One example is a young woman named Ms. Phinanong Leusasinh, aged just 19 by the time she became Laos’s first female pilot. Ms. Phinanong came from Nongping village in Chanthabouly district, Vientiane.

In 2015, she made her first solo flight. The solo flight, which is made without an instructor on board, is a milestone in the pilot training course. Ms. Phinanong was one of six trainees who took the controls of a four-seat, single-engine Cessna 172 high above Wattay International Airport.

In a media interview, Ms. Phinanong said her instructor gave the confidence to undertake the solo flight.

This ambitious girl became Laos’ first female pilot when she completed her two-year course training program. On completion of the program, Ms. Phinanong and the other trainees would be employed by Lao Skyway, the airline that supported the training.

During training, the aspiring pilots took courses in what was known as ‘ground school’. The courses covered all the subjects required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Lao Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.

The general knowledge course covered airframes, engines and systems, the theory of flight, flight instruments, flight operations, human factors, and pilot decision-making.

Flight training includes dual, solo, cross-country, instrument and simulator training in accordance with ICAO and Lao Civil Aviation Safety Regulations requirements.

It was not an easy passage for Ms. Phinanong and she had encountered many challenges during the training course. “But,” she said, “I don’t give up because I receive strength and encouragement from my family and friends.”

“I’m very happy to know that I’m one of the top six students at the flying school. Originally there were 120 applicants from which they selected the best 20. So it’s very satisfying for me to be one of the top six.”

Although she made great progress during the course, Ms. Phinanong said one of the aspects she found really difficult was understanding the technical language concerning engines.

But she pressed on and told herself that women can do the same things as men. Ms. Phinanong said she longed to be a pilot when she was a child and she liked adventures, so she decided to apply for the course.

She realized that she was poised to make history by becoming the country’s first female pilot.

Candidates enrolling in the pre-course had to meet numerous prerequisites such as possession of a high school certificate or higher, medical clearance to prove good physical health, good English skills, and a minimum height requirement (1.6 metres for women and 1.65 metres for men).

Furthermore, they had to pass a screening test which assessed their maths ability, spatial orientation, memory, technical comprehension, concentration and a specific English test as well as an interview.

Ms. Phinanong expressed her sincere thanks to her family and friends, especially to the Swiss-based Partners in Aviation and Communication Technologies, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Civil Aviation Training Centre, and Lao Skyway, who encouraged her to achieve her goal.