Island Girl to Airline Pilot Book Launch in partnership with Virgin Australia
26|04|23 – 3:30pm – Melbourne, VIC
Join Silva McLeod as she launches her memoir Island Girl to Airline Pilot in the Virgin Australia Lounge at Melbourne Airport Domestic Terminal.
Copies of Silva’s book Island Girl to Airline Pilot, detailing how she went from a small island in Tonga to the cockpit of Virgin’s Boeing 777, will be available for purchase on the day with thanks to the support of Collins Booksellers Sunbury.
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Book Launch at The Dunes Golf Club
5|5|23 – 4:30pm – Rye, VIC
Join Silva and friends as they celebrate the launch of Island Girl to Airline Pilot at The Dunes Golf Club. Books will be available to purchase on the day thanks to the support of Antipodes Bookshop
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Silva Mcleod was born on the small Tongan island of Vava‘u. She married Ken, an Australian, in a traditional Tongan ceremony before moving to Australia. As a woman of color in Australia in the 1980s, she encountered frustration and racism, along with the guilt of leaving her Tongan family.
Silva had always dreamed of flying and with the encouragement of her husband she braved the barriers to enter the male-dominated field of aviation. She became the first Tongan female airline pilot and worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service amongst other small airlines before joining Virgin International, flying B777s around the world.
Silva is a grandmother of seven and wrote Island Girl to Airline Pilot to inspire a new generation to dare to dream, no matter the odds.
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.
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.