Reaching for the skies

Published on 23 November 2021

Emma McDonald’s career aspirations have always been sky high.

Operations Manager at Matt Hall Racing, based out of Lake Macquarie Airport, McDonald comes from a family of aviators and was in the air alongside dad before she could walk.

“I can’t actually remember my first time in a plane as it was always just the norm for me, just like my first time in a car,” says Emma.

“There is a story that my mum was pregnant with me and my dad took her up to practice one of his aerobatic routines for competition, so you could say I’ve been flying since before I was born.”

Emma McDonald.jpg

Today, Emma pilots flights over Lake Macquarie and has her sights set on becoming an Air Race pilot, just like her boss Matt Hall, a former Red Bull Air Race Champion.

A diesel fitter by trade, Emma has never been one to let others’ expectations stand in the way of her dreams.

“I have encountered many people throughout my life who’ve said I’m never going to make it or ‘you’ll never be good enough’ or simply, ‘there’s no place here for a girl’.

“All can say is don’t ever take no for an answer. When people say you can’t achieve something, take it as a challenge to provide them wrong. I worked hard, kept my eye on the prize and never let anyone tear me down.”

Emma is currently in the UK pursuing the next step on her path to becoming an Air Race pilot, having just completed her first training camp for the new series. Selected as one of eight participants out of 47 applicants from across the globe, Emma will take part in her second training camp in Spain next year, where she’ll vie for a place on an Air Race team.

Keep an eye out for Emma in the skies over Lake Mac and on the global stage.  


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