Maria Ziadie-Haddad is excited about flying planes

By DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, December 19, 2011

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CAPTAIN Maria Ziadie-Haddad was last week awarded for her outstanding contribution to the development of aviation in Jamaica by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority as it celebrated 100 years of powered flights.


Ziadie-Haddad was one of the first women in the Western Hemisphere to become a commercial jet airline pilot when she was hired by Air Jamaica as a second officer in 1979.


She was also the first female captain on Air Jamaica in 1986 and the first on an all-female flight in 1997, consisting of six women.


She is currently working with Atlas Air Inc in New York.


"I love flying," Ziadie-Haddad said. "I love it! It's in my blood. It's in my nature. My husband is also an airline pilot," she said looking over at her husband Brian, who sat smiling in one corner of the Observer's meeting room on Thursday.


"We love it. It started when I was very young and my mom took me for my first flight..."


Brian, too, did 21 years with Air Jamaica, 10 years as captain at the Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing and has been with JetBlue as a captain for the past seven years.


He admitted that while he was attracted to Ziadie-Haddad as a pilot, it was really her mind that had him hooked.


Ziadie-Haddad's interest in flying started at age five when she took her first familiarisation flight.


This passion was further piqued when she started working with Air Jamaica as a flight attendant in 1974. In March 1975, she took an introductory flight at Wings Jamaica Ltd and commenced flying lessons, earning her private pilot license that December.


In 1977, she earned her Jamaican commercial license, the third woman to do so in Jamaica. Then in 1978 she worked part time at Rutair and Wings Jamaica Ltd as an instructor before joining Air Jamaica as a second officer in 1979.


Come 2012, the proud female pilot will be flying the new Boeing 747-8 freighters.


Ziadie-Haddad is a member of the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, the Ninety-Nines, Women in Aviation International, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.


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