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Emily Howell Warner: The First Female Captain of a Scheduled United States Airline

Born: October 30, 1939

Denver, CO

Began Flight Lessons: 1958

Hired by Frontier Airlines: 1973

Became the first female captain of a scheduled US Airline: 1978

When Emily Howell Warner was 17 years old, she took her first ride on an airplane. Her and her family were taking a trip to Gunnison, Colorado. Taking her first few steps on the plane, she was immediately captivated. On the return flight to Denver, she asked the pilot to see the cockpit of the plane. One of the pilots suggested if she was interested in flying, she should look into taking lessons. From then on she was hooked.

Emily first began taking flight lessons 1958 when she was 19 years old. Financially, Emily struggled to pay for her lessons. With only a $38 weekly paycheck, Emily worked hard everyday day in order to pay off her lessons. She worked 14 hour days and would take her flight lessons early in the morning and late in the evening. After obtaining her private pilot licence, she accepted a job from the Clinton Aviation Company out of Denver, CO.

Over the next 15 years, Emily continued her training and earned her instrument, multiengine, and commercial ratings. She became the chief pilot and flight school manager at Stapleton Airport. Emily had accumulated over 7,000 hours of flight hours, and even became the first woman to be designated as a FAA pilot examiner.

In the late 60’s, Emily began to apply to the airlines for a pilot’s position, to no avail. The airline industry, being almost completely male, had no interest in hiring any women as an airline pilot. This was extremely disheartening to Emily, especially since young men with half of her experience were getting hired by airlines left and right. Despite this, she persisted and continued to reapply for these positions. Finally in 1973, her dream had come true.

In 1973 Emily Howell Warner was hired by Frontier Airlines. This would make her the first woman pilot to be hired by a U.S. airline. Five years later Emily became the first female captain of a scheduled airline, flying a Twin Otter. Over her career Emily shattered glass barriers and opened the doors for so many women in the airline industry.

Some of her other major accomplishments include:

-First woman member of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), 1974

-Commanded the first all women flight crew, 1986

-Inducted into the Women In Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, 1992

-Inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, 2014

After a 42 year career in aviation and retiring in 2002, Emily captured 21,000 hours of flying. To this day, Emily continues to inspire and motivate women and young people around the world.




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