An Inspiring Captain in the Skies
By Katy Chahal
Katy is Founder and contributing story writer at The WiAA Project
It is always very exciting to see a Female Pilot at the helm of the cockpit controls or at an airport, which stirs an emotion of pride. This is simply because there are very few women pilots in the aviation workforce. Did you know that in 2019, there are only approximately 5% of women pilots in the world?
To kickstart our launch, we would like to share a very inspiring story of Captain Norashikin who currently flies for a commercial airline based in Malaysia. She already has had so much publicity she is practically an industry celebrity. She has even been included in school text books here in Malaysia as an inspiration to young readers !
Captain Norashikin started flying 30 years ago and has not looked back. As a child, she loved the idea of flying and also thought of wanting to be an astronaut. Her inspiration was Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. (see other stories on “What ever happened to Amelia Earhart”?)
The WiAA Project Team had the pleasure of meeting up and interviewing Captain Norashikin to chat and get real & personal, and to feel her mannerism. Despite being such a industry celebrity, she is rather camera shy.
In person, she possesses very feminine attributes, is soft spoken, and humble. She looked smart in her crisp black suit and white shirt and made her stand tall despite her petite frame.
Let's look at some very impressive facts about Captain Norashikin.
She did her flying training alongside pursuing her degree in Performance Arts in the USA.
She has a lot of Firsts to her name:
1996 – First Female Pilot for Commercial Airlines in Malaysia.
1999 – First Woman to qualify & receive Airline Transport Pilot License in Malaysia, which is issued by Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation.
2001 – First Female Flight Commander / Captain for Commercial Airlines in Malaysia.
2001 – First Female Flight Commander / Captain at Pelangi Airways.
2009 – First Female Flight Commander / Captain at Air Asia Berhad.
2012 – First Female Flight Commander / Captain for Wide Body Aircraft for Commercial Airlines in Malaysia.
She has also made many media appearances and won a series of merits and awards.
1996 – Women Achievement Award (Wanita Harapan Selangor) – Selangor State Government.
1997 – Special Youth Award 1997 (Anugerah Khas Belia), Majlis Belia Malaysia (Selangor).
1998 – Named 10 Most Respected Women in Malaysia by Her World Magazine.
2005 – Women Achievement Award (Sepuluh Tokoh Wanita Profesional Negeri Selangor) by HAWA, Women Organization in Selangor.
2007 – Nominated ‘Great Women of Our Time Award’ (Science & Technology category) by Women Weekly Magazine
2012 – Women of Honor Award (Anugerah Kesatria Puteri), National Young Women’s Gathering 2012 by the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
2016 – Awarded as one of the 10 Amazing Women of 2016 by Marie Claire Malaysia.
2016 – Conferred the honor & award of ‘Darjah Pangkuan Seri Melaka’ which carries the title of ‘Datuk’
At the interview we posed questions to understand her and the role better so as to gain more insight and knowledge for our readers and especially for those who may be inspired to be pilots someday.
In becoming a pilot, the process is quite a journey! One needs to obtain a PPL (private pilot’s licence) and a CPL (Commercial pilot’s licence) thereafter. (See our other stories “So you want to be a pilot” for the process and relevant links.)
When asked how she felt when she walks into the flight deck each time, she claims she feels a sense of high responsibility and tries to remain calm and composed before she starts her duties. Throughout the duration of the flight, pilots have to keep an eye on the instruments, actively listen to the ATC (Air Traffic Control), and be ready to make decisions if required to ensure a safe outcome. This is clearly a role that commands tremendous responsibility. She loves her job and performs it with so much pride and dedication.
In terms of the current industry situation as a result of Covid-19, she believes the market for travel will remain and that the industry will bounce back, hence there will always be a need for pilots.
Her take on The WiAA Project and advice to women:
She feels that this initiative can open up a whole lot of perspective to young ladies for not just becoming a pilot but also other careers in aviation such as sky chefs, flight attendants, engineers, air rescue amongst many others.
“Do not be afraid to try. Nothing is impossible. If there is a will, there is a way”- Captain Norashikin