Video: Alaska Airlines Flight Piloted By Two Female African Americans For The First Time

Filed Under: Alaska

For International Women’s Day we sometimes see airlines promote how they have female pilots, and staff certain flights exclusively with females. Some day we’ll hopefully live in an era where having an all-female cockpit crew isn’t noteworthy, though for now only somewhere around 5% of airline pilots worldwide are female. One of my favorite such stories had to be from 2016, when Royal Brunei had a three-person female cockpit crew land a plane in Saudi Arabia of all places, where the women wouldn’t have been allowed to drive.

This past Sunday two Alaska Airlines pilots created a “first” for the company. Specifically, for the first time in the company’s history, Alaska Airlines had two female African American pilots in the cockpit. That’s pretty cool. The captain, Tara Dillon Wright, made an announcement informing people about the special flight they were on, which just happened to be on Mother’s Day, and also on her dad’s 80th birthday (though he was in Spain).

Here’s a video of her pre-departure announcement, which has over 800,000 views in the past few days as of the time of this posting:

Making Alaska Airlines history this morning! First Officer Mallory Cave and I serve as the very first all African-American female crew on Alaska Flt #361, San Francisco to Portland, OR. 👩🏽‍✈️👩🏽‍✈️

Posted by Tara Dillon Wright on Sunday, May 13, 2018

Well done, ladies! I’m a bit surprised that this is the first time in the company’s history that this has happened, though better late than never. I suspect most other major airlines have already had this happen.

(Tip of the hat to Andrew B)

  1. According to the book Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith, when he wrote it (2013) there but fourteen female African American pilots working for commercial airlines in the US. Even if they number doubled since then, this probably isn’t something that happens very often.

  2. You’re surprised this is the first time in the company’s history? I’m would be surprised if this is the first time in the states, period. Don’t quote me but as many planes fly everyday, AA women probably compose less than 1% of pilots. This is way bigger than just Alaska Airlines!

  3. Why an all female crew lucky ? Is it SO bad if there’s a male or 2 sprinkled in ? You got #feminisimbackwards

  4. they checked off multiple boxes for a few years. Jesse Jackson go shakedown some other loser.

  5. Why is this even headlines today ? Or are the airlines now forced to load crew schedules according to political correctness? As former AF I don’t give a damn who is flying other than their personal proficiency but maybe I just care about having the same number of landings as takeoffs ( Old Air Force saying )

  6. where is the ethnic diversity of this blog? many people think in dimension but not others…

  7. Yeah…where is the ethnic diversity on this blog? I think you should open up applications again, hire me & add some ethnic diversity, and appeal to another demographic. Just think…what other blog has that representation? You’d be the first!!

  8. How about the first Inuit or First Nations cockpit crew? Or the first Chinese-American cockpit crew? Or the first Mexican-American cockpit crew?

    I have been on an entirely female cockpit and cabin crew (pilots and FA). I have also been on a father son cockpit crew on AS.

  9. how about the first redhead? or first transgender?
    who really cares as long as they are competent and not there because of an urgent need to have some politically correct box checked

  10. Why is this news? You defeat the very point you may be trying to make by highlighting this as a special event. If treated as normal, it becomes just that. Perhaps fewer posts but quality? And of course, as always, postulate only on onformed topics. Leave the rest to The NY Times.

  11. Aww. Heartwarming to see all the limp, threatened (likely middle aged) white conservatives whine.

    I understand you have nothing in your life but resentment at this point, but maybe just take it over to whatever has replaced r/incel?


  13. Thank you for sharing this news, Lucky. I thought it was cool, and I was also safe in the knowledge that if I had not approved, I could have moved on without the need to question the existential merit of your blog.

  14. Wow. That’s pretty incredible, especially considering that not too long ago the help wanted section was separated into jobs for men and jobs for women section. Ok, actually it was really a long time ago.

  15. @Dr – You say “If treated as normal, it becomes just that.”

    Close, but not quite. This is more accurate: “Once it becomes something expected, it becomes normal.” For now, this is indeed remarkable, and because of that, many find reason to herald this milestone. It is highly likely that every single person on that plane would have noticed the black female flight crew had the captain simply said “I’m the pilot and on my left is our co-pilot,” and not pointed out gender or color.

    The fact is that black female pilots are underrepresented in the USA. That’s not political correctness, that’s not feminism, that’s not fake news. That is, simply, unemotional fact. (Aside from noting that facts in general are pretty unemotional things, as much as some people seem to be agitated by them.)

    For those asking about Inuit or Chinese or Mexican pilots, great questions all, but that’s not the subject of this post. However you can start your research with this link: While I can’t speak to the results of such a search, this should give you a good idea of how to find out for yourselves. Good luck!

