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Christine Ody

Pilot

I work for the domestic jet airline on the Boeing B737-300 as a Pilot (First Officer). The domestic jet airline flies between New Zealand’s main centres—Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.

When I joined the company in 2005 I had the choice of joining as a long-haul second officer or as a domestic first officer. I chose the latter as I wanted a ‘hands-on’ flying job - and I wanted a flying job that wouldn’t give me jet lag.

Where did your journey start?

I started learning to fly in December 1996 at Ardmore Flying School. I did all of my flight training part-time (except for my commercial theory subjects) while I was working full-time. It took me three years to complete my PPL, CPL and C-category instructor’s rating—at which point I started instructing part-time whilst continuing in my original job in a part-time role also. Between the two I was working 70–80 hours per week to earn less than I had been when I was full-time at my previous job. I was exhausted.

After about 18 months instructing I completed my B-category instructor’s rating and then about six months later my multi-engine instrument rating (MEIR). About a year after that I started MEIR instructing, and moved into a full-time instructing role. All-up I instructed for four years.

Where’s your journey taken you so far within Air New Zealand?

I had an unsuccessful interview with Eagle Air in late 2003, and then a successful interview with Air Nelson in early 2004. I had 2400 hours total time, and about 400 hours multi-engine. I started with Air Nelson as a first officer on the Saab 340A in March 2004.

A year later I had an interview with Air New Zealand, and started my training for my new role as a First Officer on the Boeing 737 in September 2005. By that time, I had about 3300 hours total time.

My core flying role has not changed from that time, as promotions depend on seniority.

However, I completed the Business in the Sky development programme for pilots in 2007–8, and, as a result of the project work I was involved in with that programme I have been working with the Aviation Institute project since 2009. I now work closely with the Institute’s five flight training organisation partners, helping to share knowledge of airline procedures and practices.

Where do you hope your journey will take you?

In my core flying role, I hope to make the move to the left-hand seat of a short-haul jet - at this stage the only option is the A320. I would like to keep my career in the short-haul arena if possible. Ideally, I’d like to be a Captain on Boeing’s new single-aisle jet, the B737 MAX - which is scheduled to fly in 2017 - but first I have to convince the company to buy some!

Outside of flying, I hope I am able to remain involved with the Aviation Institute’s activities to strengthen the flow of information between the airline and the flight training industry. I’m keen to promote my career to young people and help them get the information they need to understand what it means to become an Airline Pilot.

What Air NZ value do you feel you best represent and why?

Probably “Be Yourself”. I really love what I do and I’m very comfortable in my working environment with my colleagues - I really am just ‘being me’ at work. No pretences; what you see is what you get! Not all jobs offer that luxury.

What’s the best story you’ve been able to tell after a day at work?
Probably stories from the Grabaseat charters that I’ve been involved with.

There was the one where the captain (Mike Allsop) and I got to dress up as ‘Westies’ (think blonde wig, tight black jeans, leopard-print tank-top, high-heeled boots and big sunglasses - even my colleagues in the airport didn’t recognise me) and fly a bunch of people from Christchurch to Auckland (via Wellington to pick up a few more). We had Robyn Malcolm and some of the other Outrageous Fortune cast members on the flight and each of them spent a bit of time on the flight deck with us.

Then there was the America’s Next Top Model flight to Queenstown. (And no, Tyra Banks wasn’t on the flight). Captain Ian Davie-Martin and I flew an entire plane load of people and gear (and only five or six models) to Queenstown. We had Jay, the runway coach on the flight deck for take-off (he was ‘hiding’ from the contestants, as he was going to spring a mid-air runway challenge on them once we were airborne - which resulted in lots of excited screaming). Jay was very tall and surprisingly, really quite nervous about forgetting his lines!

Probably the best one, though, was the Bluff oyster charter last year. GM Airline Operations and Standards Captain David Morgan and I flew a B737 from Auckland to Invercargill and back to take a full plane-load of people to the Bluff oyster festival. The weather was perfect, and all the punters showed appropriately attired for the on-board “best decorated gumboots” competition. (All the crew were dressed as fishermen - although David and I couldn’t manage the gumboots, as they’re not all that flying friendly!) While the passengers were off enjoying the local fare, David and I spent several hours with the students at Southern Wings; one of the Aviation Institute’s Flight Training Organisation Partners. We talked to them about flying, and showed them through and around the B737. All of the students got a chance to sit on the flight deck and get their hands on a real aeroplane. I really enjoyed the opportunity to share my piece of the airline this directly with some of our future pilots; who rewarded me with their unbridled enthusiasm.

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