Vietnamese-American woman blazes trail for female pilots

Nguyen Anh Thu, founder and president of the non-profit Women in Aerospace and Aviation, plans to circumnavigate the globe solo in her single-engine LANCAIR IV-P aeroplane from May 15 to July 1, covering nearly 50,000km. 

Thu reckons this would make her the first Vietnamese-American and eighth woman in history to do so. She speaks with Chau Yen and Quynh Hoa about her daring plan.

Intro:

Nguyen Anh Thu grew up in Tuy Hoa City in Phu Yen Province in Vietnam. As a young girl, she received her education from a UNICEF-built school. At the age of 12, she immigrated to the US. She has overcome innumerable challenges in her life. She was valedictorian at her high school and graduated top 10 at Purdue University with honour. Thu’s story is a typical immigrant story, but she transcends the model minority label and is aiming for something bigger.

Thu is founder and president of Women in Aerospace and Aviation, a non-profit organisation which focuses on inspiring the next generations of female pilots. Currently, she is an airline transport pilot and certified flight instructor at AeroVentures Flying Club in Atlanta.

She is also advancing her education by pursuing a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech.

Jetstar Pacific has first female Vietnamese captain
Women pilots blaze new career path
The first female pilots of Vietnam

Vietnamese-American woman blazes trail for female pilots
Nguyen Anh Thu, founder and president of the non-profit Women in Aerospace and Aviation, plans to travel solo in a single-engine aeroplane LANCAIR IV-P to 25 countries from May 15 to July 1, 2020. Photos womeninaerospaceandaviation.com

 
You plan to travel in a single-engine aeroplane to 25 countries, covering 26,800 nautical miles. What do you hope to achieve by completing such a feat?

I want my sky-conquering plan to help young girls and women with an interest in the aerospace and aviation field, as well as inspire them to believe in themselves to dream big. It is a global flight for every girl on this planet with a dream.

How are you preparing for the trip?

It has taken us about a year to prepare. Many things need to be prepared including licences, fuel efficiency, safety, maintenance, aeroplane equipment, weather forecast, and especially sponsorship.

At present, three sponsors Crew Dog Electronics, BOSE, and P- have agreed to work with us. The flight is estimated to cost US$1 million.

We have also opened a GoFundMe page for other people to visit, support and donate to our cause.

Vietnamese-American woman blazes trail for female pilots
Thu plans to travel solo in a single-engine aeroplane LANCAIR IV-P to 25 countries from May 15 to July 1, 2020, covering approximately 26,800 nautical miles or nearly 50,000km.

 
What challenges will you face flying around the world by yourself?

There are a lot of challenges, sure. Inaccurate weather forecasts or unpredictable weather worldwide is a thing we need to think of. The aeroplane has to be well maintained throughout the journey.

Our challenge now is to find more sponsors to help pay for the flight.

Will Vietnam be one of your stops?

Sure. Vietnam is a must in my route. I want to come back to my beloved native land, Phu Yen.

At each stop in my journey, I would want to meet and interact with girls and women around the world. I hope I can inspire them to believe in themselves, encourage them to dream the impossible even when things are difficult.

I also want to raise visibility and awareness of women in aviation and to promote aerospace education for young girls.

 
Vietnamese-American woman blazes trail for female pilots
Instructing students is one thing on Thu's busy schedule.

 
Is that why you established the non-profit Women in Aerospace and Aviation foundation?

People have told me I am a source of confusion and a shock to many, including airport security personnel, who on many occasions have denied me entry through the pilot gates. I have been told “We don’t open the door to passengers” many times. Disappointing experiences became a motivation for me to create my foundation.

My second inspiration in creating the organisation is that I want to promote education within aerospace and aviation, to inspire the next generation of young girls and women who wish to combat the pilot shortage epidemic.

I hope the number of female pilots will increase considerably in the future instead of only 6 per cent of all pilots in the world as now.

