Gold Coast Helicopter Pilot Ebonie Sheldon is flying rings around the city
When Ebonie Sheldon graduated aviation school at just 19 she was the only female helicopter pilot to fly commercially out of the Gold Coast Airport. At 22 years old now, she is making her mark on the industry and the lives of her passengers too.
Although approximately 5% of pilots worldwide are females, that never stopped Ebonie from taking flight. Her family’s jet setter lifestyle in her early years forged a love affair with flying for Ebonie and she knew a career in the skies was for her.
“My father worked in finance for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts when I was young,” she says. “This meant we were constantly travelling as a family and it definitely gave me a taste for flying at a very young age.”
After doing the tough voluntary hours and enduring the rural relocation, she received her lucky break earlier in her career than most and scored a pilot position at ABC Heli in her hometown of the Gold Coast.
Ebonie now flies locals and tourists around the airways in her turbine helicopter — and enjoys the sights the sky has to offer. The picturesque coast of sea, city and mountains makes a great view and her personal favourite locations from the sky are the Southern Gold Coast and Hinterland.
Everything from proposals to scenic flights are on the daily agenda for this keen flier who enjoys the heightened experience she gets to give her passengers.
“Some days I may have a client ask me to fly them to lunch at Mavis’ Kitchen, other days I may be island hopping as part of an extravagant wedding proposal,” says Ebonie.
“Making those special moments and occasions extra special for people is definitely the most rewarding part of what I do.”
Ebonie’s ambition to achieve her goal is incredible and at her young age she has already achieved more than most. Although her age can come with questions from her passengers who are used to seeing someone older in her seat.
“I do have a lot of passengers ask my age before their flight. But there are 45-year-old male pilots out there that may be day two out of aviation school, I’ve been lucky enough to have flown full time for two years now,” says Ebonie.
Another barrier Ebonie has overcome is being part of a male-dominated industry. She admits it wasn’t something she thought of when going after her dreams though.
“To be honest, I don’t think I realised quite how male dominated it was when I was starting. I can’t remember it ever crossing my mind,” she says.
While she feels female pilots are treated differently to men in the industry, she is living out her dream nonetheless and hopes she encourages other women out there to take their dreams to new heights.
“I certainly hope I’m an inspiration to other women to follow their dreams.”