This 17-Year-Old St Lucian Could Soon Become the Caribbean’s Youngest Commercial Pilot
At 17, she is still a teenager but this young woman from St. Lucia is a few steps away from becoming a commercial pilot, and perhaps the Caribbean’s youngest.
The following interview by Richard Williams with Claire Daisy Charra was published on My Caribbean Scoop recently:
Q: Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
A: My name is Claire Daisy Charra, I am currently 17 years old. I will be 18 November 7th. I was born in 1998. I first started flying April 1, 2016 and fell in love with it the same instant! I fly planes; that is my life. My life begins when I am airborne. I am the youngest of two sisters. I was raised in St.Lucia with my sisters and grandfather and went to the International school of St.Lucia. I was very disorganized and irresponsible!
Q: What inspired you to pursue this career? A:
When I was 14 years old my grandfather passed away and I moved in with my parents. I became a pilot, like we both dreamed. I had to pull my socks up and get this done not only for myself, but also for him. I finished my last two years of high school in Dominica. My parents were very supportive and agreed to help me with my career goals and found the school, Cirrus Aviation, which is a small flight school located on the West coast of Florida and I can’t thank them enough for choosing this one!
Q: Some people might feel a bit nervous about being flown by
a young pilot. How would you respond to that? A: People often feel intimidated by the fact that I am working towards my commercial rating at the age of 17 years old. That’s completely fine, I tell everybody the same thing. “A very experienced retired army colonel, who has taken me under his wing to ensure that I get the best training I can get, has trained me.” I am just as competent as any other mid aged male pilot. I do the exact same emergency procedures, training and flights required towards getting my rating. I take the exact same check ride and exams as they do. I just happen to be a 17-year-old female from the Caribbean!
Q: What challenges have you faced along the way to where you are now?
A: I faced many issues when I first started. I was a 17-year-old girl, who knew nothing about flying coming in to fly with the “big boys” And that is exactly how everybody looked at me. Some thought it was a joke; some said I would never make it. I would like to take the time out to say, I currently have my private pilot’s license, and my instrument rating, half way done my commercial training in exactly seven months. I think I did pretty well for myself. I never gave up. I spent hours studying. I went full throttle to prove myself, and to prove everybody wrong. I love making my parents proud and if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be
Q: What advice would you
give to young people who are interested in becoming pilots? A: My advice to other young people who are seeking to go after their dreams is simple. The club can wait. Friends can wait! Clear your path from any negativity and stay determined. Never lose track of what you want in life. If you are given the opportunity, hang onto it, grab it! Surround yourself with positive people who will push you when you fall short, and have faith that the Lord has a plan for you.
Q: You’re a woman; do you think this could make a difference for an employer looking for pilots?
A: I am a woman, but I do not use it to my advantage when it comes to flying, being a woman does not help you much in the aviation industry. It is set out that it is a man’s job and a man’s job only. Prove them wrong! But not because you are a woman, but because you are capable of accepting the responsibilities and working hard. Make being a woman a bonus, not an exception. People think because you are a woman they make it easy for you, on the contrary. It’s harder because they think we are not
So for me, I had to work even harder to prove myself. For my check ride, my examiner said, “that was in the top three best flights I’ve ever done.” I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today, I owe my success to God for being with me every step of the way, and my parents for supporting me all the way from the Caribbean.
Claire Daisy Charra is well on her way to make her mark in the region’s history books.