Teenager CJ Rankin will be the first female Indigenous Qantas pilot

An Indigenous teenager has set her sights to the sky and is set to become Qantas’ first female Aboriginal pilot.

17-year-old CJ Rankin has been accepted into the Qantas pilot training school, where she will spend 55 weeks training to fulfil her dream to become a commercial pilot.

The teenager has already racked up 40 flying hours in a light aircraft, including seven solo flights, since taking her first lesson two years ago.

“I had my first flight in Perth, my uncle bought a ticket for me to fly over Rottnest Island,” she told 7News.

“I really enjoyed the first time.”

Speaking to the ABC, Miss Rankin, who grew up in Minmarama, Darwin and entered care in 2013, said she looked up to “black role models” growing up.

“I was pretty lucky to have people like Nova Peris [the former Olympic sprinter] and Timmy Duggan [the former NBL player] keep me focused, they were role models for me,” she said.

“They taught me to be strong in my culture — we are the next generation, and we must keep that alive.”

Taking to the skies, she hopes to inspire the next generation of women.

“I feel proud of my culture and being the first Indigenous pilot for Qantas,” she told 7News.

“I want to inspire younger Indigenous female and also non-Indigenous females as well.”

Miss Rankin will move from Darwin to Toowoomba in April where she’ll undertake flight training to gain a diploma in aviation.

She hopes to fly her family on-board after she graduates in 2025.

A spokesperson for the academy told ABC women only make up around 5 per cent of commercial airline pilots globally, and more than 7 per cent at Qantas.

“We know how important it is to tap into a broader, more diverse talent base than the industry has traditionally,” they said.

Read related topics:Qantas

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