Aviation: Now you're really flying

Kirsty Walkey, 20, talks to Dan Poole about how her childhood fascination with aviation led to her starting her own company
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The Independent Online

How did you first become interested in aviation?

From an early age I've been fascinated with aviation. Family holidays were great - the buzz of the airport and boarding the plane were always a highlight of my trip. My father's interest in flying and gaining his Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) gave me the opportunity to learn and develop flying skills from an early age.

How did you get into the career?

On completion of my highers in Scotland I was unsure of which career path to take. I felt practical experience rather than university would enable me to broaden my knowledge and the horizons of any future career. I then gained a job at a small regional airport where I had a good mentor and a chance to learn more about the aviation industry. I also decided to gain a professional certificate in marketing. This was for two reasons: to be more appealing to any prospective employer and to develop a deeper understanding of the importance that marketing has on a company.

What does your company, 2 Plane Easy, do?

It was primarily set up to provide support services and advice to the general aviation community for trip-planning within the UK and around Europe. We also provide clubs, groups and aviation enthusiasts with complete packages tailored to their individual needs. This varies from guided tours to open-air concerts and, for the more adventurous, motor sport packages.

When and how did you come up with the idea?

On many flying trips with my father - both in the UK and Europe - I found that when we reached a destination there was no guidance available regarding the best hotels, restaurants, transportation or entertainment in the area. I thought it would be good to offer pilots and their families a personal service where I would research that and allow them to really enjoy their flying experience at their destination.

How did you get it off the ground?

We launched at the London Air Show 2006. At the show we marketed the company to the general aviation community with the use of bold branding and video support. We were also well supported by the aviation magazines through their editorials, which helped to highlight 2 Plane Easy's assets.

Is it going well?

As with any new company it is always difficult to get established. We have had a few clients and repeat business, which is always good. We are always trying to expand, and feel there is a niche in the aviation market for us. It takes time to build up a good reputation in the industry but I am sure it will happen. We have recently added our corporate brokerage service to our product range. We provide aircraft charter from small aircraft to large jets travelling worldwide. In addition we have exclusive, tailor-made holiday packages ranging from shopping trips in Paris to luxury holidays in the Maldives.

Have you got a pilot's licence?

I got a PPL when I was 18. It involved 45 hours of flight training to include at least 10 hours of solo flight. Along with the flying I had to pass seven ground exams (not the most fun part!) and a final flight test with an examiner. It was worth all the effort and becomes very addictive - I also undertook additional training to include aircraft with variable pitched propellers and retractable undercarriages.

Do you think that there are enough women in the aviation industry?

Commercial aviation has definitely seen an increase in women in recent years, although we are still a minority. I think in the past many women saw the industry as very male-dominated and difficult to succeed in. However, the aviation industry is always changing and provides a very stimulating and challenging environment in which to work. I really enjoy it and think this is the only industry for me.

For more information visit www.2planeeasy.com

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