Celebrating Women’s History Month: Famous Firsts

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Famous Firsts

Ellen Church

Ellen was a registered pilot and nurse, but wasn't granted the ability to fly. In 1930, upon her suggestion, the manager of the San Francisco office of Boeing Air Transport hired her as the head stewardess, a nurse to be on board the airplane to calm the public's fear of flying. The innovation of Flight Attendants on board to care for the passengers was a huge success starting with Ellen. We celebrate Ellen's initiative to help women join the aviation industry.

Ruth Carol Taylor

On February 11, 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor worked her first flight at Mohawk Airlines. She was the first African-American Flight Attendant in the United States. Only six months after breaking one historic barrier, Taylor's career ended due to another discriminatory policy: the airline's marriage ban, a common practice among airlines of the day of dismissing Flight Attendants who became either married or pregnant. 

Emily (Hanrahan) Howell Warner

Emily (Hanrahan) Howell Warner became the first American woman to become a captain for a scheduled U.S. airline and the first female pilot ALPA member, joining the Association in 1974. During her 42-year career, Warner flew for Frontier, Continental Airlines, and UPS and later became an FAA safety inspector and the B-737 aircrew program manager for United Airlines. In doing so, she accumulated more than 21,000 flying hours.

First all-female Flight Crew

In 1986, a team of American Airlines pilots and Flight Attendants made history by operating the first U.S. flight to be crewed by an all-female team. The flight departed from Miami International Airport (MIA) and flew to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

First all-black, all female flight crew

On Feb 12, 2009, the first ever all female, all African-American flight crew operated from Atlanta to Nashville on Atlantic Southeast Airlines. Captain Rachelle Jones Kerr, First Officer Stephanie Grant and Flight Attendants Robin Rogers and Diana Galloway made history on the flight that happened by chance.

The original first officer became sick, so First Officer Grant stepped in. Grant told the press what it was like to step in the cockpit and see Captain Kerr. “The fact that it was Rachelle, an African-American female, and we just met in passing a couple weeks prior… It was amazing,” Grant said. Kerr said, “We just looked at each other and grinned, because I think in that moment. we knew.”

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