Air Georgian CRJ First Officer Samantha Mincone played hockey growing up, and later found her passion for flying following an Air Georgian initiative educating female hockey players about the similarities between playing hockey and life as a pilot.
As a SOAR candidate, Mincone was able to pursue a career in aviation, transitioning to Air Georgian through one of our SOAR partners. Inspired by Samantha’s story, our SOAR program for aviation career awareness, recruitment and fulfillment renewed our partnership with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA), to encourage more women to consider a career in aviation.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Mincone about her hockey experience growing up, and how it helped to shape her life and career.
What skills did you learn playing hockey that were transferable to your pilot career?
Teamwork and leadership. One of the best parts of playing hockey is the people you meet. Every year there’s a new group of individuals with different backgrounds and skills working towards a common goal. Some you get along with and some you don’t. Either way, there’s an opportunity to learn ways to best work with them to get the job done. Aviation is no different. It’s not only about being able to sit in the flight deck with one other person, but on a daily basis we cooperate with schedulers, dispatchers, ground crew, and air traffic control. It’s important to be personable and communicate with all of them.
Hockey teaches technical skills and the fundamentals to achieve your team’s objective, fostering leadership, teamwork and personal growth in a fast-paced environment.
Why should girls consider a career in aviation?
Because they have the skill set for it! What I’ve always liked about flying is that it’s challenging and changes daily. It requires the ability to think quickly on your feet, make sound, rapid decisions, problem solve, multitask, communicate effectively, be organized and deal effectively with various personalities. All soft skills that a lot of women excel at.
What prompted you to apply to Air Georgian?
I first heard about Air Georgian while working on my private pilot license. There was a news article about them recruiting at [hockey] provincials. What they said about hockey players making good pilots really resonated with me and I kept that article. Later on, I had the opportunity to apply via the SOAR program that my flight school was a part of.
What is the best part about being a pilot?
I love that each day I am presented with a new opportunity to learn and refine my skills. Everyday poses a new challenge. My day gets exponentially better when I nail a landing in difficult conditions. Although some tasks may be repetitive, I must be able to think critically and responsibly. I’m humbled by the fact that I’m entrusted to make sure passengers get to their destinations safely. Plus, the view can’t be beat!
What’s it like playing hockey and working in aviation, both traditionally male-dominated fields?
This is a difficult question. In a lot of ways, it’s been tough. There’s been a lot of naysayers. People that feel women don’t belong in both of those areas. People that say the only reason we have these positions is to fill a quota, and others that are just down right offended by it. But for all the naysayers, there’s just as many people backing us up and supporting us. And frankly, it’s fuel for the fire. It makes me work harder and smarter. I know I’m just as capable as anyone else and am happy to keep proving that. As a kid my mom often got asked, “You let your daughter play hockey?” Now that’s turned into, “You let your daughter fly airplanes?” And her response is always, of course, why not?
Looking to learn more about SOAR?
If you’re interested in learning more about our SOAR program, please visit us here. If you’re already affiliated with one of our partners, you can complete your SOAR application here. To apply for a pilot job with Air Georgian visit our pilot careers page.
Diversity improves culture and strengthens our industry.
One of the barriers to a career in aviation is a lack of diversity and inclusiveness. Air Georgian is proud to have a workforce which is 58% millennial and in which 35% of employees self-identify as members of a visible minority group. Air Georgian is breaking down gender bias in our industry through a number of partnerships aimed at attracting women into technical fields like piloting and maintenance as well as management roles. Today we are proud to employ over twice the national and international average of female pilots, and while we are proud of our diversity statistics and initiatives, it is not enough. We are challenging ourselves to reach gender parity through all sectors of our company, including pilots, within the next ten years, and are now extending this challenge to members of the greater aviation community.
Learn more about the initiatives and investments we are making to bring awareness to aviation as an exciting and rewarding career by reading our Open Letter to the Canadian Aviation Industry.