Buckle up, friends! We're going for a ride on a propeller plane to soak in the views and feel the adrenaline rush only pilots get to experience. Do you get butterflies 🦋 in your stomach when you fly? Our guest and a second-generation pilot, Maria Fagerström, says that with time this feeling disappears. Maria believes being a pilot is the best job in the world and, if you want, you can become a pilot too. Join us as we find out how with our host Emilly Calandrelli.
Discover fun activities and songs that will teach your child all about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in the Lingokids app! 💙
Speaker 1: When I grow up, I want to be a pilot.
Emily: What does being a pilot mean to you?
Speaker 2: They can touch the clouds whenever they want.
Speaker 1: Getting to places super fast.
When I grow up
Want to be a pilot
With a uniform white
Always flying high up in the sky
When I grow up
I want to be a firefighter
Putting out flames
Or maybe a police officer
Keeping people safe
It's so fun to learn what you can be
When I grow up
Want to be an artist
That paints portraits
Want to be a scientist
That does experiments
Oh, so many people you will meet
Emily: Hi, and welcome to Growin' Up with Emily, a Lingokids podcast helping amazing kids to grow up and be even more amazing, and Emily, it's me. As a kid, I was always asked, what do you want to be when you grow up? I wanted to be so many things. Does that sound familiar? Then I am glad you're listening because you're going to find out what it takes to be anything you want. Are you ready to make flying your superpower?
Speaker 2: Yes.
Speaker 1: Yes.
Emily: Last episode, we met Katya Echazarreta, the first Mexican-born woman in space. Today, we're exploring a job that can take you anywhere in the world. The sky is the limit. Do you love to travel? If you've dreamed of being a pilot, you won't want to miss this episode. Today, we're going to meet Maria Fagerström, a Swedish pilot who wants to inspire more females to become pilots.
Emily: We're sitting in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk on an airfield in Spain. This single-engine plane was first built in 1956 and it's still the plane used in flight training schools around the world. Come along for the ride to learn how to get a pilot certificate.
Speaker 1: I've never been in a small plane before. Sure, I can see the pilot in the cockpit. It's all so close.
Emily: Cool, huh? Most of us fly on large jets that hold hundreds of people. This plane only holds four. The propeller and engine are a little noisy. We're on the runway and preparing for takeoff. Buckle up. Pretty soon we'll be in the clouds at 10,000 feet. That's as high as we can go, but we're not the only ones in the sky. That commercial jet way over there can go higher. Its cabin is sealed and it circulates air so passengers can breathe.
Speaker 2: We're cutting through the clouds.
Speaker 1: Hey, I see a small plane flying down below.
Emily: That's a crop duster. The pilot is in a special plane designed to fly low and release water over those fields. It takes skill not to fly into trees or power lines.
Speaker 2: I guess there are all kinds of pilots.
Emily: Yes. Different aircraft and different jobs need different pilots, but all pilots must pass physical and mental exams and be able to communicate in English. Whoa, we're hitting a little turbulence. It was just in air pockets. As I was saying, there are all kinds of pilots. To fly a plane like a Cessna, you need a private pilot's certificate, 40 hours of flying practice.
Speaker 2: What about those airline jets? That seems like a big job.
Emily: It certainly is. An airline transport pilot needs at least 1,500 hours of flying experience. They're in charge of flying long distances with a lot of people.
Speaker 1: Do they get a break to eat or to use the bathroom?
Emily: There are always two pilots on board. They can eat but they're not allowed to eat the same food as the passengers or the co-pilots in case of food poisoning. When pilots take breaks, they rely on George to keep the plane on its flight path.
Speaker 2: Who's George?
Speaker 1: Who's George?
Emily: That's a nickname for the autopilot system. When planes reach cruising altitude, pilots turn on George to fly the plane. Here's a trivia question. What year did the Wright Brothers become the first pilots to fly a powered plane?
Speaker 2: Like 100 years ago.
Emily: Good guess. The Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk flyer took to the air in 1903. Do you know the name of the brothers who tried to fly but failed?
Speaker 1: No. Who were they?
Emily: The wrong brothers.
Emily: Joking aside, air travel has come a long way and continues to improve. The most advanced aircraft are created by the military. Commercial airlines often hire former military pilots. They're well-trained and highly experienced.
Speaker 1: I saw the Blue Angels once.
Emily: Cool, Blue Angels are pilots from the US Navy and Marine Corps. They put on air shows seen by over 10 million people every year. Now, that's a wild ride.
Speaker 2: There are many cool jobs for pilots.
Emily: There sure are. We're starting to descend. Time flies when you're having fun and a smooth landing. We're back on solid ground safe and sound. Are you ready to meet our pilot?
Speaker 1: Yes.
Speaker 2: Yes.
Emily: She announced her name before we took off. It's Captain Fagerström.
Emily: Hi, Captain Fagerström. I'm with Lingokids and we want to find out what it takes to be a pilot. Can we ask some questions?
Maria: Of course.
Emily: Great. First off, how long have you been a pilot?
Maria: Gosh, I've been a pilot since I was 18 years old. That's 12 years ago now. I've been flying airplanes with passengers for the last seven years. A commercial pilot for seven years.
Emily: So cool. Captain Fagerström, what would you say are three skills all pilots need?
