To celebrate International Women’s Day this Sunday 8 March and the 100th anniversary year for air traffic control, we are giving 100 lucky winners the opportunity to win a NATS goody bag, featuring one of our commemorative retro patches.
The design, which features a female controller, highlights the importance that women play at NATS and within the industry.
Throughout the month of March, across our social media channels, we are looking back at some of the pioneering women in aviation, beginning here, with the story of Yvonne Sintes…
When you think about the most pioneering names in aviation, there’s one name that always sticks in my mind… Yvonne Pope Sintes.
In the 1950s, very few women were allowed into the male dominated world of aviation, but Yvonne only ever wanted to fly. So while many women were consigned to the role of housewife, Yvonne chose a different path.
Paving the way, Yvonne went on to become the first female air traffic controller, one of the very first female civil airline pilots in the UK, and the first female jet airline captain in Britain.
Many of the men Yvonne worked alongside in the early 1960s found the idea of a woman controller impossible, including her instructor who tried to persuade her to leave the training programme.
A French pilot once even refused to land at Gatwick, preferring instead to divert to Biggin Hill rather than take instructions from a woman controller.
Despite such prejudice, Yvonne was able to forge a hugely successful career that saw her honoured as the best air traffic controller in Europe following a four-year stint controlling at Gatwick Airport.
Now 89 years old, Yvonne is the perfect role model for young women looking to start out in the aviation industry. She stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Jimmy Jeffs and Stanley Mockford as a true pioneer.
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