Aviation student soars to top of her class

Vanessa Brill-Holland, pictured with one of the School of Aviation’s Diamond aircraft.

The sole female in the School of Aviation's M66 cohort has been named the top student of her class. Vanessa Brill-Holland received the Outstanding Student Award at the school’s recent Wings Ceremony for overall excellence in the practical and academic aspects of the aviation programme.

She said she was “quite surprised” by the award, but pleased that all her hard work had paid off.

The School of Aviation’s Wings Ceremony takes place as each cohort completes the flight-training component of the Bachelor of Aviation degree. For most, getting their commercial pilot’s licence, or ‘Wings’, is just as significant as their graduation ceremony.

“Getting my Wings was a big milestone and represents everything the class and I have been through to get to this point in our career,” Ms Brill-Holland says.

The M66 cohort, which has just received their Wings.

Succeeding in a male-dominatd sector

She says she was never intimidated by being in a male-dominated programme. “I never felt at any disadvantage but, because there are so few women on the course, we supported each other a lot across the classes.”

Ms Brill-Holland says she dreamed about flying when she was in a desk-bound job and achieving her pilot’s licence is a dream come true.

“I knew I wanted to fly when I was sitting at my desk in an office job that overlooked all the planes flying in and out of Auckland airport,” she says.

Her most memorable experience at Massey was showing her friends why she loves flying so much.

“My highlight was the navigation flight I went on with two friends, where we flew from Palmerston North to Kaikoura to spend the day on the beach before flying home,” she says.

Like many of her classmates, Ms Brill-Holland hopes to enter Massey’s flight instructor’s course after she graduates and, ultimately, to become a pilot for a commercial airline overseas.

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