Breaking Boundaries in the Sky

December 5, 2018 | 8:00pm
Presented Online | Museum in Washington, DC
Free, Tickets Required

Today's live program has concluded. A recording of the LIVE show will be available shortly. Please check back.

Though the federal government is closed on December 5, this lecture will take place as scheduled. 

Aviators from diverse backgrounds share how they overcame barriers to become commercial airline pilots. 

Who’s behind the cockpit door? When we think of airline pilots, we have a certain picture in our minds. However, women and minorities are making important strides to increase diversity within the industry. These panelists, who have broken gender and racial barriers in the industry, will address the current social landscape of commercial flying and reflect upon their own experiences.


  • Beverley Bass was the first female pilot to be named captain by American Airlines. When her American Airlines 777 was diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on 9/11, she spent four days being responsible for the safety of her crew, passengers, and aircraft. Her story is portrayed in the hit Broadway show Come From Away. Bass co-founded the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISWAP).
  • Brad Lang is a Delta Captain and the son of a Tuskegee Airman. He has been involved with the Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron since 1997. He wrote a powerful piece about his father for Air & Space magazine, “My Father, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Dream of Flight,” published in September 2016.
  • Refilwe Ledwaba is a South African social entrepreneur and pilot passionate about youth development and economic empowerment of women in Africa. She served as an officer and helicopter pilot for the South African Police Services for 10 years, and an airline pilot for a regional airline for two years. She is also the founder of Women & Aviation, an organization dedicated to the economic empowerment and leadership development of women in the aviation and aerospace industry in Africa. 

Moderated by Phil Tiemeyer, asociate professor of history at Kansas State University and author of Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants.

This lecture is free, but tickets are required. Reserve tickets now.

The GE Aviation Lecture series is made possible by the generous support of GE Aviation.