Pictured (left to right:) Jessica Waite and Hanna Gillam, recipients of the first female ab initio pilot scholarship created by Airways Aviation in collaboration with the British Women Pilots' Association

On 8 March 2018, Airways Aviation announced the two recipients of its new female ab initio pilot scholarship, Hanna Gillam and Jessica Waite, to coincide with International Women’s Day (IWD18).

The £35,000 scholarship programme was created in collaboration with the British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA) and announced last October to help encourage more female pilots.

After being shortlisted to sit the industry-standard COMPASS test, Hanna and Jessica were required to attend a panel interview, give a presentation and take part in a group exercise. They both scored highly on each task and progressed to a final round of one-to-one interviews at Oxford.

“We could not determine which of the highest-scoring candidates to go with, so the Board decided to offer two scholarships in 2018,” said Marwan Atalla, Airways Aviation CEO.

Hanna and Jessica’s scholarships will go towards an Airways Aviation EASA pilot training course. After completing the theory component at Airways’ Oxford base, they will move on to Huesca–Pirineos Airport to undertake practical flight training.

BWPA’s Chairwoman Julie Westhorp, a former commercial airline pilot and current flight instructor and examiner, commented: “Only 3% of the world’s pilot workforce today is female, and we believe the key reason for these low numbers is a lack of visible role models, not a lack of ability.”

Jessica Waite, born in Basildon, Essex, is currently undertaking A-Levels in Chemistry, Sociology, Politics and Mathematics. Now in her fifth year as an Air Cadet at 2393 Billericay Squadron, she holds the rank of Sergeant and is involved with teaching other cadets. Jessica also enjoys a part-time administrative role at North Weald airfield.

Hanna Gillam, from Woolton Hill near Newbury, completed her A levels at St Batholomew’s School sixth form before working abroad. Her late grandfather founded and ran a flying school at Headcorn, Kent, while her late step-grandmother was a former chair of the BWPA. Both her parents held private pilot’s licences. At 16, Hanna signed up to be an RAF Air Cadet, where she achieved a gliding and flying scholarship.