Women in the Aviation Industry
The coincidence of the International Women’s Day and the Women in Aviation Conference occurring within days of each other highlighted the importance of the history of women in the aviation industry. Their struggle to find careers in this industry are captured poetically by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. in his “High Flight” by analogizing gravity with the resistance to their entry into the male dominated business-
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Though there are notable events occurring a century ago (see the WiA Some Notable Women in Aviation History remarkable reference source), the height and volume of their achievements, against such odds, are only beginning to move toward equality. For example, and Carol Hallett was selected as the first CEO of ATA in 1995 and the Honorable Jane F. Garvey became the first woman FAA Administrator in 1997. That’s not a record in which this industry should take pride; so here are some achievements worth noting (in no particular order):
→ Phoebe Jane Fairgrave Omlie—was the first female to receive an airplane mechanic’s license, the first licensed female transport pilot, and the first female to be appointed to a federal position in the aviation field.
→ Susan Mashibe is founder and executive director of VIA Aviation, an international fixed-base aircraft services operation and the first company of its kind in Tanzania. Susan is also the first woman in Tanzania to hold both a FAA certified commercial pilot and an aircraft maintenance engineering qualification.
→ All-female flight crew inspires new generation of women pilots—on one San Francisco-to-Maui United Airlines flight, the pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and even some of the ground crew were all women—a rare occurrence in the male-dominated world of aviation.
→ Zimbabwe Makes Aviation History With Its First All-Female Flight Deck—Air Zimbabwe flight between the national capital of Harare and beloved attraction Victoria Falls made aviation history by being the first-ever flight in Zimbabwe to have an all-female flight deck crew.
→ AA Female Pilots Make History—starting with 1973 – American Airlines is the first major airline to hire a female pilot – Bonnie Tiburzi.
These pioneers have established that they are able to perform at the highest levels of safety in the most demanding operational environment. The future contributions of women in aviation should show no bounds.Share this article: