Aviation for Women

SEP-OCT 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

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20 AviationforWomen S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 8 OPEN THE RIGHT DOORS FOR AN AVIATION CAREER B Y K A T H R Y N B . C R E E D Y I n 1988, Charlotte Pedersen, CEO of Luxavia- tion Helicopters in Luxemburg, was accept- ed to become the first female pilot in the Danish Air Force. Her early journey took her to Pensacola, Florida, and San Diego, Cali- fornia, through a training partnership between the Danish Air Force and the U.S. Navy. After initial training, she completed Officers Academy and soon became one of the top search and res- cue pilots in Denmark, flying the Sea King, a job she held until her air force retirement in 2006. Charlotte's career illustrates not only the choices women make when it comes to family but also instances in which husbands encour- age their wives to pursue their dreams. It also puts a spotlight on the importance of taking a chance on a new career. She is one of four top management women at Luxaviation Group, the second largest business aviation operator in the world. The other female leaders include Sally Jones, chief financial offi- cer; Juliane Von Heimendahl, chief marketing officer; and Jana App-Sandering, chief client service officer. "One of the very important lessons I learned is nothing is impossible," Charlotte says. "You just have to focus and think about how you can do it then go for it. But don't just go in only one direction, but find your own clever way. There is no straight way to an aviation career. I've always done what I like, what is in my heart." Charlotte is a perfect example of leaning into aviation. "I'm no different than other women," she says. "If they are not certain of something— which, I think, is typical behavior for women— they should find out what they need to know. When something makes me insecure I realize it is because I don't know enough about it. This goes back to the first time I became an aircraft commander. I thought, I have to know every- thing about this machine so I studied it until I could understand it. That philosophy has helped me throughout my career because knowledge equals confidence." She attacked the myth that aviation is too hard. "Aviation is not rocket science," she says. "Everything can be learned and understood. If you take the time to understand how it all fits to- gether it takes away a lot of the stress." As a little girl, Charlotte never yearned to be a pilot, but she likes the challenge of doing some- thing different. For that reason, she responded to an ad for female military pilots when she was still in high school. "That sounded like fun," she says. "So I applied and went for testing not knowing anything about aviation. There were lots of young people, but in the end there were only two people left standing and one of them was me. I gained a lot of atten- tion from the press about being the first woman so there was no way I could quit, even if I want- ed to. Shortly afterwards, a second female passed the testing and we went through full training to- gether. She is still working in search and rescue in the Danish Air Force. After that, there was a long wait for the third female pilot. Today, there are still only about five female pilots in the Dan- ish military." Like many women, Pedersen took time out to be a full-time mother, moving with her husband, Frank, who had just taken a four-year assign- ment with NATO in Belgium. "We felt that my taking time off was the best investment we could make in our family," she says, adding it was then she began business studies. "I wanted to learn about business and investment." But it wasn't long until she was back in avi- ation. After three years in Belgium, her hus- band was posted to a new assignment in Lux- embourg, and Charlotte began her career with the civil aviation authorit y a s an inspector. But then the tables turned, as she decided to pursue a master of business administration in strategy and finance while her husband took care of the homefront. "During that time, I met Luxaviation CEO Pat- rick Hansen, whose experience in finance and as an entrepreneur saw promise in business avia- tion," she says. "He needed help from someone like me with a background in aviation regulations to join him." In 2008, Patrick had taken over Luxaviation AOC, a small Luxembourg-based company with only one aircraft, a Cessna Citation XLS, and six There is no straight way to an aviation career. I've always done what I like, what is in my heart.

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