(C) Picture by ElmarMedia

From lifeguard to nurse, from flight attendant to pilot
Young, handsome, always with a smile and full of energy. It is a pleasure to meet Silke Anckaert. 26 years old and graduated as airline pilot. And that wasn’t even on her roadmap.

Becoming a pilot is often a childhood dream. Others know from an early age what they want to be when they grow up. Doctor, firefighter, computer scientist, you name it. Unfortunately not for me, as a child I never had a clear idea of what I wanted to become.

During my primary and secondary school I was a competitive swimmer. I spent all my free time in the pool. I was completely focused and didn’t have much time to think about my future. After all, it was clear that I wanted to become a professional swimmer, so why bother. During my summer vacation I was a lifeguard on the beach in the Netherlands. I absolutely loved it. Being at sea, working in a team and especially saving lives was amazing.

Looking for myself

After graduating from secondary school, I still had no idea what study I would do at university. So I decided to travel for a while and discover what I really like in life. What are the things I like and dislike, what are the things that matter in my life?! I traveled around and I met many inspiring, beautiful and interesting people in different countries. I volunteered in different areas, from a nurse in a very poor rural hospital to an English teacher for street children. But nine months later I was still undecided.

I realized that I get satisfaction from helping people, and from that feeling I started my study as a nurse. At the same time, to broaden my horizons, I signed up to become a flight attendant and fly around Europe during my weekends and school holidays. It was a great experience!

I fell in love

I fell in love with aviation and realized I had finally found my passion: flying! I however continued my studies and I graduated as a nurse. But after working in a hospital for five weeks, it simply did not give me the same satisfaction as being in the air. And all that time, there was that one question from a first officer I met on one of my flights, who said, “Silke, why not become a pilot?”.

Yes, I can do it! I’ve never been afraid of new challenges. I searched the internet for the best pilot training and soon after I started with CAE. Imagine how surprised my family and friends were. The training was very hard and got interrupted with the pandemic. In the meantime, I offered my help as a nurse with testing people on Covid-19.

Earlier this year, I proudly graduated as an ATPL (frozen) pilot. I am now looking for a pilot seat, which is not an easy task in this crisis. Meanwhile I can fly again as a flight attendant on the TUI network. And sooner or later, nearby or further away, there will undoubtedly be an opportunity to make my way to the flight deck.

It was a long journey to find my passion. But I don’t regret the decisions I’ve made. This is me, and this is my life. I never dreamed of becoming a pilot, but now it feels like a dream come true. I finally found what I love most: flying!

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