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Olivia WhiteUWindsor aeronautics student Olivia White received a scholarship named to honour Air Canada’s first female pilot.

Aeronautics student receives inaugural scholarship named for pioneering pilot

UWindsor aeronautics student Olivia White is one of four women across Canada awarded an inaugural scholarship named to honour Air Canada’s first female pilot.

Funded by Air Canada and the Northern Lights Foundation, the Air Canada Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship provides young women aspiring pilots $5,000 towards their aviation studies.

The winners range in age from 18 to 26: White, Urooj Ali, Rebecca Beylerian, and Yasna Taieb.

White applied for the scholarship in December 2019. She was informed she was one of the winners in February, but it wasn’t announced publicly until March 6 at Air Canada headquarters, where the recipients toured the flight operations centre, talked to operations staff, and met Cameron, who was hired by the airline in 1978 at 23 years old.

White says Cameron is one of her heroes.

“She was the only woman in her flight school when she earned her licence,” she says. “She is unbelievably kind. It’s amazing to be connected with a woman like that.”

White earned her private pilot’s licence while in high school, so even though she is in her first year of university studies, she is taking first- and second- year courses in aeronautics leadership.

“I am really enjoying the program. It’s a small program so you get to know everyone, and program co-ordinator Tamsin Bacon knows all the students by name and makes time for us to meet with her,” says White. “When I was getting my licence, I was the only teenager learning with a group of 30+ year old men. It is so nice to be studying with a group of my peers.”

She earned her night rating as soon as she arrived at UWindsor and plans to get a commercial licence by year’s end.

“Next is instrument rating and then multi-engine rating,” she explains.

After graduation, White hopes to get a job as a pilot where she can gain experience and get the needed hours as a professional pilot, and then fly for Air Canada.

—Susan McKee