On a groundbreaking day for Hawaiian Airlines, Kamelia and Maria Zarka took control of a B717, the airline’s first mother-daughter pilot team.
Motherly advice is part of growing up, but it’s a little different when mom is sitting in the left-hand seat of a jetliner, and you’re in the right one. Last Friday, that happened on a Hawaiian Airlines aircraft when a mother and daughter took the controls of a B717 for a day of Pacific flying.
Captain Kamelia Zarka and her daughter, First Officer Maria Zarka, shared the flight deck of the Boeing B717 to operate a series of Neighbor Island flights. This was the 1st mother-daughter pairing had flown for Hawaiian Airlines (Hawaiian) in its 93-year history. The pair, looking equally proud of each other and suitably decked out with a lei, greeted passengers at boarding, shared selfies, and encouraged young girls to follow their dreams to the cockpit.
Kamelia has been with Hawaiian for three decades, joining the airline as a flight attendant in 1992. She was born and increased in the Kingdom of Tonga and became the 1st Tongan woman to captain a commercial airliner. After joining Hawaiian, she set her mind to earning her pilot’s wings, and after stints at regional carriers, she rejoined Hawaiian in 1999 as a flight engineer on a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. She later moved to the Boeing B767 transpacific fleet as a 1st officer before becoming a B717 Neighbor Island fleet captain.
- Israel banning four-engine aircraft amid environmental concerns
- Prime Minister Modi commissions India’s 1st indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant | Exclusive
- Jet Airways said, “Imli Candy” is Coming Back | Why they used to serve it?| Everything you need to Know is Here
Kamelia is a passionate advocate and role model for women in aviation, which has demonstrably rubbed off on her 2 daughters, Maria and Kaimana. She stated that flying for Hawaiian Airlines with Maria, side-by-side in the cockpit, was a dream come true.
In the hard slog to gain licenses and build hours, Kamelia spent time flight instructing, often taking Maria with her on flights. “Those flights and our traveling on my non-revenue benefits with Hawaiian Airlines seem to have stimulated Maria’s desire to fly. Then Kaimana, my youngest daughter, caught the bug after fleeing with her sister, and later in high school, she too decided to become a pilot.
Hawaiian Airlines pilot
Before joining Hawaiian as a 717 pilot in April, Maria flew with US carrier Republic Airways in New Jersey for 2 years. Maria told that people were always telling her how amazing it is to fly with her mom, and she has also experienced that. “She’s an amazing pilot, and learning from her is learning from one of the best. Now I call her Captain Mom.”
“I feel fortunate to have a mom who cares so much and has worked hard to pave the way for other females and me as the first Tongan woman to captain a commercial airline. And now it’s my turn. I’m looking forward to continuing my mother’s legacy while making my mark as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot.”
Kaimana is following the same path, studying aeronautical science at Emery-Riddle University in Arizona. She has gained her private and instrument licenses and is well on the way to joining her mother and sister in the cockpit at Hawaiian.
With their three-person flight crew, the Zarkas would be ideally suited to the DC-10, the same aircraft Kamelia kicked off her piloting career at Hawaiian Airlines.
Follow us on Google News For Latest Updates