Amanda J. Harrison is an adventure and commercial pilot, cancer survivor, and public speaker based in England. As if it wasn’t a big enough challenge to find success in the male-dominated aviation industry, Amanda faced another serious obstacle in her journey of becoming a pilot—dyslexia.

In this captivating discussion, Amanda talks about her battle with breast cancer, her harrowing journey to fly the same path as the late pioneering pilot Amy Johnson, the unconditional support from her parents, and the impact dyslexia had on her journey to becoming a pilot. 

Amanda’s relentless determination to make a career out of her passion for flight and her incredibly inspiring attitude when met with the many challenges she’s had to overcome on her quest make this an episode that we’re so very proud of, and we can’t wait to share her story with you!

The Adventure Begins

Pilot. Adventure Enthusiast. Cancer Survivor. Dyslexic Champion. Amanda Harrison’s incredible journey and passion for life is truly inspiring. 

She traces her love for flying back to her childhood, when her father’s fascination with remote-control models sparked her interest. Her first flight at 14 ignited a feeling of absolute freedom that still resonates deeply within her.

Amanda knew flying was her true calling after that first flight. With unwavering determination, she set her sights on acquiring her private pilot’s license, determined to pursue her dreams as soon as circumstances allowed.

Navigating Dyslexia

Before becoming a pilot, Amanda encountered a stumbling block. Dyslexia. 

Amanda candidly shares her early experiences in school, vividly recounting the frustration of being unable to see certain letters and words. A poignant moment during a spelling test, where she couldn’t copy the word “sausages,” became a turning point that led to a diagnosis of dyslexia. Amanda’s journey took a positive turn as she found ways to adapt her learning methods. She expresses gratitude for her supportive teachers, parents, and the specialized programs to which she had access—all of which were instrumental in learning how to manage her dyslexia.

While she has adapted and learned how to navigate her dyslexia, Amanda details the ongoing challenges she faces. From using yellow screens to combat moving words while reading manuals to employing sunglasses and printed materials on colored paper, she’s devised ingenious ways to navigate her work environment. Despite the hurdles, Amanda emphasizes how her dyslexia-driven thinking, visual orientation, and knack for picturing information serve her remarkably well in piloting—an apt illustration of how her brain’s unique wiring complements her profession.

The resilience and resourcefulness individuals like Amanda bring to their fields showcase how embracing differences can lead to remarkable success.

A Dream Career

Amanda’s zest for exploration and her love for flying intertwine in a career that’s as thrilling as it is unpredictable. Her career as a commercial pilot through the ever-evolving aviation landscape was quite the journey. Significant global events such as 9/11 and economic recessions coincided with pivotal moments in her pilot training journey, and have become important chapters in her story.

In addition to commercial flying, Amanda has had exhilarating experiences in jet charter flying, transporting high-profile individuals to various glamorous destinations worldwide. The excitement in her voice is palpable as she reminisces about jet-setting to places like Norway, Tenerife, and Romania. What sets this role apart is the chance to immerse herself in these locations for a few days, unlike the routine of an airline pilot. Amanda cherishes these opportunities to explore and indulge her adventurous spirit.

Celebrity Clients 

One benefit of flying charter flights is meeting influential celebrities. In a fascinating peek into the world of flying high-profile individuals, Amanda highlights the charm and warmth found beneath the celebrity aura once you break through the barriers set by their surroundings. With a hint of playful secrecy, she jokes about having “fun stories” she couldn’t share without extreme consequences. However, she delightfully divulges encounters with high-profile figures like Kate Moss, highlighting the contrast between their stunning appearance at all hours and their down-to-earth personalities.

Amanda shares anecdotes about celebrities being surprisingly pleasant, while their entourage sometimes makes extravagant demands. She recalls flying lesser-known members of royalty and how they were genuinely friendly and remembered the pilots’ names, emphasizing that it’s often the people surrounding the celebrities who make elaborate requests rather than the celebrities themselves.

Behind the glitz and glamor, celebrities are often down-to-earth individuals, eager for simplicity and genuine connections like everyone else. 

Job Perks

As a pilot, Amanda has flown to incredible destinations. She recalls an enchanting journey to Norway to witness the northern lights, a destination she admits she might not have explored personally due to its high expense. Unfortunately, she and her passengers missed the auroras due to cloudy weather throughout their stay.

Despite the disappointment of not seeing the northern lights, Amanda raves about the wonderful people she encountered, describing them as warm and welcoming. She describes Norway as a fascinating blend of modernity and ancient traditions. The experience wasn’t just about the sights; it was about immersing oneself in the culture, exploring museums with old sledges, and indulging in local cuisine, which often included surprising ingredients like pine cones. 

Amanda’s job as a pilot has opened doors to incredible experiences she never would have imagined. It’s a testament to the enriching and adventurous side of her profession that allows her to explore diverse cultures and indulge her passion for discovering new foods and traditions, making each journey an unforgettable adventure.

