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First Female Pilot At A Major Airline, Emily Howell Warner, Flies West

A pioneer you’ve likely never heard of passes away at 80.

Emily Howell Warner
Emily Howell Warner. Courtesy Denver Public Library

Aviation pioneer Emily Howell Warner passed away on July 3, 2020. When she was hired by Frontier Airlines to fly as a first officer on the 737 in 1973, she became the first woman flying full time for a major U.S. airline, though the achievement was hard-won. Howell, according to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, had more than 7,000 hours of total time before getting hired by Frontier, and she was required to pass tests that the male applicants in her hiring class weren’t given. She went on to become the first female captain at a major U.S. airline when, in 197,6 she got a spot in the left seat at Frontier.

Howell was also the first female member of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) and she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall Of Fame in 2014. She retired from flying with more than 21,000 hours in her logbooks.

All of that’s a big deal, but people who knew and loved Emily, said that she thought of herself as anything but a big deal. She was, in fact, they say, humble, serious, kind, and expert. And they say that she made a lasting, positive impact upon so many of the lives she touched. That’s not only a big deal, but that’s the real deal. Tailwinds, Captain Warner.


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