updated 15 Mar 2011, 11:41
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Mon, Jan 10, 2011
The Star/ANN
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Female pilot plays piano, drums, saxophone and flute
by P. Aruna

PETALING JAYA: When AirAsia's first female captain is not flying, she spends her time making music.

Norashikin Onn, 43, who has a degree in music, is a trained pianist and plays the drums, saxophone and flute as well.

She said her childhood ambition was to be an astronaut.

"I was fascinated by the uniform," she said, adding that although she never made it to the moon, her job still required her to be thousands of feet high up in the air.

The only woman among the 699 captains in AirAsia, Norashikin got her flying licence at the age of 22, while completing her music degree in Boston in the US.

She co-founded the 4B Youth Flying Club before taking up an offer in 1996 to fly with Pelangi Airways.

She became the first female captain of AirAsia in 2009 after joining the airline in 2007.

She had this to say about her famous employer: "Tony (Fern­andes) is a great person to work with.

"He takes the trouble to remember everyone's name and does all he can to make it a wonderful working environment for the staff," she said.

She has an imp­ressive resume.

She was listed as one of the 10 most respected women in Malaysia by Her World magazine in 1998

She was a finalist in the "Great Women of our Time Awards" in 2007 by Malaysia Women's Weekly ­magazine as well.

She was also the first woman in the country to obtain the Airline Transport Pilot Licence.

Norashikin is happily married and says she is blessed to have someone who truly understands and supports her career.

"He is very understanding and hardly complains even though my job requires me to travel frequently," she said.

Norashikin is a role model for many Malaysian women, but the captain says her role model is American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

When asked if there had been any negative feedback on her success, she said a male passenger once remarked: "a woman shouldn't be flying".

But Norashikin said the reaction had been more positive than negative with many people adding her on Facebook to say they were proud of her.

Despite her hectic schedule, Norashikin is currently pursuing a PhD in management.

On her retirement plans she said: "After I am done with flying, I want to sail around the world."

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