My happy place: Lee Maisey, pilot

By Bronwyn Sell

Lee Maisey loves the anticipation before the first flight of a shift. Photo / Doug Sherring
Lee Maisey loves the anticipation before the first flight of a shift. Photo / Doug Sherring

I really like the balance in my life. The place where I'm completely at ease is out on my boat with the sun shining, clear skies, sparkling water, my kids playing on the beach and great food. I've got my home in Auckland as well, which is really relaxing and beautiful, and my two boys, who are fantastic. And I love going to work.

I know it sounds really weird but I like the smell of a cold aeroplane when you first get on it in the morning, with a little bit of aviation fuel in the air. There's a sense of anticipation. It's always a challenge. You're taking a 60-tonne machine and putting it on the ground really softly while going 200km/h an hour.

We're doing a lot of Wellington journeys, and I like going there. It's an hour's flight and there's never a boring moment.

Everyone's got some story to tell about flying into Wellington but, as pilots, we love it. You want some sort of a challenge to keep your mind going and to keep it interesting.

You can get knots in your stomach when you're coming in to land, but it's part of the excitement of the job. Sometimes Wellington is hairy, and sometimes it's fun and sometimes it's, "Woo-hoo, we did it!"

I started flying when I was 16, and Dad took me out to the airport for a trial flight. I knew I didn't want to work in an office. I was 17 when I got my private licence, and 18 or 19 when I got my commercial.

I was a captain with Ansett when I was 24. I looked about 17 or 18. But I've never had anyone say, "Oh, you're a woman, you can't do it". Or, "You're really young, you can't do it".

Either you can do it or you can't.

I've seen this country inside-out through my job, and I love it. I've been on holiday for a month now, which has been outstanding. I love what I do with my children, but I'm ready to go back to work. I can't wait to get back in an aeroplane.

- Herald on Sunday

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