The Jet Age (1958 - Today)

Social Change in the Airline Industry

The dramatic social and cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s profoundly affected commercial aviation. Barriers against the widespread participation of women and minorities began to fall, and airlines began to hire women and African Americans as pilots.

Emily Howell
National Air and Space Museum Archives

First Officer
Frontier Airlines, 1973

Emily Howell broke through the gender barrier to become the first American woman to fly routinely for a scheduled U.S. commercial airline. An experienced pilot when regional carrier Frontier Airlines hired her as a second officer in 1973, Howell soon advanced to first officer (co-pilot) and then to captain.

First Officer
American Airlines, 1973

Bonnie Tiburzi became the first American woman to fly for a major carrier when she was hired by American Airlines in 1973.