Twenty-one-year-old airline pilot Tristan Mazzu thought she’d found her dream job when she was hired as a first officer at SkyWest Airlines in 2017. But the glamour of flying was elevated when she was selected by Olay to appear in an ad campaign celebrating women who take on challenges. Her inadvertent entry into the world of modeling, has turned Mazzu into a role model for girls.
In the minute-long ad, Mazzu reflects on the instructor who questioned her potential, stereotypes that reinforce discrimination, voices of doubt in her own head and the raised eyebrows of others when they see her in her pilot’s uniform. She even references the force of gravity that seeks to keep her earthbound as she thanks adversity for making her accomplishment all the richer.
Attendees at Women In Aviation International’s Girls in Aviation Day in Dallas applauded the commercial when it was shown at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Saturday, but perhaps no girl appreciated it as much as Hanna Einemo, 16, whose idea it was to have Mazzu share her inspirational message with the girls of North Texas.
“She is so cool,” Hanna, a high school junior from the Dallas suburb of Coppell said. She showed the commercial to her family and her friends. “I thought it was an awesome video.”
Hanna understood the doubts Mazzu voices in the advertisement. She had doubted herself. Hanna was five when her father, Svein Einemo, a captain with Southwest asked her if she wanted to learn to fly. Her response was straight out of the 1970s.
“I can’t be a pilot, girls can be pilots, it’s too hard for them,” she remembers telling him. And even when her father reassured her that girls not only could be pilots but already were, Hanna said she didn’t believe him, “I never saw a girl pilot I always saw them as flight attendants.”
Ten years later, Capt. Einemo sent Hanna on a discovery flight. For dad, it was a case of be-careful-what-you-ask-for because Hanna was hooked.
“After my discovery flight, I wanted to fly most every day of every week. He said I could do one flight a week,” Hanna said. But even when she wasn’t flying she was thinking about it. “There’s nothing better than taking off and seeing everything below you.”
Hanna’s first flight instructor, 23-year old Lesley Shaughnessy, quashed any lingering doubts Hanna had about flying.
“At the beginning I was really scared,” Hanna said of the first time she soloed after turning 16. “Lesley said she knew I could do it. It was really fun and when I landed it was one of the best landings. I was really proud of myself.”
Hanna is the beneficiary of a father who pushed her to expand her horizons and a fortuitous television commercial that spoke to her. But for girls who don’t have someone in the business pushing them forward, events like Girls in Aviation Day expand the circle of beneficiaries.
Into this relatively new effort, Olay has landed, trying to sell face cream to a younger generation of women. For some girls though, this ad is selling beautiful possibilities and broader horizons.
Girls in Aviation Day 2018 will be held October 13th but some chapters, including the one in North Dallas, held events in September.
I am a journalist, a published author, speaker and broadcaster specializing in aviation and travel.