To the best of anyone’s knowledge so far, Shadunjen van Kampen has already made history and she’s only 21. The Yukon resident could be the first First Nations woman from the territory to earn a commercial pilot licence. If there was one, it would be great to know who, but if there’s not, I wouldn’t be surprised–– there’s not that many women in the field,” Van Kampen told the Whitehorse Star. Van Kampen got her ticket on April 30. She spent almost three years training and building hours to get the rating.
She started by taking lessons on Vancouver Island but financial pressures forced her to return home but that worked out for the best. Her father, Ukjese Van Kampen, is a retired pilot who dusted off his logbook and got current to help his daughter out. “He hadn’t flown in a decade, but he renewed his instructor’s rating and was able to be one of my instructors,” van Kampen said.“It was great and saved me a lot of money, and it’s gotten him back into flying a bit as well.” Van Kampen already finds herself considered a role model. “I don’t think it’s a lack of interest from women, but maybe girls get the idea it’s not accessible, or not open and doable for them,” van Kampen said.“Often, when I talk to girls, they’ll say stuff like, ‘I can’t believe you can fly an airplane, that’s so cool.’ When I talk to guys, they’ll say they’ve considered flight school too.” Van Kampen has worked for Great River Air for three years and will continue to develop as a commercial pilot for them.