We’ve been hitting the pavement making progress for years, now we’re soaring through the skies doing the same!
Stephanie Johnson, an airline pilot for 20 years, recently became the first black female captain for Delta Airlines in 2016.
Johnson has had an interest in airplanes for as long as she can remember. Interviewing with Delta News Hub, she recalls a physics teacher gifting her a small taste of what piloting might be like. “In high school, my physics teacher, Mr. White, mentioned that he had an airplane, and I asked him if he’d ever take students flying. He agreed as long as I could get a couple of my friends to come and pay for gas. I was so excited and thought it was such a generous offer – I found my two bravest friends and we set a date.”
As a first generation college graduate, that high school experience inspired her to major in Aerospace technology while at Kent State University.
However, after her schooling was complete, she didn’t directly jump into the pilot’s seat. She paid her dues by being a flight instructor, making her coins in airport operations and even working at Blockbuster (the movie rental store of the ‘90s and 2000s). But after earning enough flight experience, Johnson finally booked her first job as a pilot with Northwest Airlines in 1997, becoming their first black female pilot.
Johnson, becoming Delta’s First Black Female Captain, is a momentous barrier-breaking moment when you look at the stats. In 2013, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) reported that there was a total of 617,128 pilots of all races and origins, but only 2 percent identified themselves as African Americans. So, you can imagine how few flight captains there must still be now that are not only black but also women.
Stephanie Johnson is proudly paving the way for more black women in the wings to sit in the driver’s seat for many of our future flights. Do it, girl!