On Sunday, First Officer Dawn Cook and Captain Stephanie Johnson made history as the first ever black women pilots to fly together on a Delta mainline flight. Just recently, Johnson also became the first ever black woman captain for Delta Airlines.
During an interview for Black History Month, she recently shared about her dream of flying:
‘There were no pilots in my life growing up, and I think I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college. … But for as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with airplanes and would think, “What a great thing it would be to know how to fly.”’ – Captain Stephanie Johnson, Source: Delta
In the same interview, she also weighed in on her position as a pioneer:
‘I feel a great sense of responsibility to be a positive role model. … There are so few women in this profession and too many women who still don’t think of it as a career option. When I was hired by Northwest Airlines, there were 12 African-American women airline pilots in the country at the major airlines, and I knew all of their names.’
Captain Johnson wrapped up the interview by sharing a special moment from one of her flights — a moment in which she met another pioneer:
‘Another moment was when jazz great Lionel Hampton was onboard one of my flights. He was in a wheelchair, but his assistant came to the flight deck and told me he wanted to meet with him. When I greeted him after the flight, he was incredibly gracious and told me he was proud of me. I was speechless. Here was a talented pioneer – someone I had read about and whose music I had listened to. I was shocked and honored.
Mr. Hampton lived and created something powerful at a time in our country when African-Americans were not afforded the same rights we have today. It is because of people like him and every Tuskegee Airman that I am where I am. It is my responsibility and pleasure to share what I can with the next generation.’
Photo: The ladies doing a fist pump before flight.