Women in Aviation: All in the family
By Anna Pangrazzi
Flying is not always a family affair. It has been my experience with selling airplanes for more than 30 years, that not everyone will share a pilot’s passion or thrill for flying. Sometimes, it becomes a solitary hobby. My close friend and colleague, Denise Egglestone, however, has had a very different experience. In fact, her entire family has the aviation bug.
By Anna Pangrazzi
Denise received her flight training very early and at a time that her job prospects weren’t ideal – but that didn’t stop her. She knew from an early age that she wanted to work for Air Canada (AC) and started working in the parts department as a purchaser back in 1978. She became a ground school instructor and eventually went on to work as a flight dispatcher, a position she has held for the past 20 years.
The Egglestone family is truly an aviation wonder. Denise’s husband Jim flies for AC and her daughter, Lauren, is a Seneca aviation graduate and is flying for Missinippi Airways in The Pas, Man. Her son, Ian, is also currently in flight training. As Denise says, the aviation industry offers many great career opportunities on a number of levels. Wings recently sat down with Denise to get her perspective on career options, challenges she has faced, the industry make up and more.
Why did you choose a career in aviation?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to work for AC. My dad worked in the cargo department and I remember going to work with him on Saturdays, roaming around the warehouse and climbing onto the DC-8 freighters.
Did you have any role models and/or mentors?
I didn’t really have any role models when I was younger. In fact when I was in my teens, I really wanted to be a pilot and I was told it was “impossible.” But I loved hearing about the flying and travel from a pilot friend of my parents. And one day, a friend of mine said he was taking flying lessons and I said sign me up. I was hooked right away. Later, when I was transferred to Toronto, I became a member of the Ninety-Nines, the international organization of women pilots, and many of them became my role models and mentors.
What kind of challenges have you had to deal with?
Many of the challenges I had in my early career are quite different than what my daughter has to deal with now. As a charter pilot, I had to share accommodations with the men and some tried to rattle me by walking around barely clothed. That wouldn’t happen today. A pilot refused to fly with me once because his wife wouldn’t allow it. When I became the first female flight operations instructor at AC, I got a lot of negative feedback such as, “they must have had no one else apply if they hired a woman!” I learned to ignore a lot. The challenges I face today are being able to coordinate and prioritize workload and to keep up with the huge amount of rules and regulations to ensure I have done my part to have my aircraft leave on schedule.
How do you describe your professional style?
I like to work collaboratively. We work 12-hour shifts and I like to use all the resources we have including my colleagues because you can’t know everything about all things all the time. Learning doesn’t stop once you have the certificate.
What advice would you give and what needs to be done to get more women in the field?
Don’t take no for an answer! And if you don’t like the answers you get, find someone else to ask. Join the organizations that work to mentor like Women in Aviation and the Ninety-Nines.
There is a perception that non-traditional jobs in aviation are inherently difficult and we need to focus on and showcase those women who are successful in their careers. We also need to teach networking. Sometimes women believe that they cannot achieve both personal and professional goals. Young women need to talk to people who are successfully balancing both goals.
Anna Pangrazzi is the president of Apex Aviation Sales Ltd. and Wings women in aviation specialist.