  16. who cares? Really, must be desperate for “articles” other than credit card us BS. 2 black people flying a plane? Who cares? as long as they’re competent and ethical, who cares? Identity politics -& PC–a us nonsense thing

  17. Wow.
    So many of these comments are perfect for me to reference when I get asked by my friends from other countries how Trump got elected. The racism and white fragility of some of the readers here is remarkable! Kudos to you, Lucky, for continuing to post articles highlighting inclusion and diversity! Clearly, folks still need to be reminded of how far we have yet to go in the fight for equity in the United States…smh.

  18. A book published in the 1970s titled “She will never get off the ground” tells the extraordinary story of young Alaskan woman’s trials and tribulations as she went through the Boing 737 certification process with Alaskan Airlines, which was a vital part of the hiring/interview tasks. The all male pilots did everything in their power to make sure that ‘she never got off the ground’, and reading the book is a harrowing experience. Those ‘good old boy’s did everything in their power short of demolishing the plane, as they sat in the right hand seat during the certification ordeal. The book is probably out of date but well worth the search for the female pilot who opened the cockpit for others of her gender to follow.

  19. Ralph—good pts. the US was a corporation, not a real country. It was a business venture/opportunity.

    deToqueville and McDougall go into detail into this. If they are black, great–however, it is non-news in other real countries b/c the us is very infantile, fragile, and needs constant positive affirmations of ‘greatness’ and other delusional propaganda.

  20. I love how many people are saying “who cares”? You know who cares? African Americans, women, people of color, and every other minority that is under-represented in a profession dominated by white men. I agree that it’s likely not happened on any Airlines given the numbers. Only straight white men would be saying “who cares,” because they will never be able to understand what it is like being a minority in this country or feel unrepresented.

    So to answer all of your questions of who cares, basically most every non-white straight man cares, or should care. And I’m sure a lot of straight white men that are “woke” care as well.

    The ignorance is outstanding…

  21. In the 21st century, this should not even be worth mentioning. On the other hand, there is so much racism, bigotry and hypocrisy around that some people must be show such!

  22. This is great, but I sort of agree with some of the commenters. This has to be the norm in our society, so I hope in some time stuff like this will not be newsworthy.

  23. Good for them! Equal opportunity and hard work. Hope they’re getting paid the same as the men.

  24. It is who cares. You do NOT live in a county. You live in a corporation.

    Why not talk competence and proficiency that got 2 people into the cockpit?

    Why is it all about identity politics in the empire–that’s a way NOT to talk about politics. Everything is genitalia, skin colour, and other PC BS. How about corporate fascism, 99% (who all want to be the 1%–not the rigged game of hyper us capitalism), the trillion $+ us war industries, no health care, no pensions, no real retirement, etc etc..instead of identity politics.

  25. @Erin K. – “Why is it all about identity politics in the empire–that’s a way NOT to talk about politics. Everything is genitalia, skin colour, and other PC BS. How about corporate fascism, 99% (who all want to be the 1%–not the rigged game of hyper us capitalism), the trillion $+ us war industries, no health care, no pensions, no real retirement, etc etc..instead of identity politics.”

    In case you missed it, this is a blog post about two black women who, through competence and proficiency, got into the cockpit of a major us airline. Unfortunately, black women are underrepresented in the cockpits of US airlines, so this was a blog post to celebrate that hard work paying off.

    This was most definitely NOT a post about identity politics, war industries, health care, pensions, real retirement, or anything not mentioned in the blog post. In fact, nowhere in the piece are those terms even mentioned. What you may want to do is Google “identity politics,” “war industries,” “health care,” “pensions,” “real retirement,” or anything not mentioned in the blog post and participate in a meaningful discussions about all of those (very important) subjects on one of the sites Google recommends based on your search terms.

    Here’s an example of how to search for “identity politics” on Google: Good luck with your search!

  26. Dear TravelingWilly–The question still remains why do americans focus obcess over identity politics? Genitalia and skin colour appear to be us obsessions, and Horatio Alger illusions of corporate “hard work”–well know propaganda and simply identity politics.

    How about discussing their competence and achievement as pilots instead of ruminations of colourations and genitalia? Is that an american thing? Thanks.

  27. Those are two badass women who I’m sure overcame more adversity than all the naysayers on this blog. Thanks for sharing @Lucky. I wish that it weren’t a first, but we still have a long way to go and it’s important to celebrate this milestone! When minorities and women are 50% or more of the pilots out there we can stop paying attention to these things. But until then we celebrate every hard-fought win!

  28. Erin it seems like you have no clue about racial and gender discrimination. For women and minority they usually don’t get the opportunity to take these positions because the employers often have implicit or explicit bias toward them, just like you are saying many white men think that the rest is not competent thus do not hire minorities and women. Also there are historical disadvantages toward women and minority so many of them didn’t have the opportunity to get qualified. It’s a deep issue in many societies and the us is at least trying to address it and have a meaningful discussion whereas Europe is far behind in that regard. And finally I am sure these two women worked harder and are more competent than many white male pilots out there because otherwise they wouldn’t have got this job given the current social structure. I can’t imagine what kinda bs they had to go through to get here

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *