As if the sand, sea and sunsets aren’t glorious enough as seen from terra firma, there’s an even more sensational view from thousands of feet up in the air.
Giselah Ebanks is all about that view, along with passenger safety, of course, as a pilot for Cayman Airways. Ebanks, who was hired as the airline’s first female pilot in 2010, says the view is one of the best things about being a pilot.
“I absolutely love it, and it never gets old. It is truly amazing to be at 37,000 feet and admiring the sunset or looking down at city lights at night and just taking in the earth’s splendour. It truly comforts the soul.”
Ebanks says her love of aviation began around age 6, when her parents would take her to the airport every Saturday to watch planes take off. It wasn’t until her final year of high school, however, that she decided to pursue getting a pilot’s licence.
Her career started in April 2010 with Cayman Airways Express, flying domestic flights to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on the DHC-6-300 or DeHaviland Twin Otter. In 2013, she transitioned to the current B737 fleet and currently flies to all Cayman Airways destinations in the United States, as well as to Jamaica, Honduras and Cuba.
As far as her accomplishments are concerned, she has quite a few, but she narrows the list to two favourites.
First on the list was flying her mother on the B737 to her vacation in Jamaica.
“She cried tears of joy the entire flight,” says Ebanks, adding that she, herself, didn’t tear up until they reached the gate in Montego Bay.
“It meant a lot to see her in awe of her only child flying her on holiday. I’ll never forget how excited she was to see all her encouragement and prayers for my success finally pay off.”
The second accomplishment, she notes, was flying with another female pilot on a ‘Customer Acceptance’ flight for the airline’s latest B737 aircraft.
“This was my first time flying with another female pilot, especially a test pilot, so I was elated when the opportunity presented itself for me to fly with her. It was such a great morale boost and provided an excellent reminder that women are strong and resilient,” she says.
In terms of what advice or encouragement she would give young women who are interested in aviation, or in any field/industry where there are not many female employees or managers, Ebanks suggests they follow their passion.
“If it’s something you (and she emphasises ‘you’) truly love, and it’s something you want to do, go ahead and pursue it,” she says. “We spend so much time thinking about the negativity that we may encounter from other individuals, that we often doubt our skills and our abilities as women to thrive in a male-dominated industry.
“Forget about what other people may say and push through for your dreams. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”