Spotlight on the Women of Bristow: Kelly Wood

In honor of Women's History Month, Bristow is shining a spotlight on the women who make Bristow soar. This interview features one of Bristow's cadet pilots Kelly Wood. Who was formerly part of our Aberdeen operations working in Engineering.

Kelly Wood

Talk about your role at Bristow and what are you currently working on?

In September last year, I left my role in Aberdeen line engineering to start on Bristow’s fully-sponsored UK Pilot Cadet Programme. I am currently studying with the three other cadets at Helicentre aviation in Leicester. We have completed our first sitting of ATPL(H) exams and are now doing alternate days in the classroom and flying the Guimbal Cabri G2 training aircraft.

What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?

I recently completed my first solo land away in the Cabri G2 flying from Leicester to Cranfield. This is the first step toward our qualifying cross country solo flight we must complete for our commercial license which requires us to land at two different airfields. It’s incredible using the skills we are taught in the classroom and seeing firsthand how the training all comes together once you are in the air.

What in your background prepared you for this assignment?

Knowing that flying has been my goal for many years, I started taking flying lessons, which gave me a good grounding to get started on the course. Additionally, my years already spent working on helicopters at Bristow has been an amazing way to build on my knowledge of aviation.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome them?

This wasn’t the first time I had applied for this cadet programme, I was not successful on my initial application, but I came away from the interview process with great feedback and ideas to work on. I listened to the feedback and used this time as best I could to put in the work until I could apply again. Succeeding with my application this second time around is a huge accomplishment for me and I’m so proud that my hard work paid off!

Who inspires you (work, personal and / or historical)?

Zara Rutherfords is a huge inspiration to me. At age 19, she became the youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world. I’ve followed her story since it was big in the news in August 2021. Her impressive aviation achievements are incredibly inspiring and to seeing her actively encouraging people to pursue STEM and aviation has been exciting to watch.

What advice do you have for women just beginning their career?

Be active in the subjects and extracurricular activities you enjoy the most. Having a natural interest in or getting joy out of a certain subject does really help when it comes to studying. I thoroughly enjoyed my years with the air cadets, and it showed me how many career options exist within aviation.

What is unique about your journey to your current role?

Retraining from an engineer to a pilot at age 29 is not the typical path, and I am proud to be following my passions. I am really looking forward to celebrating my big 30th birthday in the sky working towards my commercial license and my dream career goals with Bristow.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

This course requires a lot of your time to be dedicated towards your studies; however, we have managed some group study with other classmates from HC4. When we take a break, we have started exploring Leicester and the surrounding towns as this is a new city for all of us.

Kelly Wood