Announcing the Winners of the 2022 Bristol Groundschool British Woman Pilots’ Association Scholarship

Bristol Groundschool (BGS) is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2022 British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship.

British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship Winner, Adele Dobler

The winners, Adele Dobler and Steph Smith, will both receive a scholarship that will cover 50% of the course cost for ATPL (A/H) at Bristol Groundschool, as part of BGS’s wider ongoing commitment to helping improve gender parity in the airline industry.

Alex Whittingham, Bristol Groundschool’s Managing Director, said “we’re proud to award these scholarships to Adele and Steph and hope that it will support them on their paths to becoming pilots. The standard of applications for the BWPA Bristol Groundschool scholarships are always very high and we hope that this will encourage other women to pursue a career in aviation.”

Adele Dobler said “I started flying in 2009 in Victoria, BC, Canada.  I had a bit of an unconventional start as I wasn’t the person to grow up wanting to be a pilot.  It honestly never occurred to me because I hadn’t seen anyone who looked like me in the role, so I never thought it was even an option but always admired it!  I happened to meet a female cherry-drying pilot one day, had a conversation with her, and she said, “yeah, I do that!”  I got the bug and couldn’t stop thinking about it. After a few more twists and turns, I finally booked an intro flight and was instantly hooked.  I haven’t looked back since then.”

Steph Smith said “For me, the love of aviation started at a young age. I grew up attending airshows and visiting

British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship Winner, Steph Smith

aircraft museums, living close to Duxford meant it was a regular place to visit during the holidays. My first flying experience was in a glider at the age of 10. My Dad had a trial flight that day and I declared loudly that it looked awesome and I wanted to try! The next thing I knew I had a parachute on and I was preparing for my first ever winch launch. After that I was well and truly bitten by the flying bug, spending every weekend and school holiday on the airfield.”

Bristol Groundschool’s distance learning course allows students to study their ATPL theory from anywhere in the world and to sit their exams at a venue near them. Steph said “Flexibility and the ability to study from home are very important to me, as I’ll be undertaking my studies while still working full time on a rotating shift pattern. Good reviews and former students successfully gaining employment in commercial aviation roles are something I also looked for. I know a few people that have used or are currently studying with Bristol Groundschool for their ATPL theory, so I asked them about their personal experience and opinions of the training.”

Adele said “I applied for the Bristol Groundschool BWPA scholarship in order to help me with my UK license conversion.  It is an intensive process and this will push me in the direction to gain my UK ATPL-H, a license that only a handful of women have.  The last stats from 2018 show only 24 women with an EASA ATPL-H. I plan to join this exclusive club!

“One of the main factors in my choice [of ground school] was having the online option.  Since I am working in Kenya it is imperative I have a course I can work on while I’m abroad.  [Bristol Groundschool] is also one of the most reputable schools to score the highest marks on the written exams.  I am so grateful to have been afforded this scholarship, it has set out the foundation for my UK career and I cannot wait to get started.”

When asked what advice they would give other women looking to become pilots, Adele said “Once I found aviation, I knew I would never be satisfied in any other career.  So, even when I was told I can’t lift fuel drums, or that girls won’t get hired, or a certain company or country is out of reach, I ignored the negative thoughts and carried on anyway.  There will always be someone doubting your ideas and it is really easy to internalise it so tune out the naysayers (including your own brain…)  Of course, I have made mistakes and taken wrong turns along the way but at least they were never for lack of trying.  My biggest fear is looking back at missed opportunities because I was too afraid to even try!”

Steph said “Just go for it! Whether you want to fly for a hobby or for a living just take the first step and approach your local flying club, they will be more than happy to guide you along the way. Aviation may seem to have always been a male-dominated industry, but now it is becoming more diverse and women are taking on the roles previously seen as stereotypically male in increasing numbers.

“There are lots of networks out there that specialise in supporting women in aviation. The British Women Pilots’ Association has been a great help to me, I’ve made friends with pilots at varying stages of their aviation journey and it’s been a wealth of valuable experience, support and guidance.”

Bristol Groundschool is Europe’s leading ATPL and CPL modular theory provider with the option for distance learning, enabling students to learn from anywhere in the world.