FOR Amina Mossavi flying an aeroplane means freedom.
"Being a pilot is my dream: it means freedom from fear and it's a symbol of equality between men and women," the Merrylands resident said.
The 18-year-old Hazara refugee, from Afghanistan, said she had dreamed about being a pilot since she was a young girl and saw planes with aid supplies in Afghanistan and later Pakistan.
"I'm not sure when it came into my mind, but I always thought it would be a good thing to do," she said.
"I want to show women in Afghanistan that they can do everything men can do."
She went on her first flying lesson on the weekend and said it was one of the best experiences in her life.
"I was a bit nervous in the beginning and I thought I might be scared, but I wasn't, I was really relaxed up there after a while," she said.
"It was unbelievable.
"I felt so happy and now I feel really confident about my future goal.
"I thought it would be hard to do, but now I know I can do it and I feel motivated."
She said she was happy to be living in Australia because she had many more opportunities here than she did in her homeland.
"I love to learn and I always think of the children back in my country who don't get these chances," she said.
"Life is all about discovery, not just about making money, and flying is the best way to discover the world."
The year 11 Chester Hill High School student said before arriving in Australia in 2010 she had learned how to read and write in English but had never spoken it.
Mosa Gherjestani, president of the Hazara Council of Australia — who also dreamed of being a pilot before he arrived in Australia from Afghanistan — funded Amina's first flight.
"I wanted to help her pursue her dream because no one helped me," Mr Gherjestani said.
He said it was important for him to show young Afghans that in Australia they can achieve anything if they work hard for it.
"In Afghanistan you have money or connections to achieve something, but it's not like that here," he said.