An aviation-loving kid posed by an airplane in 1999. Over 20 years later, she recreated the photo

When Gloria Fila was a kid, airplanes were a home away from home.

The daughter of an Austrian Airlines flight attendant and pilot who met on the job, Fila often tagged along on her parents’ work trips. There are photos of her playing happily while in an airplane seat. Some of her earliest memories involve planes, and from a very young age, she loved every minute of being up in the air.

When Fila’s father wasn’t flying commercial flights, he’d take his daughter on joy rides on private aircraft.

“He always took me with him,” recalls Fila. “And I always specifically asked to do some aerobatics with the airplane, because I loved it so much and it was the best thing ever.”

Childhood photo

There’s a photo of young Fila which she feels epitomizes her childhood love of aviation, taken in 1999, when she was just two, on vacation in the Maldives.

In the foreground is Fila, dressed in a blue check dress and tugging a bright yellow suitcase in the shape of children’s character Winnie in the Pooh. In the backdrop is an Airbus A340 jet.

The photo was taken shortly before Fila and her family boarded the airplane to return to their home city of Vienna, Austria.

“It’s one of our favorite family pictures,” says Fila.

Whenever Fila, now 26, reflects on her love of aviation, this photo comes to mind.

As she was so young on the Maldives vacation, she doesn’t remember the actual moment the picture was taken.

“But I do remember parts of this trip – because one of my parents was there on duty, so the other one was flying with me there,” says Fila. “I have really great memories of this trip, even though I was so small.”

When Fila graduated from college, she got a job working for a bank in Austria. She’d always wanted to work in aviation, but as she got older, she started wondering whether that was just a dream she’d inherited secondhand from her parents.

Fila decided it was of “great importance” to try and work in another arena first, to check, as she puts it. “Do I love aviation only because of my parents, or do I personally really love it as much as they do, too?”

“But after one and a half years, I said, ‘Okay, that’s it, I’m going to quit my office job. And I’m going to finally go for what I really love,’” recalls Fila. “And that was when I decided to become a flight attendant.”

Dream job

Fila qualified as an Austrian Airlines flight attendant in 2022. She loved the job right away. Working at 30,000 feet just felt right. Every day when she went to work, Fila felt lucky.

“Airplanes have been the most present thing in my life – and aviation overall. To this day, I really truly love it – that’s what really makes my job, for myself, very special,” says Fila.

She also loves meeting passengers from around the world, and likeminded crew members.

“We do not always fly with the same colleagues. So, we get mixed up and every time, actually, you meet new people. However, we’re all kind of recruited with the same passion,” says Fila.

Recreated photo

Whenever Fila boarded a white and red accented Austrian Airlines aircraft, she found herself thinking about that childhood photo.

Then, a few months into the job, Fila had an idea – she would recreate the photo, over 20 years later, with the help of her crewmates. At the end of a shift one day, Fila showed a photo of the photo, saved on her cell phone, to a couple of her colleagues and asked if they’d help her take a 2022 version.

This time round, Fila’s once again in the foreground, now proudly wearing her red Austrian Airlines uniform. Her suitcase is smart and dark-coloured, not shaped like a beloved childhood character. And in the background, the aircraft behind her is an A320, rather than an A340, parked at Vienna Airport.

Fila sent the recreated photo to her family, who loved it. Her parents – who Fila says are “super supportive” of her move into aviation – were particularly delighted with this recreation of one of their favorite photos of their daughter.

Fulfilling a dream

In the months that followed, Fila regularly showed the two photos – the original and the recreation – to other crew during downtime on flights. One time, she showed them to a flight attendant who happened to moonlight in the Austrian Airlines head office. This colleague loved the two pictures and asked if they could share the shots on the airline’s social media accounts.

“When you finally do or find what you really truly love – there’s no better feeling than this, in my opinion.”

Gloria Fila, flight attendant

Fila was more than happy to oblige. For her, the two pictures are very personal. But they also hold a more general, universal message – about the importance of staying in touch with your childhood self, and being brave enough to follow through with your childhood dreams, even when they feel out of reach.

“I would totally recommend the person to try it, to go for it, no matter what,” says Fila. “When you finally do or find what you really truly love – there’s no better feeling than this, in my opinion.”

Fila sees herself working in aviation for years to come, and would love to recreate the photo again in the future.

“That would be amazing,” she says.

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