Inspired by History

More than just a job, Amanda’s career has afforded her the opportunity to immerse herself in her passions on a personal level. Fascinated with historic aviators like Lady Mildred Bruce, Lady Mary Heath, and Sir Alex Henshaw, Amanda embarked on an ambitious journey as she planned her historic flight from the UK to Australia—almost 10,000 miles in a vintage Tiger Moth airplane! It all began with a chance flight in a Tiger Moth aircraft that sparked her passion for its history and the incredible journeys accomplished by aviators in the 1920s and 1930s.

Amanda was inspired by Amy Johnson, a determined woman from a middle-class background who became the first woman to fly from the UK to Australia. Her story and message resonated with Amanda, and she adopted Amy’s mantra, “If I can, you can,” as a guiding principle for her own aspirations.

After acquiring her Tiger Moth in 2015, Amanda encountered setbacks, including significant refurbishments and battling breast cancer while coping with personal loss. Despite the hurdles, she embarked on her journey in May 2019, retracing part of Amy Johnson’s route.

Her flight took her through Europe to Beirut, Lebanon, where she encountered geopolitical challenges, forcing her to reevaluate her route due to safety concerns in Iranian waters. This decision became pivotal when a drone was shot down in the area she would have flown through, underscoring the importance of the security advice she received.

Despite not completing her intended route, Amanda reflects on the extraordinary experiences and connections she made along the way. She recounts the warmth and hospitality she received in Beirut, describing a city with a profound appreciation for life despite its history of conflict—a place where people embraced her with open arms, treated her to incredible cultural experiences, and delightful cuisine.

Amanda’s storytelling not only paints a vivid picture of her adventure but also highlights the unpredictability and challenges inherent in pursuing ambitious dreams. Her resilience, courage, and adaptability shine through in the face of unexpected obstacles, leaving a lasting impression of her tenacity and the remarkable human connections she encountered during her memorable journey.

The 1942 Tiger Moth

Christina and Amanda explore the unique features of Amanda’s vintage airplane, reminiscent of Snoopy and the Red Baron’s era. Amanda’s Tiger Moth, built in 1942, is an 81-year-old biplane with a small cockpit and an open design that exposes the pilot to the elements.

The manual flying experience is unique—Amanda emphasizes how these character airplanes demand constant attention and hand control. The lack of an autopilot means Amanda is hands-on throughout the flight, maneuvering the aircraft using a stick that directly operates the plane’s wires. The airplane reacts instantly to the pilot’s movements, making every adjustment a deliberate and engaging experience.

Flying in an open cockpit has its quirks. Amanda shares anecdotes about handling charts and personal items while ensuring they don’t fly away in the airstream. She humorously recounts her strategy for securing items and the challenges of sitting on a life raft, an uncomfortable but necessary seat during her adventure.

Fuel capacity is a significant consideration for such flights, with Amanda having a limit of seven and a half hours. She details her five-hour flight over the Mediterranean and an engine failure upon her return to Rhodes, which led to a decision to ship the airplane back. Interestingly, a volcanic eruption in Italy, along her intended route, occurred shortly after, making her reflect on what seemed like divine intervention or her late father watching over her.

The initials “RVH” are inscribed on her plane, symbolizing her father’s presence during her journey.

Although she encountered many challenges when flying her vintage aircraft, the charm and core memories she made will stay with her forever.

More Adventures on the Horizon

That experience wasn’t the last historic flight Amanda wants to tackle. She also hopes to complete a solo flight to Darwin. She plans to overhaul and refurbish the plane during the winter, gearing up for a bigger and better journey ahead. Additionally, Amanda continues to find inspiration in female aviators like Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson, and she would like to replicate one of Amelia Earhart’s flights across America.

Women in Flight

Inspired by female aviators who have come before her, Amanda is committed to encouraging the next generation of women to pursue aviation. She sees herself as a testament to perseverance and determination, emphasizing that if she can overcome challenges with persistence and hard work, others can too. 

Currently, there is a notable imbalance of female pilots to male pilots. As of 2022, women made up only 5% of commercial airline pilots—and that number is even less in other sectors like military and corporate aviation. Amanda is on a mission to boost those numbers and encourage more women to take to the skies. 

Women bring a unique perspective and often exhibit safer piloting records. They also have strong multitasking abilities and empathy, traits that align well with the skill set required for piloting. 

Amanda stresses the need to encourage more women in aviation. She is determined to encourage more women to join and support this niche area of aviation, aiming to diversify and enrich the field.

Setting Sights on the Future: Amanda’s Aspirations and Inspirations

Amanda’s journey from dream to reality is truly inspiring. Her story resonates not just with aspiring female aviators but also with those managing dyslexia. Looking ahead, Amanda envisions completing further historic flights, aspiring to circumnavigate the globe and pilot a Spitfire. However, her most profound ambition lies in inspiring more women to take flight in the aviation world. Her tale exemplifies resilience and determination, offering a beacon of encouragement for all dreamers and trailblazers.

See her full episode here:

Join our community at

See all of our podcasts at

Listen on your favorite platform and make sure to subscribe.



Watch and subscribe on YouTube

And if you love it, please leave a review!