Airline Pilot

Hello! My name is Laurence Bonneau, and I currently live in Boston. I was
born in France – and you may have guessed, Laurence is a female name in
French!

As a kid I lived in France, Spain and England, so I learned all 3 languages
fairly easily. I grew up loving sports and math – always felt it was a great
game and I had fun with it. During a boring summer, I started reading all
those books about the French Airmail pilots and their adventures, and
decided I wanted to be a pilot too, and dreaming about my own future
adventures.

Unfortunately, my vision is not very good, and at the time you needed
20/20 uncorrected to be a professional pilot. So I had to do something else,
and I ended up in engineering. I worked for many years as a Project Manager
for Software development projects in France and in Spain, and then here in
the USA.

Five years ago when I was living in the Philadelphia area, I finally went to the
airport to take flight lessons, and was ecstatic when I soloed: “Wow!! I am
flying!! All by myself!!!” I was so happy I even forgot to worry about the
landings!! And then I got my Private License: “after all these years and
those childhood dreams”, I thought, “I MADE IT! I AM A PILOT!!”

When I found out the rules had changed and that I could actually qualify to
become a professional pilot, the thought stayed with me until I became one:
a year ago, I decided to quit my job, finish flight training, and now I am a
First Officer (co-pilot) for American Eagle, flying the Embraer Regional Jet
ERJ-145 out of Boston. My first flight in the real airplane, with passengers
and everything, was literally a dream that I once though impossible come
true!

I was incredibly happy, flying at Flight Level 370, in the blue sky under the
July sun, watching the earth and at the contrails from the other airplanes,
and thinking: we are leaving a beautiful white trail too!! A few months prior I
was on the ground stuck in an office, looking at the contrails in the sky, and
wishing one day one of them would be mine – and now it was reality!

Obviously becoming a pilot took a lot of hard work, dedication, time and
money, as well as some stubbornness. The earlier math and engineering
training definitely made it easier for me than for others, so I would
recommend studying science and math in school. Being a girl was never an
obstacle for me, in part because I had decided very early on that I wouldn't
let it be one. When you study a lot, ask a lot of questions, try to always do
the best you can, and show that you really mean what you say, you end up
not leaving any choice to people but to take you seriously.

One of the keys for me was that, if something happened or I heard a bad
comment, I would never think “He said that because I am a girl” but I would
think “I need to work that much harder so he cannot say that again”.

So if you believe in your dream and do all you can to make it happen, you
too will be up there sooner than you think!
TM
Using aviation to entertain
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