Maria: I think pilots, they need to have a problem-solving mindset. Every day, we come across challenges that we have to deal with to ensure a safe flight. Teamwork is very important too because we work together with many different people from different backgrounds, cultures. We work in this very small confined box. You have to be able to work together. The third trait-- A good trait is also to be able to stay calm during stressful situations.
Emily: Really interesting. Hopefully, later, you can give us some tips on how our listeners can start practicing these skills. In the meantime, we have some excellent questions from our Lingokids listeners.
Speaker 3: Captain, why did you decide to become a pilot?
Maria: I think I have to blame my dad for that. My dad growing up was an airline pilot himself. I would sit with him on the jump seat in the flight deck and see how he worked. Then he inspired me to do the same. That's how I got inspired to apply for aviation school and do that myself.
Speaker 4: I don't think I've ever seen a female pilot before.
Maria: No, that's true. Yes, I think the percentage is just 5% female pilots and even less female captains. Yes, we need to get those trends up and that's what I try to do, just inspire young kids like myself. I was so insecure like, "Can I do this? Is this for me?" It doesn't matter how you look like or what gender you identify with, this job, everyone can do. I really recommend it, I think is the best job in the world. I really do. [chuckles]
Speaker 3: You're such a cool pilot. Captain, do you start the plane with a key or a button?
Maria: That's a question I get a lot actually. It's different. Different airplanes are designed differently. Small airplanes, for example, they normally have a key to start. Very similar to a car, but bigger airplanes like the one I fly, normally have a switch or a button that starts the engine.
Speaker 4: I get butterflies in my stomach before the plane takes off. Do you get them too?
Maria: Not anymore because I've been doing it for so long. I remember the first time I took off it was this intense feeling in my stomach because when you put the thrust on full power, and you just hear the engines roar behind you, there's immense power, and that gives me a butterfly.
Speaker 2: Do you fly with the same crew each time?
Maria: This also depends on which airline you work for. For me, a normal day at work, I fly either two or four flights on that same day. I always fly with one first officer and four cabin crews, but this depends on how big of an airplane you're flying. How many cabin crews, an extra flight crew you have on board. I always start my day from my so-called home base, and from there I fly to around 50 different destinations, give or take in Europe. I get to fly with roughly 20 different first officers.
Speaker 2: Captain, what do you like best about being a pilot?
Maria: That's an easy question because the best thing about being a pilot are the views. The views at 37,000 feet are amazing because the sun is always shining above the clouds, and I'm so grateful to be able to watch the sunrise or the sunset every single day at work. It's just beautiful. Every day it just looks different. It's amazing. It really is.
Speaker 2: Do you get to see new places when you arrive?
Maria: For me, unfortunately, there's no time to explore new places. Once we land at our destination, the passengers leave the airplane, we fuel up, and then we welcome the new passengers on board. 30 minutes later, no more, we are on our way again up in the air. The upside to this is that we get to go home every single day and we sleep in our own beds every day. It can be different. If you're, for example, a long-haul pilot that fly across Atlantic-- My dad, he worked as a long-haul pilot. He flew to destinations far away and would stay there for several days and recover, and then he had time to explore new places and cities before he had to fly back again. It's very different depending on what you do.
Speaker 2: What was your scariest experience?
Maria: One time I remember specifically I flew to this airport where the weather was really bad. There were lightning and thunderstorms everywhere, but because we always knew about the weather beforehand, we take a lot of extra fuel with us so we can just wait for the bad weather to disappear, but this time it never did. It just stayed the same. What we did, we decided to go to a completely different airport in a different country even and decided to land there instead, where the weather was so much better. Of course, the passengers were not too happy about this, but for pilots is safety always comes first and it's our highest priority.
Emily: Wow. Captain Fagerström, you answered those with flying colors. What advice would you give to kids to help stay calm on an airplane?
Maria: I understand that it can be scary to fly an airplane sometimes. You're not always knowing what's going on behind the scenes. It could be weird noises or things happening that you don't really know about. What you can do, you can always talk to the train crew members on board if you're afraid of flying. I've had many kids come up to me in the flight deck just saying hello, ask their questions, asking about the weather, what can they expect. I always do my best and just reassuring them that everything is fine. That's perfectly normal. Also what I find calming is just listening to calming music. Maybe reading your favorite book, just occupy your mind with something else.
Emily: Thanks for sharing with us.
Emily: Maria, what can kids do now while they're still growing up to become a pilot?
Maria: You can start by understanding how things can fly. You can build paper airplanes and test them. I did that as a kid. You can fly a kite, you can learn about wind patterns. Some airports even have programs where volunteer pilots take kids up in smaller airplanes and then have training programs off the ground. What I did was, I went to my local flying club and I booked a session in these very small airplanes with one engine and I just took it for a ride with an instructor and see, "Is this really for me?" I loved it. It was the best thing ever. I can really recommend doing that.
Speaker 2: That sounds fun.
Speaker 3: As long as George isn't the only pilot.
Emily: We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Growin up Podcast. Even if you never planned to be a pilot, it helps to know you're in good hands the next time you take a flight. Is there somewhere special you'd like to go that requires a plane flight? Tune in next time when we meet a real scientist.
Speaker 2: To have a full interactive learning adventure, check out our Lingokids app with tons of games and activities for endless fun.
It's so fun to learn what you can be
So come and join us, come, everyone
So we can learn while having lots of fun
Because it's so fun to learn what you can be
Yes, it's so fun to learn what you can be
[00:15:54] [END OF AUDIO]