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Marie-Francoise the pilot

The sky is her limit, or at least a starting point.

As a little girl Marie-Francoise could watch take-offs and landings for hours. She followed all those magical airplanes, maybe on their way to somewhere beautiful. She wanted up, up, up in the sky.

The year Marie-Francoise Cabel turned twelve it was decided that the family would move to the French city Orléans. At the same time the Orléans airport moved very close to their new home. And these two simultaneous moves would result in a high-flying passion for one little girl.

When installed in the new home, Marie-Francoise jumped on her bike every Sunday to go watch the construction of the new airport and get a glimpse of all the amazing airplanes.

“I could sit there for hours, mesmerized, with strong memories from when I went to Paris with my parents. It had been a big experience for me to watch all the airplanes at Orly Airport and now that I had an airport that close to my home and the possibility to watch airplanes often, I could not get enough,” explains Marie-Francoise.

Two years later Marie-Francoise’s father told her to grab the jacket; they were going to the air club, a place to take flying lessons.

“He said ‘I know you want to become a pilot, Marie-Francoise’. So we went there and they told me I could start the same day.”

Besides of regular school hours, Marie-Francoise was now also a pilot student. The studies were quite expensive so all her money went into this and all weekends and holidays were from now on dedicated to learning how to fly. And at the air club, it was mainly Marie-Francoise and the boys.

“Girls becoming pilots was rare back then in the 80’s, but it did not bother me. I knew what I wanted. I wanted up in the sky.”

Since then Marie-Francoise hasn’t stopped flying. It started with gliders, a type of airplane without engines which she still loves to fly. But her favorite airplane is her own one.

“It was my dream for a long time to have an airplane of my own. I and my husband, who is also a dedicated pilot who I met at the air club, are allowed to do all maintenance on the airplane by ourselves. It is like our little family member, we call him ‘Cirrus’ after the clouds.”

It requires hard work to keep the airplane and pilot skills in top conditions. As a pilot Marie-Francoise need to take tests every year to get to keep her license. But the joy she and her family get out of it makes it all worth it.

“All our vacations and weekends are spent in the airplane. Sometimes we travel far and sometimes we stay close to Orléans and cruise over the beautiful castles of the Loire Valley.”

Being up in the sky fills Marie-Francoise with pure happiness and a feeling of absolute freedom. It is also a way for her to de-stress as she needs to be fully concentrated all the time.

 “You need to be confident in yourself, able to quickly analyze situations and take decisions accordingly in order to stay safe. I never take any unnecessary risks, and since the sky is not always clear I am also educated to be able to fly safely in bad weather conditions. I love flying, but I also love life,” Marie-Francoise says and smiles.

Except of becoming a pilot Marie-Francoise also eventually became an engineer. She thought of working somewhere she could build airplane engines but ended up in the Medtech industry, working with Quality and Regulatory Compliance at Getinge.

“We build technically advanced machines at Getinge too. And my work and hobby go hand in hand; I analyze and take quick decisions, which is something I love,” says Marie-Francoise. “I am grateful to my father who brought me to the air club that day. He made sure that little twelve year old girl did not just sit and watch from the outside, he showed me I had wings enough to go follow my dream.”