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Meet Brittany Pink aka ‘The Pink Aviatrix’

Pink uses her social media channels to post inspirational and practical tips on how to get into the aviation industry, such as “How to choose a flight school” and “Setting SMART goals for aviation,” along with sharing her own stories of life and flying. She’s passionate about the industry and serves as a great example for other women looking to have a successful career in aviation. She also shares lifestyle and cooking tips, and dives into more personal issues that deal with being a Black female pilot.

In honor of Women’s History Month, AOPA reached out to Pink to find out what aviation for women looks like outside the United States.

How did you first become interested in aviation?

When I was 9 years old, I wanted to be a flight attendant but that changed when I went to high school. I used to be able to see crop dusters from living really close to the sugarcane fields here in Jamaica. I later found out that my father wanted to be a pilot but was discouraged by a teacher at high school. I used to write on tissues, napkins, and in the back of books: “My name is Brittany Pink. I am 14 years old. In the future, I will become a Pilot.” I stuck one of these tissues on my bedroom wall and it looks gross now, but I still have it. Then I discovered I had two cousins who were pilots and got a Sabreliner airplane tour from one of them when I was 17 years old. That sealed the deal for me, and I decided to be a pilot instead.

What is your favorite thing about aviation?

Airplanes! Freedom! Control!

What is it like being a flight data processor and a pilot?

As a flight data processor who assists air traffic controllers to do their jobs, my job involves coordinating with surrounding airspaces on the estimates—time, flight level, squawk code, etc.—of aircraft that are about to enter or leave our airspace. It’s nice to have a view outside of the cockpit, watching the airplanes as dots on the screen, listening to the pilots, and knowing what they are potentially doing and saying after each instruction. I think it’s an excellent job with awesome responsibility, so I’m glad that we leave work at work lol (or can’t take the work home with us)! Having an understanding of these two sides of aviation makes me a more rounded aviatrix.

What was your biggest fear getting into aviation?

I can’t think of a fear I had before I started. However, during my flight training I had developed a touch of vertigo from flying two and three times a day, since my body was not used to the various maneuvers we had to do. I thought it wouldn’t go away and I would not be able to fly again, which was a scary thought. After a few days of not flying, exercise and rest it eventually went away.

What is your ultimate goal in aviation?

My short-term goal is completing my aerodrome/tower controller course. I also intend to work on additional certificates and ATC ratings. I want to help the redevelopment of general aviation in Jamaica through strategic partnerships and raising awareness of the aviation industry and its many avenues for young people. Maybe we can make a new national airline as well! Ultimately, I’d love to be able to fly a Gulfstream, but I’m open to wherever this journey takes me.

How did you come up with the idea for ‘The Pink Aviatrix’?

People don’t believe me that my last name is Pink, but it really is! With a look of shock on their faces, people would say things like:

“I’ve never heard that name before!”

“Is that your real name?”

“You must have a lot of pink clothes!”

“Is pink your favorite color?” Insert song by Prince here. My favorite color is teal.

It’s a play on my name and an ode to my father for giving me the name and his interest in aviation—but also it represents women in aviation since pink is traditionally used to represent women and girls.

Who are your aviation role models?

One cousin in particular who is also an airframe and powerplant mechanic (A&P) would always advise me to take jobs in aviation if I really wanted to be in the field since it’s all connected. I’ve seen him come back from all the setbacks aviation has experienced in our time. From the recession in 2008, Sept. 11th, and now this pandemic—he’s currently a drone pilot. He has helped me stay motivated and aware of all the possibilities that the industry and future hold for me. And my father for being the source of my passion, though he didn’t tell me his aviation story until I became interested. My mother too, since she has always encouraged and prayed for me and she’s the one who showed me the ATC job application, which really set my whole aviation career in motion.

What are your thoughts on diversity in aviation?

It’s about time! I’m so happy we live in a time where all persons, no matter their race, class, or creed, can be exposed to aviation. There was a time that it was thought Black people didn’t have the aptitude to fly or do anything in aviation, let alone women. I love that aviation is becoming more diversified, and I hope to continue to inspire more women and girls to consider the various careers in aviation, as viable avenues for pursuing passion and personal advancement.

What advice do you have for other women interested in pursuing careers in aviation?

Go for it! There was a time we weren’t even allowed and were actually barred from applying for aviation jobs. The first female captain of Air Jamaica Captain Maria Ziadie-Haddad had to apply several times before being accepted. The request for pilots actually had “men only” or “no women allowed” or something similar. Therefore, women of today are walking a path that has been carved out for us, by the women before us who broke barriers—through the clouds—and fought for our place in aviation. We can honor their efforts by getting involved and paying it forward.

What is aviation like in Jamaica compared to the United States?

We have mountains! As compared to flying in Florida, for example, where it is mostly flat, this was a big difference to me having done most of my flight training in the United States. I have also always heard that Air Jamaica had the best pilots in the world, which is attributable to the complexities of flying in Jamaica (terrain and weather), as well as just the pride we have as a people. In terms of the airline industry, sadly we no longer have a national airline, but we have other Caribbean operators, as well as international airlines that traverse our airspace as well as land at our international airports. General aviation in Jamaica fluctuates quite a bit in terms of flight schools and availability of aircraft. However, there has been some positive development recently, since we just had a new flight school open.

What is your favorite memory that involves aviation?

I was always fascinated by the crop dusters fertilizing the cane fields near my home here in Jamaica. The bright yellow airplanes and how low they would fly to spray the cane.

How are you handling the current situation with COVID-19?

The aviation industry itself has taken a severe beating. COVID-19 has made me more grateful, even though life has become much more challenging. I cope however, by staying close (online mostly) to family, friends, and my ATC work crew. Our shift is known as the food shift, so we cook and bake a lot and take it to work for each other like potluck, and of course I love my job! I’m so thankful and blessed to in an industry that I love. Creating “The Pink Aviatrix” on YouTube and Instagram has also helped, because I’ve connected with many other established and upcoming aviation professionals/groups like Aviation Club of Jamaica, Aeronautical School/Club of the West Indies, Lady Aviators, Women Rock Wings, and Women With Wings among others. It has helped me to still talk about flying and relive my flight training experience, while helping others.

Thoughts on the aviation and pilot community on social media?

I love it! This has been what has kept a lot of us; being able to connect, collaborate, and inspire each other to keep going despite the challenges.

What inspires you?

I’m generally a passionate person, so the ability to work on something that I love and grow while doing it is what inspires me. Whether it’s aviation, dance, or learning to play the drums, developing my God-given gifts, using them to help others, and setting and achieving goals inspire me.

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