Female pilot displays dogged determination to get sky high

Ruth after her first solo flight in June.
Ruth after her first solo flight in June.

A year ago mother-of-three Ruth Devlin aimed for the skies and after a nervous start to life as a pilot she’s grown accustomed to having her head in the clouds.

Ruth (47) qualified as a pilot after overcoming bouts of travel sickness, difficulties with the landing process and the ‘scary’ task of recovering the plane from a nosedive.

Her determination to succeed is an inspiration and now that she’s got her pilot’s licence her confidence is sky high.

She explained: “It took me about 80 hours starting last November. The average would be about 40 to 50.

“I had a hell of a time learning to land. I just couldn’t do it but I got there eventually. In the early days there were a few times when I thought I wasn’t cut out for flying.

“I was taking travel sickness tablets to get through the first five or six lessons. I was quite nervous at the start.

“I had my moments of doubt, but had a dogged determination that I wanted to do it so I just stuck with it.

“I’ve always been fascinated with flying. For Christmas in 2011 I asked for a flying lesson. I started at Kernan Valley Flying Club.

“You go up for an hour with an instructor and if all goes well you’re allowed to fly yourself. When I’m up there I’m beaming from ear to ear. There’s nothing like it.”

Ruth added: “Some aspects of it are quite scary. There’s what they call unusual attitude. Attitude is the position of the plane’s nose in relation to the ground. Unusual attitude is when the instructor puts the plane in a position where it’s about to go out of control and you have to recover it.

“There’s four types of unusual attitude. Nose high, nose low, nose high and banking and nose low and banking.

“It scared the living daylights out of me, I’ll freely admit.”

The Lurgan woman continued: “Flying a microlight is a close as you come to flying with your arms out.

“I definitely wouldn’t have any ambition to be a commercial pilot. That would take the enjoyment out of flying. At the minute I just want to fly.

“There’s a great social scene with the flying community.

“I’m the only female pilot in flying club. I get treated the same as all the other members though I do I get a bit of stick about the men doing the refuelling for me.”

Ruth is married to Peter and has three daughters - Sarah, Emma and Maeve. She said: “It’s recommended you fly either solo or with other pilots until you’ve got the confidence to take a non-pilot on board.

“Peter was due to go up with me on Sunday but the weather was too bad.

“The girls are waiting to see how it goes with Peter before committing to anything.”