As Qantas nears its 100th birthday, we celebrate the people who help make it the spirit of Australia. This month: Second Officer Jess Cassebohm on life in the cockpit.
“When I was four years old my father, David Cassebohm, who’d just retired as an RAAF fighter pilot, took my mum up in a Macchi to do some aerobatics at the Point Cook air base [near Melbourne]. I remember watching the plane twisting in the air, in awe that my dad was commanding it. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up.’ Dad became a Qantas 747 First Officer and the seed was sown for me.
I went on a work trip with him to Los Angeles when I was seven and I was allowed to sit in the flight deck during take-offs and landings. Later, I did my high-school work experience in the Qantas admin department and in 2008 was accepted into the Qantas cadetship program, receiving my commercial licence a year later. I was always drawn to the technical aspects of flying so it was a natural fit for me.
In 2012 I started with QantasLink as a First Officer on the Dash 8. It’s where I learnt much of what makes me the pilot I am today. There weren’t many female pilots when I was starting out and I have huge respect for trailblazers like Lisa Norman [Qantas’s 787 Dreamliner chief pilot who captained the inaugural non-stop Perth to London flight in 2018]. I’ve flown jumbos with other female pilots twice and passengers are happy to see women in the cockpit. But at the end of the day we’re just pilots doing a job.
I love being in the sky. I’ve flown over snow-capped mountains in Vancouver, seen the Southern Lights and meteor showers and I’ve flown through spectacular thunderstorms. Some people joke they’ve got the best office in the world but nothing can beat the view from mine.”