BGS Student Stories – Adele Dobler

In this series of blogs, we hear from Bristol Groundschool students about their time studying with us and why they chose to become a pilot.

Adele Dobler currently works as an ATPL-H NVG Captain, flying with the Air Ambulance in Kenya. After winning the Bristol Groundschool scholarship awarded by the British Women Pilots’ Association, Adele now plans to gain her UK ATPL(H) licence.

Here she shares her story about why she chose to become a helicopter pilot and her advice to other women looking to pursue aviation as a career.


How did you get into flying?

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.


Why did you choose to pursue a career as a pilot?

I had been searching for my path for a while doing odd jobs, going to university, travelling, etc but I always felt like it was never quite right.  After my intro flight, I knew I could never see myself doing anything else.  It was simple.  Once I finished my commercial license, I set different goals in order to stay motivated.  My first goal was that I would stay in the industry long enough to pay back my line of credit.  Then I would get my first flying job, then my first 1000 hrs.  I have done that each step of the way, and I am now an ATPL-H NVG Captain flying air ambulance in Kenya, something I could have never imagined a decade ago.  Flying HEMS is my true passion and I struggle at the thought of finding another career.  I hope I never have to!


Why did you apply for the Bristol Groundschool BWPA scholarship?

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!


What are the main factors you would consider when choosing where to study your ATPL theory?

One of the main factors in my choice 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.  It 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.


What advice would you give other women looking to become pilots?

I’m not much for giving out advice, but I can say for myself that I decided from the beginning never to let anyone else’s fears or insecurities keep me from chasing my dream.  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!