It was on March 5th at Roissy airport, on the outskirts of Paris, amongst the comings and goings of commercial aircraft, that, exceptionally, the biggest airport in Europe welcomed a small single-engined airplane, and above all its pilot, Dorine Bourneton. On the day following International Women's Day, we wanted to introduce you to a lady that has fought to make professional piloting accessible to all.
From very early on, Dorine held her father's passion for flying. But in 1991, a Piper light aircraft, like this one, with Dorine and three other people on board, crashed. The young girl of sixteen was the only survivor, although she had lost the use of her legs.
Yet the passion to fly had not left her. Thanks to an adapted flight control system, which activated the normally operated foot pedals manually, she was able to pass her pilot’s licence. She found freedom in the air, and one way of getting out of out of her wheelchair.
So when she learned that disabled people were excluded from obtaining a professional pilot's license, Dorine picked up the gauntlet, but the fight was not always easy.
"A few years back, we came across a number of obstacles. People would not take us seriously, and did not understand the desire we had to become professional pilots wanting to make a living out of our passion. Then there was the signing of the French ministerial order of Dominique Bussereau in 2003, and today there are seven professional disabled pilots."
One month ago, her commitment earned her the highest decoration in France ; Knight of the Legion of Honour (Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur). Dorine Bourneton’s story is also the subject of a book, "Au-dessus des nuages" (Above the clouds), brought out just a few weeks ago by the publishing house, Robert Laffont. Her autobiography, recounts Dorine Bourneton’s daily struggle for equality for disabled people, in the air, and on the ground. Today, Dorine Bourneton has taken up a new challenge: that of aerobatics.
"Two disabled pilots, Guillaume and me, who, in becoming the first two aerobatic pilots in France, have opened the way for others."
And 2015 should continue in style for the young woman, since she will be giving an aerobatics demonstration at the Paris Air Show (Le Bourget) in June.