Malin wears her own uniform and Carrera sunglasses, $149, nordstrom.com
When you listen to Rydqvist talk about flying, it’s obvious that “pilot” would have been her childhood dream job. But didn’t see it as an option for herself.
“My mum is in aviation and when I was a kid, she’d take me on her flights. I got to sit in the cockpit a lot, so my interest in flying started really young, but I never knew I could be a pilot because no one suggested that. Guys play with airplanes and girls have dolls,” she said. “After high school you have to think about what you want to do with your life. I was thinking, ‘What do I like to do?’ I love to travel, to work with my hands. I could never sit in the same office all the time—I like to be outside, meeting people.” A friend gifted her a flying lesson for her 21st birthday, and that was it. She enrolled in the same flight school as Pettersson. Rydqvist found a job first; the two stayed in touch, with Rydqvist offering advice about landing a job, and eventually they became roommates.
She already stands out in her profession, and she’s not afraid to do the same when it comes to personal style. “When I’m off, I really like to express my own style,” Rydqvist said, adding that she loves the classic pilot’s uniform’s crisp look. “I like to dress like a woman; I love to wear high heels. When I’m at work I have to wear the tie, so I like the contrast.”
From left to right: Maria wears Reiss jacket, $375, reiss.com; Day Birger et Mikkelsen t-shirt, Reiss pants, $425, reiss.com; Carrera sunglasses, $149, nordstrom.com; Malin wears Staud top, $90, staud.com, Staud pants, $100, staud.com, Carrera sunglasses, $179, nordstrom.com; Maria wears Longchamp dress, Carrrera sunglasses, $159, nordstrom.com
Standing out from the crowd attracts attention—good and bad.
Chatting with the trio and seeing how confident and self-assured they are, it’s somewhat of a shock to learn the types of comments they’ve overheard.
“Have you ever opened the cockpit door and heard, ‘Oh, thank god we landed safely—we had a woman flying’?” Fagerström asked the group. “If you go to the bathroom in the middle of the flight, a passenger sitting in the front will say, ‘How old are you? Are you able to fly?’ I don’t think they mean anything bad, but I don’t think males get the same kind of comments. It’s a bit exhausting always have to prove you can do a good job.”
“I felt the need to prove myself in school, but the longer you’re in it…I don’t feel that way anymore,” Rydqvist chimed in. “I do my job, I do it well, and I know that. We land the airplane safely, and then people can think whatever they want to think.”
If passengers sometimes have something to say, flight crews and captains have never been dismissive when they see the women coming aboard.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been treated differently from my male colleagues, that’s important to point out,” Fagerström said. “It’s positive, like, ‘Oh, I’m flying with a girl today!’ Never anything negative, and there shouldn’t be—we’re all operating under the same standards.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you’re doing the same thing. We don’t have to pretend to be a man to do the job: We’re good as women,” Rydqvist added. Compared to other jobs where natural aptitude or physical abilities can make a major difference, piloting relies heavily on the fundamentals you can only get through hard work. “It’s one of the few jobs where you really have to study. You have to do the same job as everybody.”
“You can’t cheat your way into being a pilot,” Fagerström said. “You have to go through the same processes.”
Styled by Isabel Dupre, Makeup by Euridice Martin, Hair by Mark Williamson.