Beating isolation: Belmont mum starts Sky Families to support families of pilots


Erica May with Milla (4) and Jack (6). Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d472303
Erica May with Milla (4) and Jack (6). Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d472303

A BELMONT mother has taken to social media to help the partners of pilots who often struggle with isolation.

Erica May, a mother of two and the partner of a commercial airline pilot, has negotiated the aviation life for almost 10 years .

She started the Sky Families website to support and connect families of pilots.

“The lifestyle is one that comes with a unique set of challenges and if you’re not equipped to deal with these challenges, the lifestyle can be quite overwhelming, in particular for the partner of the pilot,” she said.

“You have to be flexible, resilient and independent. You’re going to go to a lot of stuff alone – you’re going to go to weddings alone.

“I was seeing a lot of people struggling and it’s not always easy, but I think there are ways to make it easier.”

Ms May said she wanted to bring the families of pilots together.

“I want to bring people together in person where I can in Perth, then extend that to other areas,” she said.

“But I also want to bring everything together online. My goal is for it to be a resource where they can go for information and advice.”

There is often little pattern to pilot rosters and with children in the mix, the erratic schedules are even more difficult to juggle.

“For me, it was certainly trying to go back to work after having children… I worked business hours but if you’ve got a nurse on night shift and a pilot on call, you might need childcare at three o’clock in the morning. But you might need it, you don’t even know for sure,” she said.

“Usually one person ends up giving up their career and it’s usually the partner.”

Ms May ended up on the same path as many other pilot partners, starting her own business – she has a black belt and is teaching freestyle martial arts to children at MMA 24/7 in Belmont.

Along with providing information and resources for pilot families, Sky Families promotes the businesses of the partners on the ground.

“So many of us end up starting our own businesses because we need that flexibility, so part of supporting partners of pilots is promoting what they do to others,” Ms May said.

Belmont MLA Cassie Rowe is a big supporter of the Sky Families project.

“We know that a parent working away on a regular roster can put extra pressure on families,” she said.

“It’s great to see a local initiative working to provide essential support and connect families who experience these unique challenges.”

Sky Families will hold a get-together on Sunday, August 13.

For more information visit skyfamilies.com.