Women of Aviation Week Profile – Karolina Utko
March 5-11 is Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. COPA is proud to support this and the many other initiatives that work tirelessly to promote women’s involvement in all different aspects of the aviation industry. Each day during WOAW week, we are profiling a COPA member who is promoting aviation in her own area of the industry.
Today’s WOAW member profile is Karolina Utko, of Manitoba, who flies as a First Officer on a King Air 200. We asked Karolina about what inspired her to get involved in aviation, about her plans for the future, and how she sees COPA’s role in aviation:
What inspired you to get involved in aviation?
My family and I moved to Canada when I was 10 years old. The first time I saw an airplane was the one that took me overseas from Poland.
Tell us a short history of your aviation career up to now
I didn’t know this at the time, but my career started when I was 16 years old (2009) in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets preparing for my Glider Pilot License. Year later, I received my Private Pilot License and my love for flying took off. Because I just finished high school, I decided to attend University of Manitoba and pursue a degree in Atmospheric Science. In the meantime, I worked on my time building at Lyncrest on C-FLUG and started to work part time as a Dispatcher for Fast Air Ltd for three years. Since October 2016, I’ve been flying the King Air 200 as a First Officer flying Charters in a two crew environment, learning from amazing Captains who show me the way to success because someone showed them and at some point, I hope to show someone else.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I’ve been flying up north for almost a year and half and I love everything form beautiful scenery in transition seasons to the perfect office view to landing and taking off on remote gravel strips to honestly getting the job done and enjoying a hot cup of coffee.
My future goal is to end up flying overseas on a route to Poland. I always wanted to use my Polish language and welcome passengers, because that’s what made my first experience flying that much more memorable.
What do you do in your spare time?
Currently, I am in wedding planning season. I am getting married in August 2018. My fiancé is in the military, and we spend time together with our animals (rabbit and dog) or visit family as much as we can.
What are you doing to encourage other girls and women to get into aviation?
Currently, I am encouraging girls through word of mouth to anywhere I fly, whether its up north or down to the US. I was a President of the Manitoba Chapter of 99s for two years, which gave me the opportunity to work with other girls just as passionate for aviation. I’m always happy to be a guest lecturer, write articles for magazines, attend conferences, tutor and be involved in aviation events. In February, for “I love to Read” month I read “Leonardo and the flying boy” to grade five students at West St Paul School. I am very grateful for all my mentors for helping me achieve so much, I wish to continue and share my passion and help mentor others.
What does COPA mean to you? What are some of the ways the organization might help women get their start in aviation?
COPA gave me the opportunity to time build for cheap with the lower insurance rate and cheaper fuel on cross-countries on C-FLUG. It’s not easy to financially support your pilot license while attending university and working part time. Because of scholarships, I was able to come out debt free and by being involved in the community; I gained knowledge about starting my aviation career. In my opinion, the COPA organization could help women in aviation by supporting them with a scholarship, preferably by province.
What is the farthest north you have flown?
In November 2017, I went on an Arctic trip and flew Environment Canada to many of the upper air stations. This was especially rewarding for me because of my passion for weather. It was also the first time I experienced 24 hours of darkness in Resolute Bay.