Jamaican Diva Deon Byrne has achieved a” Fait Accompli.” She is currently the pilot of Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the most advanced airplane to date owned by United Airlines (see Flying High- Jamaican Woman Pilots World Most Advance Aircraft). Jamaican Divas spent ten minutes with her, upon her returned from her flight to Africa. This is what she had to say about her career , her life and sharing her passion with future female aviators.
How were you chosen to pilot the 787 Dreamliner?
There is a bidding process based on seniority, based on date of hire, each class has seniority based on age, and throughout the entire company it’s based on date of hire. You put in a request for whatever air plane you wish to fly, and if you are able to hold that position, you are awarded the position. That is exactly what I did.
Is there another female pilot in your crew?
Actually, there are a few female pilots on the 787 right now. I talked one of my good friends into coming over to the air plane. I flew with two other females and we became the first 787 all-female crew. This happened in April.
What are some of the advantages or disadvantages of being a female pilot?
Initially starting out, I think guys look at you kind of funny because they don’t expect women to do the same things as guys do. Even the passengers, initially look at you a little weird, they think you are incompetent just by being a woman. Overall, I have been in the career field over eighteen years, and I consider myself a professional, very skilled at this level and right now I get the same amount of respect. I think one of the biggest things of being a woman pilot is that I blend in; I don’t have an abrasive personality which allows me to fit in easily with any crew. So that’s a big advantage for me right now.
Have you ever been discriminated against because you are a woman?
You know I have had a few flights, and I must say these are very rare. There was one flight in particular, when I was pregnant. There were three things against me, and I don’t know if it was my color, sex or the fact that I was pregnant. But I flew with a pilot, who was just disgusted by me and refused to talk to me. But we flew, we ran the check list, we operated a safe cockpit. I decided that I was not going to let him influence how I was going to be and I remain professional. I have had other people in the early stages say rude things to me. But those are just a small percentage, overall I think ninety something of the people are just good people to fly with.
How much are you away from home on a monthly basis?
Right now, on this air plane with my schedule I have 18 days off per month. That’s minimum. There are days when I return at 5:30 pm which gives me an extra day. So I average 18 to 22 days off per month on this air plane.
How do you balance your work and home life?
Well it’s a difficulty act; I’m not going to lie about it. I have had to actually hire someone to help me take care of my daughter and things around the house when I’m away. My mother-in-law has been a really big asset. She helps us a lot, she will take and pick up my daughter from school, and she is like a mom to my daughter when I’m not in town. My husband works full time also. So I will say my mother-in-law plays a big part and having some hired help makes my life manageable.
What would you say to young women who have a passion for aviation?
I love to see young women that have that dream, and I try to encourage them. They have to follow their dream, there are lots of obstacles and if you want it bad enough I think you should definitely pursue it. There is going to be financial obstacles, there is going to be discrimination, there is everything out there. And that’s just human nature, if you listen to every negative thing that people have to say you will never amount to what you want to be. So the big thing is to believe in yourself, and if you want it bad enough go and get it.
What are some of the charitable organizations that you support?
Right now, I work with one of my buddies here in Houston, a fellow Jamaican, Xavier Samuels. He usually organizes the pilots to go into schools. We go in and try to mentor around February, and throughout the year. We talk to kids from the inner city; some of them are under privileged and have never heard of ways to get into aviation. So we do a lot of mentoring. I do a lot of volunteering; I have slowed done some since I have my five year old. Volunteering has been a big part of my life from I have been a teenager. I don’t have a specific organization, but if I’m asked and I’m able to give my time I will do it.
How would you describe your fashion or style sense?
I use to be very fashionable, and the operative word is “use to”. Right now if I go out on special occasions, yes, I dress up nicely. But normally around town, I just bum around in jeans and t-shirts. When I go out I like to look professional, not revealing too much, but at the same time try to be sexy. I want my husband to find me sexy. I try to dress elegant and stylish and not too revealing.
What is the one thing that very few people know about you?
I just met my dad last year for the first time. I grew up without a dad and we have been in contact for about six years. I psychically met him, last September.
What life lessons have you learned along the way?
I have to say you have to believe in yourself. I know a lot of women out there that have low self-esteem, even women in my career field because they let people get inside their heads. That’s a big thing, people try to play mind games, but once you believe in yourself and you’re confident no one will be able to pull you down. I think that’s the biggest thing I have learned over the last few years being in aviation. I have to believe that my brain is a steel cage and I don’t let certain people in, and it’s made me a happy person.
Whatever you do, have pride in what you do, and love what you do, it’s important. I have worked in many jobs and have figured out what fields I did not want to work in. Just being able to do what I want, and love what I do. When you love what you do, you will ultimately make money doing it. You just have to follow your heart and go with what you know is right for you.
Congratulations to Dean Bryne for being a trailblazer in her career field and encouragement to future female aviators. Let her know how you feel by leaving comment below.