Wendy Yawching: just watch me | History buzz (Mar/Apr 2023)

Wendy Yawching — the first female captain of a jetliner at BWIA (Caribbean Airlines’ predecessor) — has released a book not just about her groundbreaking journey, but full of encouragement for anyone to believe in and pursue their dreams. Jeremy Taylor learns more

  • Photo by Arlene Cherry Messiah courtesy Wendy Yawching
  • The Courage To Fly
  • Photo by Elspeth Duncan courtesy Wendy Yawching

Wendy Yawching was only 10 when she decided to be a pilot. Not just a pilot, but the captain of a big commercial jet. As the years went by people told her: Forget about it, flying is boys’ work, girls don’t fly airplanes, just get married and be a good wife and mother. 

But Wendy, a tenacious and self-directed Trinidadian, soon learned to say “I can. I will. Watch me” — and do her own thing regardless.

She has now published a memoir — The Courage to Fly — describing how she managed it. She had to fund her long rigorous training, and discover how much relentless hard work and sacrifice goes into becoming a pilot. She had to earn respect as a woman in a male-dominated world. 

But she emerged triumphantly as a pilot, and eventually a captain — the first woman to captain a jet aircraft for BWIA, Caribbean Airlines’ predecessor. Her sheer joy in flying jumps off every page. 

But The Courage to Fly is not only about flying planes. Underpinning the pilot stories is a narrative about believing in yourself, marching through the dark places, and facing fears. 

Tips for courageous living follow each chapter. And the adventure of flying is matched by a life of outdoor adventure travel, from skydiving through running an eco-travel business to launching an assault on the base camp of Mount Everest.

The Courage to Fly is an easy-going, chatty memoir designed to inspire self-confidence. It leaves its author retired from flying but pursuing a new passion: a consultancy dealing in Feng Shui and self-empowerment, the latter aimed especially at women and girls who are seeking the courage to fly. 

The Courage To Fly by Wendy Yawching (self-published 2022, ISBN 979-8-218-06723-6)

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