowadays I mix up the training with running, swimming and gym work. This allows me to enjoy my husband’s excellent cooking when he’s not flying for easyJet.

Within the next year I would like to… successfully complete a sprint triathlon. I had an attempt in September but an asthma attack during the swim leg hampered that race. As pilots, we’re paid to make sensible decisions and I wisely withdrew from the race. Winter will be spent getting fitter and stronger.

Within the next ten years, I would like to… stay on this fleet, given that I am very happy flying the Challenger. I would like to complete a Masters in aviation psychology and hopefully, head back to Australia to retire.

My best advice for staying sane across time zones is… stay hydrated and sleep whenever you can.

My proudest moment as a pilot was… the day I successfully passed my command line check and gained the fourth stripe at NetJets.


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