Emily Howell Warner
Emily Howell Warner, first female captain of a U.S. commercial airline. She is also the first woman member of the largest pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, and was the leader of the first all-female Continental Airlines flight crew.
As a teenager, Warner realized that college would not be possible financially, and considered becoming an airline stewardess. She had never before been on a plane, and on her first flight shortly thereafter her curiosity got her invited to see the cockpit.
“I looked out that front window and it just hit me. It’s so beautiful looking out of the front window instead of looking out of the sides.” A pilot who noted her excitement suggested she should enroll in flight lessons. “To which I said, ‘Gee, can a girl take flying lessons?’”
By 21, she had become a flight instructor full-time and noticed that male instructors were being hired as commercial pilots. For the next six years, she applied for jobs, among them to Frontier, United, and Continental, before Frontier finally invited her for an interview, and ultimately extended a job offer, in 1973. That same day, the airline hired their first black commercial pilot, a former Tuskegee Airman named Robert Ashby.
Interview and photograph via The Denver Post