real life

This 16 year old is Australia's youngest pilot. Thanks to 20,000 cupcakes.

Thanks to our brand partner, Barbie

Jade Esler knows more than most about a sugar high.

The 16-year-old achieved her dream this week, becoming Australia’s youngest pilot, and she got there by baking and selling around 20,000 cupcakes.

The Canberra teenager passed the practical pilot’s license test this week on her 16th birthday – the youngest possible age – meaning she can now fly solo anywhere within 25 nautical miles of an aerodrome.

And it was all self-funded through her cupcake business.

“It was pretty awesome,” she said.

Jade is this week’s Kick Arse Woman Doing Kick Arse Things Of Kickarsery. Listen here: 

The 16-year-old has, for the last three years, sold thousands of cupcakes through her business, The Sugar Bite.

It took a lot of salted caramel, fairy floss, and chocolate sundae cakes, but the passionate baker says her parents were on hand to help out.

“My parents work pretty hard….if I have lots of school work, they’ll get the baking done for me. I’ll come out and ice them and then go back to it.” she says.

The Canberra high school student says she’s always wanted to be a pilot. Growing up, her father had his private pilot’s license, and as a baby, Jade’s car seat was moved into the plane.

“I just remember going up, sitting in the back in my car seat, falling asleep and being totally happy” she says.


The passionate aviator says since then, she’s been obsessed with flying. But at such a young age, she had to work hard to prove she could do it.

“Some people are like ‘Wait….you’re a pilot? Your dads not out flying somewhere, is he? You’re actually flying the plane?’ Sometimes people don’t see me leave, and I’ll just bring the plane in, flying solo, and I’ll come down and land and hop out of the plane, and they’ll be looking around like ‘is there someone else in there’?

A post shared by Jade Esler (@thesugarbite) on


With two younger brothers, the year ten student says she thinks she has the skills a pilot needs.

“You need to be able to think analytically, be able to solve problems quickly, be assertive and be quick to make decisions and be calm in stressful situations.

‘Whenever there are engine failures I’m like ‘it’s ok, we’ll be fine’.” she says.

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The teenager says yes, she has Top-Gun style aviators, only hers are pink. And in case you’re thinking it, they’re not just about fashion.

“It gets quite glary up there, and if you’re doing turns into the sun you need to have them” she says.

Eventually, Jade hopes to go into airlines as a commercial pilot, flying international across Europe.

But until then, she’s marked her 17th birthday to sit for her private pilot’s license, and her 18th birthday for the big one; the commercial license.

A post shared by Jade Esler (@thesugarbite) on


That year, her flying will coincide with year 12. And no doubt, countless more cupcakes to bake. But it’s a challenge she says she can rise to.

“I just completely believe that if you have a dream, and you have something to achieve, you need to go out and do it. It’s not just going to come to you. And there’s always a way to do it, you’ve just got to find it.” she says.

Mamamia Out Loud is the weekly podcast with what women are talking about. Subscribe in the Mamamia Podcast App, or listen here:

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Barbie