Georgian Armenian Nadezhda Benklyan, the only female pilot in Georgia, has been flying for six months now and has spent 600 hours in the air.
At 14, Benklyan decided to become a pilot after her father, and airman, allowed her to follow a flight from the cabin.
Before the plane will take off, Nadya checks the Embraer jet, which she has been piloting for six months. She takes to the cabin the thick atlases every pilot needs to make an emergency landing at a different airport.
“I turn on the operating system and the flight route. The boarding starts in 40 minutes, and passengers are allowed into the plane. We get permission from the flight operations officer to take off, which marks the start of the life in the air,” Nadya tells Public Radio of Armenia.
Piloting a plane has not been her childhood dream. Like many other girls, Nadya dreamed of being a singer or actress.
The first flight in the pilot’s cabin with her father – one of the best pilots in the history of independent Georgia – at the age of 14 encouraged her to make the decision. She started reading books about planes and pilots and watching videos.
“My mother was crying. She would say ‘I’m tired of looking into the air every day and waiting for your father’,” Nadya recalls.
After soft landings passengers express the wish to meet the pilot and admire seeing a girl, small and delicate.
For Nadya, landing is the most important part of the flight. “At such moments my passengers encourage me to further develop my capacities, to move forward and become the best.”
After the Embraer Benklyan plans to pilot a Boeing, other large planes, become a pilot-in-command.
“It’s my most cherished aspiration today, and I’m decisively moving towards my goal. I know the day is not far away,” Nadya says.
The only female pilot in Georgia was born in the city of Borzhomi and went to a Russian school, but her grandparents speak Armenian at home so that she can practice the language.
Moments before the plane will take off, Nadya says in Armenian. “Happy New Year and safe flights.”