THE TRAILBLAZING GLIDER PILOT WHOSE ADVENTURES TAKE HER SKY HIGH
If gliding the skies solo isn't enough of an inspiration to pursue your dreams, Julia Steinle is also incredibly talented at photographing the stunning views she witnesses on her adventures. From exceeding as a pilot in a field dominated by men to turning her passion into a skill, Julia is the definition of a trailblazer and role model. In our conversation with her we learn about her intoroduction to the sport, her advice to other dreamers, her favourite planes to pilot and her bucket list destinations to fly over
Have you ever dreamt of flying; of experiencing the pure joy that comes with the sensation of complete freedom and gaining control when you simply just let go? Trailblazing her path in the skies, Julia Steinle has been an inspiration to our editorial team for the past several years as we stumbled upon her adventure on social media and haven't been able to take our eyes off her journey since! If you have ever done any kind of soul-searching, you need not look further for someone to inspire you to conquer your doubts and to follow your dreams. Julia truly embodies a balance of doing what she loves while paving the way for others to follow.
Julia fell in love with gliding at the age of 14 when she was first introduced to sport. To this day she keeps evolving at capturing stunning photographs while gracing the skies with style and sharing her experiences with her followers. From collecting memories of the incredible views over the Alps and South Africa to sharing insights of her life around gliders and planes, Julia combines her love for flying with her passion for photography in the most awe-inspiring way. Not only is she a skilled pilot in a field dominated by men, but her positive energy and love for flying comes as a breath of fresh air in our search for trailblazers, who break down boundaries and follow their dreams.
From gaining insights on the people she looks up to to, to learning more about the stunning places she's glided over, we caught up with Julia to ask her about her journey as a pilot and a photographer. We learn more about what inspires her and what advice she has to give about following your wanderlust.
‘‘There is nothing quite like the feeling of being thousands of feet above the ground, with nothing but the sound of the wind rushing past you. No engine. Just carried by the sheer power of nature.’’
Julia Steinle, trailblazing pilot & photographer for NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine
NOMADSofORIGIN: What sparked your passion for piloting?
Julia: My passion for piloting was sparked by a combination of two things. Creativity and the hunger for Adventure. Firstly, I have always been fascinated by the idea of being up in the sky since my dad took me on my first flights as a little girl. Additionally, I grew up with a passion for photography and would look for unique views to capture, which made me even more interested in aviation. Finally, when I was 14, I took the opportunity to try gliding and fell in love with the sport. Now, 9 years later I find myself fulfilling a childhood dream, roaming the sky in a plane with and without a propeller.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What are some of the best places you have flown over?
Julia: Many people still believe that with a glider you mainly stay near the airfield. But the opposite is the case, glider pilots can stay up to more than 10hours and over 1000km in one flight. I have been fortunate enough to fly over many incredible places, but some of my favorite flights include the Alps with a lowpass over the highest mountain of Europe: the Mont Blanc. The Spanish Guaderrama, and the South African ridges and desert and even Israel. Each location offers a unique and breathtaking view from the sky, gaining new perspectives on the togetherness of mankind and nature.
NOMADSofORIGIN: How do you stay passionate about piloting and how is it different when it's a career as opposed to just a hobby?
Julia: To stay passionate about piloting, I try to constantly challenge myself and learn new things. When flying is your career, it can be easy to get caught up in the routine of it all, so I try to mix things up by taking on different photographic challenges and motives or flying to new destinations. The main difference between piloting as a career or on competitions and as a hobby is that the routes can be decided freely rather than following a given course. To me this aspect is crucial for the feeling of freedom.
In the recent years gliding became to a profession next to my full-time job and now I sometimes feel pressured to perform at a high level consistently regarding flights and my content. However, I still approach flying with the same enthusiasm and love for the sport that I did when I was still a student pilot.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You are a true trailblazer in your field and your lead inspires so many others to follow their passion. What advice would you give others, especially women, who are considering going into piloting?
Julia: This credo is what I followed ever since I joined the aviation world: Work hard, be confident, and never give up on your dreams. It’s worth it in the end. My advice to others, especially women, who are considering going into piloting is to not let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Piloting is a male-dominated field, which is only changing slowly. If you are passionate about flying, then pursue it with everything you have. Like-minded people and supportive friends will join the journey in the long run.
NOMADSofORIGIN: The closest thing that comes to freedom is probably flying, but the way you do it, solo and piloting gliders, is even more incredible and impressive. What is your favourite thing about being up in the sky?
Julia: My favorite thing about being up in the sky is the sense of freedom and peace that comes with it. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being thousands of feet above the ground, with nothing but the sound of the wind rushing past you. No engine. Just carried by the sheer power of nature.
Additionally, flying solo in a glider is an incredibly empowering experience. Every second you must analyze the situation and decide about speed, heading, tactics etc. This requires a lot of skill and focus, and there is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering the art of gliding.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Who are your heroes and people you most look up to?
Julia: My heroes are the pilots who have paved the way for me in both, the field of aviation and my career. Especially my grandfather had a big impact on me as well as my flight instructor Thomas Gemmel.
To name a few iconic glider pilots of our time I look up to my fellow aviators and mentors like Frerk Frommholz, Klaus Ohlmann, Yves Gerster who are breaking down barriers and proving that truly the only limit is your imagination. Not to forget about the aesthetic and artistic scene, where I draw inspiration from photographers and designers.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What is it like to be a woman in the field of piloting, which appears to be male dominated?
Julia: Being a woman in the field of piloting can be challenging at times, as it is still male-dominated. I have equally encountered obstacles because of my gender as I have been supported. However, I have found that most of my male colleagues are supportive and welcoming. I do hear from my community that there is still work to be done to encourage more women to pursue careers in aviation, but I am hopeful that the sport is moving in the right direction.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You have piloted different types of planes and gliders. Which models are your favourite to fly?
Julia: My favorite planes to fly are gliders, as they offer a unique and thrilling flying experience. Those who followed my journey know about the love that went into restoring and flying my former Ls4. For bigger “AIRdventures” I now like to choose a Sailplanes with an engine to ensure maximum flexibility.
Next to gliding I can also recommend flying smaller planes with engine, such as Micro lights as they are more maneuverable and allow for more hands-on flying in terrain that otherwise would stay hidden for a glider pilot.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What destinations on your bucket list are you most excited to visit and fly over?
Julia: Trying to find new perspectives I would like to explore unique destinations on my bucket list that I am excited to visit and fly over. Most glider pilots are dreaming about flying in the Namibian Desert, Australia or New Zealand. Some of the top locations on my personal bucket list include Japan, the Philippines, Patagonia, and the Norwegian fjords. Each location offers its own set of challenges and rewards, and I can't wait to explore them all from the sky.
Follow @juliet.sierra on social media.
NOMADSofORIGIN x Julia Steinle
This interview appears in NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine print #06 The Trailblazers Issue
NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.
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