Suzi Dunn at a glance
Dreaming to fly
Suzi Dunn went through a difficult phase in her life – losing her mum to cancer, turning 40 and struggling with anxiety. But she had always wanted to fly a plane, and for some reason, that dream resurfaced just when she was at her lowest ebb.
As a little girl, I lived in Lincolnshire, England, close to one of the RAF bases, which happened to be home to the famous acrobatic display team, the Red Arrows. The fighter jets roaring overhead and air traffic control messages blaring on radio mesmerized me. Adding to this fascination, I was given a flight simulator for Christmas in 1984. Ever since, I have dreamed of flying and learning more about air traffic control.
Of course, life intervened – I studied Computer Science at College and my career took a different path as I specialized in IT Service Management. My dad passed away when I was 25 and I also got busy with family life.
A few years ago, I lost my mum to cancer and entered a difficult phase in my life – struggling with anxiety. Around the same time, I turned 40 and something happened inside me: I wanted to chase my long cherished dream of flying!
In April 2017, I finally started flying lessons. I got immense support from my sisters and close friends who knew this was my moment of reckoning. I persisted in mastering the nuances of flying, working through all the demanding pre-requisites, as I tried to achieve my pilot’s licence within a year.
It was not all plain sailing. I faced setbacks. I struggled with some manoeuvres, especially with landing techniques. It was also a constant battle to find the time to prepare for the daunting challenge of nine written exams, a radio exam and the two and a half hour flying exam. But I kept my goal in sight, snatched time for studying during train journeys to and from work and completed all of the exams successfully!
Throughout this journey, I’ve enjoyed immense support from the TCS family. As a woman, there are certain parallels between my work in IT and my experience at the flying school. In general, I felt that I had to work harder to prove my commitment whilst operating in professional environments largely dominated by men.
“Once you have committed to a goal, nothing can stop you from achieving it”
Personally, I’m sure that I’ve evolved in the process. From my inspiration, the pioneering female aviator Amelia Earhart, I learnt that determination and tenacity are of prime importance in life. Once you take the initial leap, everything else falls into place. So I now have more confidence and faith in myself. And I hope I have shown my daughters that, once you have set yourself and committed to a goal, nothing can stop you from achieving it.
Whilst I look forward to more flying and visiting airfields, I’m already onto my next pursuit – training to be an Air Traffic Controller. I recently passed my written exams to be a Flight Information Service Officer (FISO) at the local airfield, an initial step into air traffic control. I’m also aiming to earn an instructor’s certificate to introduce others to the joys of flying.
A Superstar’s message to us all
Flying is all about safety. It’s about being aware of your engine, knowing your limits and understanding what risks to take. The same principles apply in life. We have to prioritize, be prepared for the journey whilst planning for every possible emergency. To my colleagues, I would like to say that nothing is impossible. Set small goals, chart your course and you will come out with flying colours!