Ms. Hetzmannseder, do you enjoy being a pioneer?
Actually, I just wanted to fly. I only learned during the entrance exam that I would be one of the first women if I passed. Being a pioneer wasn't my goal at all; it was more of a side effect.
So, just a pilot. Why did you choose this job back then?
I imagined it would be so wonderful. When I was 16, I saw an airplane approaching for landing right over my head at the airport in Munich and I knew: That’s where I want to sit, all the way at the front. So I started my pilot training at Lufthansa in my early 20s. Since there had been a hiring freeze at Lufthansa before that, I studied musical education for a few semesters. To bridge the waiting period – and as a backup plan.
Which prejudices and challenges did you have to face?
I grew up almost exclusively with boys. I have a brother, was always part of a male clique. And I also had a lot of fun working with men at Lufthansa later. I never had to fight against anyone. I responded to silly remarks with silly remarks of my own. And later, when there started to be more women in the cockpits, I enjoyed talking to them – among like-minded people, so to speak – and I also thoroughly enjoyed flying with my female colleagues.
Are women in the cockpit completely normal nowadays?
People still take a closer look when they encounter a woman with three or four golden stripes on her shoulder. I include both the passengers and myself in this. Even today.
Do you have children?
I have two boys. They are 17 and 19 years old now.
How did you manage to reconcile that with your career as a pilot?
My husband worked part time as an electrical engineer and we had the additional luxury of having grandmothers and grandfathers nearby. I also worked part-time at Lufthansa for many years myself – the company offers great solutions for this.
Do you miss flying?
I am currently enjoying my vacations as well as being able to fly somewhere without having to fly back immediately.
Would you choose to be a pilot again?
The last 30 years at Lufthansa have been exciting. If I were 20 years old again today – I would become a pilot all over again.