Why did you pursue a career which is full of pressure?

I chose it because I had a deep passion for aviation and aerospace engineering since I was at a very young age. I wanted to go through with my childhood dream to one day fly in the sky, going around the world. And I want to prove that Asian little girls can also become pilots.

What were your feelings on your first flight?

For most of us, the first time is definitely the most memorable.

In the basic course of training, there is a compulsory lesson to take off and land three times. It’s a difficult lesson which requires concentration, determination and mastery. I was so nervous when my coursemate passed the test. Bad weather also added to the pressure. For nights before my turn, I was so upset. When I sat in the cockpit on my own and completed the course myself, I was over the moon. As the plane rolled into the parking lot, I hugged my instructor and cried like a baby.

There is a tradition that the instructor pours water on their student upon completion of his or her course, but I was so much happy that I jumped into a swimming pool right after I got out of the plane. It was really an amazing feeling.

So far, I have 10 certifications relating to the pilot career.

Sitting in a plane carrying hundreds of passengers is not only a responsibility but also a source of pride for each pilot.

What has the female pilot life brought to you?

The aviation industry is characterised by landing time, not normal time like other jobs. But I feel happy. I got married and my husband is also a captain. We have a little son and he is also interested in flying.

As a woman and a wife, I know how to manage my schedule to finish my job and take care of my family. I can cook quite well. We used to hold parties for our family members and friends. When we are both on duty, we ask our grandparents to take care of our boy.

As a female captain, I don’t want any better treatment than my male colleagues. Thanks to my working environment and my family’s support, I feel secure in completing the responsibilities of a female captain.

Do you want to say something to Vietnamese young people, especially young girls, who are interested in your field?

I hope Vietnamese young people, especially young girls, trust themselves, dream big, work hard and are devoted to their passion. By doing this, your dreams could become a reality, surely. VNS

Vietnam’s airlines industry still lacks a large number of pilots

Vietnam’s airlines industry still lacks a large number of pilots

Great pressure is being placed upon the airlines industry’s manpower as a consequence of ambitious schemes to expand aviation fleets and open more runways to cater to new airlines.  

Pilot shortage puts Vietnam’s booming aviation industry in trouble

Pilot shortage puts Vietnam’s booming aviation industry in trouble

Over the past few years, Vietnam’s aviation market has been sustaining a two-digit growth rate, while the introduction of new airlines has also put high quality personnel in the industry on high demand.  

 
 

Other News

.
VN shrimp segment above water
VN shrimp segment above water
FEATUREicon  22/03/2020 

Despite the complexities of COVID-19, shrimp exporters and processors still see a bright future ahead thanks to new markets, and boosting exports to traditional markets which have cut imports from China.

Keeping calm and carrying on: Vietnam sets a coronavirus example
Keeping calm and carrying on: Vietnam sets a coronavirus example
FEATUREicon  21/03/2020 

As much of the western world descends into a COVID-19-induced panic, nations in close proximity to China have remained relatively calm. 

When reform becomes quiet
When reform becomes quiet
FEATUREicon  17/03/2020 

While the movement of reducing administrative procedures and simplifying business conditions in 2018 was described as a ‘big wave’, the activities were just ‘small ripples’ in 2019.

How Vietnam sacrifices economy to protect its people?
How Vietnam sacrifices economy to protect its people?
FEATUREicon  16/03/2020 

Taking tough measures for the safety of people has become the government's top priority.

The credibility of cooperation
The credibility of cooperation
FEATUREicon  15/03/2020 

It may not be hard to discern that through the EU’s defiance towards Italy’s desperate calls for aid and America’s freshly-imposed barriers on its European allies, inter-state cooperation has been lacking in the fight against COVID-19.

Encouraging signs in real estate arena
Encouraging signs in real estate arena
FEATUREicon  13/03/2020 

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak piling pressure on the toughest segments of the real estate market in hospitality, retail, and industrial property, positive signs have also been unearthed.  

