Aeroclass instructor Deborah Lawrie: From a dedicated 16-year-old to an expert in safety

Instructors · 2 min read · Jan 05, 2023
deborah lawrie

Aviation came into Deborah Lawrie’s life quite by accident and she rushes to assure there is no pun intended. After her father started taking flying lessons and began learning piloting theory and checklists, Deborah too got acquainted with the field. She immediately felt drawn to aviation.

Deborah recalls a time when, on one of their regular trips to the airport for her father’s lessons, she was allowed to sit in the backseat of an aircraft. Even though it was not strictly legal, this moment was extremely impactful, and Deborah got hooked on flying immediately.

After turning 16, Deborah had to figure out a way to keep pursuing her passion for flying on her own. That is exactly what she did, by taking up odd jobs she was able to pay for one flying lesson a month. In hindsight, Deborah sees that her unwavering dedication to learning how to fly was definitely driven by her desire to prove to her father that she could indeed achieve this on her own.

However, once she got to experience a solo flight, her passion for flying became solely her own. The feeling of operating an aircraft was so profound that she could not just leave it there. Deborah had to keep learning and improving. She went on to get her commercial license, instructor’s rating and further moved up in the path of aviation.

An aircraft wheel in center view.

Having spent more than 50 years in the aviation industry and more than 20 of those years in the safety sector, Deborah is an expert in aviation safety investigations. Her storied career marks many notable achievements, but when asked to mention the most interesting assignment she has had, she does not hesitate. Deborah fondly remembers her time working on aligning the Latvian safety investigation process with the EU.

The job presented an interesting challenge because the Latvian trainees had different views on the weight of the risk of various incidents. This experience highlighted massive discrepancies in the perception of events within different cultures. Deborah sees this assignment as a defining moment in her career since she experienced what it was like to show people a different perspective on safety measures.

Deborah’s teaching career spans decades because as she was studying aviation, she simultaneously was learning to be a secondary school teacher. Deborah admits that becoming a teacher ‘was the career path I was going to go down’, explaining that her ‘career in aviation wasn’t guaranteed’. At one point in time, before she became a full-time flying instructor, Lawrie would work 7 days a week, teaching children math and physics during the week and being a flying instructor on the weekend. As Deborah herself put it, teaching has always been ‘in her veins’.

Deborah Lawrie’s video course for Aeroclass is, therefore, a seamless continuation and evolution of her previous work. Deborah views her experience teaching virtually as an interesting journey, noting the importance of being more precise in virtual classes, and anticipating what people may or may not understand. But, having adapted to the medium, she sees it as a wonderful opportunity, which gives a chance for a wide variety of people to learn.

Deborah teaches a course on aviation safety investigation. She discusses her course and other experiences of her career in more detail in our Expert Talk. Don’t pass up on the opportunity to hear from the best in the safety sector.

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Jet pilot @NASA

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