This is the incredible story of Silva Mcleod, the first Tongan woman to become an airline pilot, told with frankness and wit by Silva herself.
Silva was a Tongan girl from a small island with little hope of anything beyond getting married and having babies. Her dreams of becoming an airline pilot seemed just that — dreams — until
Ken McLeod came into Silva’s life. He was an Australian hired to build a hospital on her island of Vava‘u. She started dating him despite frowns from her family. After a whirlwind romance, they got married in a traditional Tongan ceremony before moving to Australia.
Silva faced challenges in Australia as a woman of color. Then came the biggest challenge of all — Ken was diagnosed with cancer. He said to Silva, ‘Do you still want to fly? Life is too short, if you have a dream, go for it.’
There were many barriers to succeeding in such a male-dominated field, but Silva refused to give in. She became the first Tongan female airline pilot and worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service amongst other small airlines then Virgin International, flying B777s around the world.
With every new height Silva reached in her career, Ken’s struggle with cancer continued. Despite the hardships, Silva is sure she would dare to do it all over again. Dare to love a white man and dare to pursue her dream to go from island girl to airline pilot.
“Wonderful to see Virgin Australia pilot Silva McLeod has published a book about her remarkable life – from a young girl on a small island in Tonga, to a pilot flying for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Virgin Family. Congratulations Silva.”
ABC Weekends with Andrea Gibbs
“An epic story of love, and heartbreak and family and sacrifice. One of the most moving reads you will have in a long time”
‘Told by Silva with frankness and wit, she takes us on a journey of cultural change. … challenges of pursuing a flying career and its impact on her family are set against the backdrop of the love story of her life with her husband and his battle with cancer.”
Holly Branson, Chief Purpose & Vision Officer at Virgin and Chair of Virgin United
“Such a wonderful inspiration for girls everywhere”
Australian Frequent Flyer Podcast
“In episode 101 of AFF on Air, Matt talks to Silva McLeod about the inspiring journey that took her from a small island in the Pacific to the cockpit of an international airline – flying over the Pacific.” Click here to listen
Public Service News
“Told with frankness and a selective photo album, the challenges of pursuing a flying career and its impact on her family are set against the backdrop of the love story of her life with her husband and his battle with cancer.” Click here to read in full
RNZ Nine to Noon – Kathryn Ryan
“Such an amazing story in so many ways”
“”If my story lands on a young girl out there, or a boy, or an Indigenous kid or someone from that kind of background, if sharing my little story could inspire them, I couldn’t be happier,” she says..”
Mornington Peninsula News
“written with humour, honesty and clarity, and is an enjoyable read that shines the light on love and loss, personal endurance, and goal setting.”
NZ Book Lovers
This is the life story of Silva Mcleod, the first Tongan woman to become an airline pilot. She’s still one of only a handful. Told by Silva with frankness and wit, it’s quite a story. Silva takes us on a journey of cultural change from her beginnings as a poor island girl to her marriage to an Australian. The challenges of pursuing a flying career and its impact on her family are set against the backdrop of the love story of her life with her husband and his battle with cancer.