What institutions did she attend?
- Sacred Heart Girls’ RC School, Trinidad
- St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
- University of Waterloo, Canada– BSc in Mathematics, majoring in Computer Science and Business
- Buttonville Airport, Canada– Private, commercial & instructor licences
- American Flyers Flight School, USA– Multi-engine IFR ratings & USA licences
- Professional Pilots Institute, UK– Ground school for Trinidad and Tobago licence
- She was featured in several profiles and articles, including the book, Why Not a Woman? by Radhica Saith.
- She has participated in many career guidance seminars at various secondary schools in Trinidad and in Tobago.
She loves adventurous activities like hiking, diving, camping and kayaking. She has extensively explored Trinidad’s Northern Range Forest Reserve, trekked to Everest Base Camp in the Himalayas, also climbed the Swiss Alps and New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
She also loves Latin dancing.
Wendy Yawching (Date of Birth: 8th Sep 1955)
Caribbean Women in STI
Captain Wendy Yawching became exactly what her family and friends told her throughout her childhood and early adulthood that she could never become – a pilot. In fact, she became not only one of the few female pilots in the Caribbean, but also the first female captain of BWIA, the former national airline of Trinidad and Tobago, which by the end of its operations was the largest airline operating out of the Caribbean.
Born on 8th September, 1955 in San Fernando, Trinidad, she moved to Port-of-Spain by the age of 10. It was also at this age that she decided to become a pilot. However, she faced discouragement by family, friends and teachers because, at that time, it was not the norm for women to fly planes. After finishing secondary school, she worked briefly at a bank, then decided to join BWIA as a flight attendant, which was the closest she could come to flying. After three years, she decided to pursue university studies.
She left for Canada in 1976 to study mathematics, which she had always done well in, and computer science because she thought it to be a progressive field. It was here that her dream of becoming a pilot began to seem possible as she observed women working as truck drivers, electricians, engineers and pilots which was unheard of in Trinidad and Tobago in those days. She began flying lessons while still at university. The lessons were very expensive for a student but she persisted. After graduating from university, she worked as a computer analyst, an information systems analyst and a computer consultant. Her career in computers allowed her to continue funding her flight training with various schools in Canada.
In 1986, when she was older than most new pilots, she gave up her successful career in computers and left Canada to become a full-time commercial pilot with LIAT in Antigua. In 1988, she was hired by BWIA and advanced from First Officer DC9-50 to Captain on the B737-800 until the airline’s closure in 2006. She subsequently accepted a position with Caribbean Airlines as Captain of the B737. Captain Yawching has approximately 12,000 flying hours. Of these, around 11,000 are on multi-engine aircraft and over 7,000 on large jets.
Although the switch to a full-time career in aviation was challenging, she has never looked back. She has lived her dream after years of being told “you cannot do it” and after much struggle and hard work. Once they realised how happy she was, her family and friends became her biggest fans and supporters. Her advice to young people, both girls and boys, is to, “Follow your dreams and never let anyone tell you what you cannot do.”
What is a pilot?
A pilot operates any form of aircraft for the purpose of transporting people or cargo, or as part of the military’s weapons systems. There are many types of pilots, the most common being commercial airline pilots. A pilot’s job can be extremely diverse. They not only fly aircraft, but also monitor weather conditions, create and coordinate flight plans, and test instrument panels within the aircraft.
Areas of Specialisation
- Agricultural pilot
- Aeromedical pilot
- Commercial airline pilot
- Flying instructor
- Helicopter pilot
- Airforce pilot
What do I need to study?
At CSEC and CAPE: Geography, Mathematics, Computer Studies, Physics
You must first pursue instrument flight training, and then attain a private pilot certificate. A written exam and at least 250 hours of flying time are also needed. To be a commercial pilot, you can then apply for the relevant license, pass both a physical and written exam, and have logged a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time. Most airlines prefer a pilot to be a university graduate. You can pursue studies in meteorology, algebra and geometry, or fields related to the industry such as air traffic control, aerospace engineering and aviation maintenance technology.
What skills and traits do I need?
- Ability to stay calm and make sound decisions under pressure
- Good communication, planning and organisational skills
- Technology savvy
- Attention to detail
- Orville and Wilbur Wright
- Amelia Earhart
- Charles Lindburgh
- Chesley Sullenberger