The EVFTA’s grand impacts on Vietnam’s industrial sector
The EVFTA’s grand impacts on Vietnam’s industrial sector
FEATUREicon  14/03/2020 

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement raise many hopes for all of Vietnam’s economic sectors. 

Duong opens new chapter for Vietnamese boxing
Duong opens new chapter for Vietnamese boxing
FEATUREicon  14/03/2020 

Vietnam has waited more than three decades to see a Vietnamese fighter qualify for an Olympics and Nguyen Van Duong ended the drought after he secured a Tokyo Olympic slot at the Asia/Oceania Olympic boxing qualifying tournament.

Tailwinds expected via foreign-funded activities
Tailwinds expected via foreign-funded activities
FEATUREicon  13/03/2020 

Exchange-traded fund providers are offering more choices to foreign investors, at a time when portfolio rebalancing and global uncertainties could leave them high and dry.

VN pharma landscape set for shake-up
VN pharma landscape set for shake-up
FEATUREicon  12/03/2020 

Facing significant expansion from multinational corporations, Vietnamese drug giants took a hit in 2019 despite new strategies, signalling an uninspiring outlook for future growth.  

Head in the clouds, Vietnamese engineer reaches for the stars
Head in the clouds, Vietnamese engineer reaches for the stars
FEATUREicon  14/03/2020 

Three mice died and a few hearts sank. It was March, 2015 in Hyderabad, India. When the vital signs went down, Pham Gia Vinh and his team knew the mice would die.

The change of thinking and action in foreign investment cooperation
The change of thinking and action in foreign investment cooperation
FEATUREicon  10/03/2020 

The Politburo has issued Resolution No.50/NQ-TW on August 20, 2019, outlining directions to perfect institutions and policies to improve foreign investment efficiency and cooperation until 2030.

Rules of origin pose questions for sectors jostling for position
Rules of origin pose questions for sectors jostling for position
FEATUREicon  08/03/2020 

Although the free trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam will offer great opportunities for wood investors and exporters, its rules of origin may not provide a big boon to local textile and garment businesses.

Game changer for the energy arena
Game changer for the energy arena
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

Vietnam has recently created several favourable policies, including the Politburo’s Resolution No.55-NQ/TW on the orientation of Vietnam’s national energy development strategy to 2030 with a vision towards 2045.

American painter tells colourful stories of Vietnam
American painter tells colourful stories of Vietnam
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

After being impressed by the Vietnamese people living in northern Virginia in the US in the early 1990s, Charles Daniel Hambleton, a native of the state, visited Vietnam for the first time.

Your guide to every 2020 V.League 1 club
Your guide to every 2020 V.League 1 club
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

The 2020 V.League 1 season is almost upon us and (coronavirus permitting) matches will kick off coming week.

Expat football fans find taste of home with V.League
Expat football fans find taste of home with V.League
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

There’s nothing quite like a day out to watch live football. 

Ford expansion’s impact on Vietnam’s vehicle output muted by imports: Fitch Solutions
Ford expansion’s impact on Vietnam’s vehicle output muted by imports: Fitch Solutions
FEATUREicon  04/03/2020 

U.S. automaker Ford Motors’ latest announcement that it intends to expand its Vietnamese plant will provide only a modest boost to the country’s vehicle output over this year and next, according to Fitch Solutions.

Enterprise support around the corner
Enterprise support around the corner
FEATUREicon  03/03/2020 

With the coronavirus epidemic badly damaging business performance and undermining local production, Vietnam will officially launch a major support package to spur on businesses’ performance and ensure economic growth.  

How EVFTA, coronavirus affects Vietnam industrial property?
How EVFTA, coronavirus affects Vietnam industrial property?
FEATUREicon  04/03/2020 

The coronavirus outbreak will certainly have an effect on the global economy in the coming months. Vietnam, with its proximity and close trade and supply relationships with China, is no exception.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN