Pauline Vahey has a formidable CV; at present, she is the Director of Aviatrice Ltd, is a Board Director of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a former Chairman of the British Women Pilots’ Association, Chairman of GAIN (General Aviation Infrastructure Network) and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador. But while this list of titles is highly impressive, it only tells half the story. Pauline has arrived in these positions because of her passion for aviation and her desire to encourage more people – particularly women and young people – into the industry.
Her own love of flying was born out of admiration for her late Father, who flew Wellington Bombers during WWII. “He had some wonderful stories – such as flying a Wellington Bomber under bridges – and that inspired me,” she says. “I decided there were three things I wanted to do in life; explore the Amazon jungle, speak French and learn to fly. I have yet to get to the Amazon and while my French is ok, flying is the one that has definitely stuck.”
After studying Maths at Imperial College, Pauline was invited by a friend who had just passed his PPL to fly in a Cessna 152 at Biggin Hill. “I loved it, but having just finished university, there was no way I could afford to learn to fly,” she said. “So I went to Bicester, where they had a military gliding club, which allowed a few civilian members. When I got in a glider I was completely smitten – the acceleration at launch was incredible. I glid for ten years and became a gliding instructor. I did go for my Class 1 medical at the time, but my eyesight wasn’t sufficient, unfortunately. At that point, all dreams of a flying career were put to one side and I began working in software, but I did convert my gliding license into a PPL in 1987.”
Though a career as a commercial pilot was not possible, that did not curtail Pauline’s desire to work in aviation. Roles in sales and business development in the software industry were followed by providing sales consultancy to SMEs, but after working independently she chose to apply those skills and experience to helping clients in GA.
Home now for Pauline is Stoke Poges in South Buckinghamshire and while she flew for ten years out of her local airfield, Denham, she now flies Cessnas frequently from White Waltham. A part-time job in Ops there gave her insight into how airfields are run.
From a recreational perspective, touring is where she derives most pleasure from flying.