Exclusive CommunityCerita

I Faced Skepticism For Being A Female Pilot But I Proved Critics Wrong By Breaking Gender Stereotypes 

"Oh, female pilots? Do they have the skill to fly airplanes?"

Exclusive Story by WeirdKaya – Reproduction requires proper crediting and backlink to us. Kindly acknowledge the efforts of our editors in sourcing and conducting interviews.

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In the realm of aviation, where precision and dedication are paramount, Puteri Anggia Hamzah has charted a remarkable course.

At 36 years old, she stands as a testament to perseverance and passion, embodying the adage, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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Puteri anggia hamzah - senior first officer of airasia 2024
Provided to WeirdKaya

This is her story—a story that began in Negeri Sembilan, flourished in Shah Alam, Selangor, and soared to the skies with AirAsia.

Born in Negeri Sembilan and raised in Shah Alam, Puteri’s early years were a blend of ambition and determination.

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From engineer to aviator

Her academic journey took her to Tokyo Denki University in Japan, where she pursued Electrical and Electronics Engineering for three years under the sponsorship of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara). This solid foundation in engineering would later become the springboard for her aviation career.

In an exclusive interview with WeirdKaya, Puteri told us that her career with AirAsia began 12 years ago. Initially, she spent four years as a technical service engineer, mastering the intricacies of aircraft maintenance and systems.

Her transition from the hangar to the cockpit was not without challenges, but it was a testament to her resilience and commitment.

“When I applied for the cadet pilot program, there was a waiting period due to the extensive process. Once accepted, you need to secure some loans to fund your aviation school training, which takes about two years.

The program includes exposure to Airbus A320 for about four months before you can fly the actual aircraft with an instructor,” she recalls.

‘It has never been typical and never fixed’

Now serving as a Senior First Officer at AirAsia, Puteri’s workdays are anything but typical. 

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“There’s no typical workday because the timings are odd,” she explains.

“For example, there will be days where you have to wake up at 3 a.m. to be in the office by 5 a.m., with the flight departing 1 hour and 15 minutes later. It depends on the departure time. Sometimes, you have to wake up at 2 a.m. for early departures.

Other days, you might wake up at 9 a.m. For a 9 a.m. departure, you often work long hours, such as 12-hour shifts when flying to destinations like India or China.”

Have to be self-conditioned with irregular timings

Puteri anggia hamzah - senior first officer of airasia 2024
Provided to WeirdKaya

Balancing a high-stakes career with family life is challenging, but Puteri manages it with grace:

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“For me, being away from my family isn’t an issue since I come home every day. However, the irregular timing means I need help with taking care of my children and ensuring they get to school on time,” she shares.

Her in-laws play a crucial role in supporting her family life.

“I’m fortunate to have my in-laws staying with us, helping to care for my child when I’m not around.”

Recognising the unique challenges faced by working mothers, Puteri successfully advocated for the inclusion of breastfeeding covers in AirAsia’s uniforms. This initiative allows mothers to pump discreetly and comfortably, a pioneering move in the aviation industry.

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“AirAsia is the first airline to implement this, promoting inclusivity,” she proudly notes.

Often being looked down because I’m a woman who flies airplanes

Puteri anggia hamzah - senior first officer of airasia 2024
Provided to WeirdKaya

As a female pilot, Puteri often encounters skepticism.

“People often underestimate female pilots, questioning our ability to fly airplanes. Once, when passengers found out that both the captain and I were women, they doubted our capabilities.

They went: “Oh, female pilots? Do they have the skill to fly airplanes?”

But we landed the aircraft smoothly and safely. That’s what matters. Women can do it too; we have brains, we have the same neurons,” she asserts.

Despite facing such biases, Puteri has proven that she can excel in her career and maintain a fulfilling family life.

“Someone once questioned if I could start a family and have kids as a pilot. I proved them wrong; I am a pilot and I have a family,” she says.

Key responsibilities as pilots

Being a pilot involves significant responsibilities.

“Our main responsibility is to transport passengers from point A to point B efficiently and safely. We assess various situations, such as weather conditions, and carry extra fuel for contingencies like heavy rain or thunderstorms,” Puteri explains.

Women must be dare to dream too

Looking ahead, Puteri is optimistic about the increasing number of women in aviation.

“I’m so, so proud, It’s a positive development, and I look forward to flying with more female colleagues,” she says with pride. 

Reflecting on her journey, Puteri shares her proudest moment:

“Flying with my husband has been my proudest moment. Next, I hope to fly with my child.”

Her advice to aspiring female pilots is simple yet profound:

“It’s not easy, and you have to work hard to achieve your dreams. As Tony Fernandes says, ‘dare to dream.’”

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