The local media gave it ample well-deserved coverage as Marrit Gorter, 44, landed her first plane, Aruba Airlines AG902, coming from Havana Cuba, at Reina Beatrix Airport as the first female Aruban pilot.
It was the fullfilment of an interrupted dream, and a very unique phenomenon against our island backdrop, where careers ordinarily take off at age 20, and only a few dare change their professional direction, thereafter.
I remember Marrit as a Windsurfing queen, a fearless, athletic tomboy of a girl shredding the waters off Fishermen’s Huts, in a mini bikini. She was flying, on a board with a sail.
The way she tells it, as a ten-year-old student, she gave a presentation in the local school regarding space and space travel. She was passionate about the subject and decided to become an astronaut, an extraordinary professional choice in view of the fact that she was born on an island. That later evolved into piloting fighter planes, but meanwhile she dedicated most of her time to windsurfing.
When she finished high-school in Aruba she pursued an academic business education, in the Netherland which did not light her on fire, but going to flight school in the USA did.
Love interfered in her well designed plans. A man came along and snatched her away from school and from Aruba, and life unfolded quite predictably, with kids coming along and adult life.
About five years ago, Marrit recounts she was at Schiphol airport with her two teenage girls, taking a transcontinental flight when a 100% female crew rushed by her, Captain, First Officer, Cabin Crew, not a man in sight, and as she couldn’t believe it, she questioned one of the flight attendants who confirmed. Yes, girls rule.
Marrit got an idea in her head that wouldn’t let go.
The next four years she dedicated to accumulating flying time and certifications, then she showed up for interviews and trainings, and waited for Aruba Airlines to have a pilot job-opening for its Airbus A320-200 aircraft.
That day recently came. Marrit’s husband, also a pilot for Aruba Airlines, videoed her flawless landing here, and you can hear him hooting in the background, proud of the woman that could.
Beautiful, charismatic, and passionate about flying, she followed her dream.