When it comes to travel, more than half of Millennials and Gen Xers cite cost as the main barrier to taking a trip. But while you can save your pennies to afford a vacation, other barriers are harder to overcome. Still, a significant one was broken on a recent Delta Airlines flight, when a duo of African-American female pilots became the first to comprise the cockpit crew on one of the carrier’s mainline trips.
At the tail-end of February, Capt. Stephanie Johnson and First Officer Dawn Cook flew Flight 555 from Detroit to Las Vegas. For Johnson, it wasn’t her first time making history. She recently became Delta’s first African-American female captain, but she also broke the glass ceiling back in 1997 when she became the first Black female pilot for Northwest Airlines. Johnson has been a commercial airline pilot for over 20 years.
In an interview on the Delta Airlines website, Johnson stated, “There were no pilots in my life growing up, and I think I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college. But for as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with airplanes and would think, ‘What a great thing it would be to know how to fly.’”
When Johnson was first hired by Northwest, there were only 12 African-American female pilots in the United States. Now, she feels a great sense of responsibility and strives to be a positive role model for young girls.
Although she notes that much has changed since that time, there are still too few women in the field — and there are still barriers to be broken. Co-pilot Dawn Cook posted a commemorative photo of the pair to Facebook when they landed in Sin City. Delta Airlines has also featured the historic event on their website.
While this is a first in Delta’s 90-year history, it’s sure to pave the way for more women and minorities being recognized for their contributions.