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Petrina Simpson | Fiji Airways

A different journey – by A330 First Officer Petrina Simpson

I’m packing a bag, getting ready for a long flight. I’m excited to be flying to another country. Within 3 hours and I’m in the air, en route to our destination.

Nine hours later and we’re at top of descent. A different country lies beneath us, bright lights and skyscrapers almost reaching the skies

Every traveller knows the thrill that comes next. Wheels meet runway, and there’s a roar as the thrust reversers kick in.

There’s a short taxi but after almost ten hours onboard, it seems to go on forever. We’re at the gate. Brakes set, engine masters off, seatbelt signs off.

As the engines wind down to a complete stop, I’m filled with relief. I take a deep breath and tell myself with a smile, “we’re here, we’re finally here!”

Snap out of it. You’re not on vacation, and covid is still here. There are protocols to be followed, and followed strictly. There’s no layover, not even for a night.

Rush… rush… rush! Planning and briefing, cargo loading and refuelling, checks and checklists. There’s no time to look out that window.

Before you know it, we’re back on the runway and powering up. Cleared for take-off, wheels off, and we’re on the ten hour flight home.

My bag stays packed, my daydream remains a dream. After around 23 hours in the aircraft, we’re home.

I love flying these beautiful beasts, but what really makes this job fulfilling is knowing that I’ve just helped deliver much-needed cargo in the midst of a pandemic.

I look forward to once more flying passengers into and out of an open and covid-free Fiji.

Until then, this is the life of a (fully vaccinated) Fiji Airways freighter pilot.

Vinaka (Thank you)