To have your child follow in your footsteps and embark on the same career as you is an amazing feeling. But to have your child as your colleague is just on another level of wonderful!
Anaseini “Kamelia” (Lino) Zarka made history when she became the first Tongan female captain for a commercial airline. Zarka joined Hawaiian Airlines in 1992 as a flight attendant.
She recalls the exact moment she decided to become a pilot herself.
“I remember the captain called back to us [while flying over Tonga] and said that anyone who wants to sit up front [in the cockpit] is welcome to do so,” she remembered. “I did and sat behind the first officer, and as the plane rolled down the runway, I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ When I got home from that trip, I asked my husband what he thought about me becoming a pilot and he said I should go for it.”
After that Zarka went on to obtain her private pilot license after taking lessons from a local flight school. She then took a leave of absence, and worked to obtain her instrument, commercial, and multi-engine pilot and flight instructor certificates.
Zarka spent seven years with different regional carriers and flight instructing in her spare time so she could build up the hours she needed to pilot commercial jets.
Then on her 38th birthday in 1999, she got a call from the assistant chief pilot at Hawaiian Airlines at the time asking if she would be interested in becoming a commercial pilot. She of course, replied yes, and was hired immediately as a flight engineer on the DC-10.
After years of hard work, she was finally promoted as first officer for commercial jets.
Both her daughters became interested in flying because of accompanying their mom on flights and being inspired by her. Her older daughter Maria Zarka is now accompanying her mother as a colleague!
On, August 31 Captain Kamelia Zarka accompanied by her daughter First Officer Maria Zarka flew over the pacific together. The flight was the first mother-daughter flight for Hawaiian Airlines and hence historic in its own right.
Both women flew from neighboring islands on a Boeing 717 aircraft.
According to Hawaiian Airlines, Maria Zarka was hired as a Boeing 717 first officer earlier in the year while her mother has been a Boeing 717 captain for a while.