This past February, right before the end of Black History Month, four Black women made headlines as the nation’s first all Black female flight crew. I was happy to read the headlines: “First All-Black Female Flight Crew Flies to Nashville” but a few minutes later I started googling the history of Black pilots in the US and some shock settled in. Did you know only 12 Black women are pilots in the US? That number is even more dismal when you start talking Captains.
There are an estimated 674 Black pilots in the U.S., including at least 12 Black female pilots. Cumulatively that number sort of sounds impressive, until you realize that there were more than 71,000 registered pilots working in 2008. The struggle to increase these numbers is going to get even tougher with the current state of schools and unjust hiring and retention practices as the generation of Black pilots hired in the 60’s reaches FAA mandatory retirement age.