women in aviation and space history

Emily Howell Warner

Emily Howell Warner
NASM-2009-31648
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Emily Howell Warner

America By Air (102)

Emily Howell Warner was the first permanent female pilot for a scheduled U.S. passenger airline. She took her first airplane ride when she was 17, and immediately decided on aviation as a career. After getting the approval of her parents, she paid for the $13-a-week flying lessons with a $38-a-week paycheck. Within a year, she had a private pilot license and a job as a flying traffic reporter, sometimes working 14 hours a day by cramming a full-time office job in between morning and evening flights. A year later she became a certified flight instructor at Clinton Aviation Company in Denver, Colorado, and was promoted to flight-school manager and chief pilot. She first sought a job at Frontier Airlines in 1968, and renewed her application frequently. After she turned 30, she lost all hope of being hired, especially after watching her own former students, who happened to be male, being hired. Finally, in January 1973, Frontier agreed to take the bold step of hiring a woman. She initially flew as a first officer on Convair 580s and de Havilland Twin Otters. In 1976, she became the first female U.S. airline captain, flying a Twin Otter. Warner then became captain of a Boeing 737 for United Parcel Service. In 1974, she became the first woman member of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). In 1990, she retired from UPS to become a Federal Aviation Administration examiner.

(information compiled by D. Cochrane and P. Ramirez)