As a young girl Emily Howell Warner liked to do activities that involved using her hands. In high school she was introduced to aviation by her senior year English teacher when the teacher required her to read Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. “I couldn’t put it down. That teacher opened the door for me.” After High School she worked at May Company where flight attendants took lessons in deportment and customer relations. Emily took her first flight with a co-worker.
On the flight back she asked if she could see the cockpit. The pilots let her sit in the jump seat. As soon as she saw out the front window she exclaimed, “This is really neat!” It was 1958, Emily asked the co-pilot, “ Can a girl take flying lessons?” He said she should go to Clinton Aviation for lessons. The next day she was on the bus to Stapleton Airport for her first lessons.
In 196 she applied for an airline pilot’s position. It was the 60’s and attitudes towards women were beginning to change.”However the timing was not right and Emily heard all the lines. We’re not hiring now. We’ll take your information and call you back. It took another 6 years of rejection before a friend got her an interview with Ed O’Neil of Frontier Airlines. He gave her a chance an in 1973 she became the first woman commerical airline pilot and three years later the first female captain.
Emily had opened the door for other women who wanted the same dream. It wasn’t long before other airlines stared hiring women pilots and the Navy and AF began assigning women to flight training. That resulted in Eileen Collins becoming the first woman commander in space.
This is a personal note: I remember a flight to a Mexican seaside destination where the weather was stormy. A male voice came over the intercon informing us the landing might be a “little bumpy.” We all braced for the landing. It was smooth and not the least bumpy, even though we could see the palm trees bending as they blew in the wind. A female voice came over the intercon, “This is Mary X your captain speaking, thank you for flying with us.” A man behind me said in a loud voice, “My God, we had a WOMAN pilot!” A turned around and quickly said, “and how did SHE land the plane?” Of course, he had to reply in positive terms.