Black people keep on achieving groundbreaking firsts.
Alaska Airlines stepped into the future on Mother’s Day when two Black women pilots flew a plane across the West Coast. The two pilots were part of the airlines’ first-ever Black women flight crew. Yes, this is #BlackGirlMagic!
Captain Tara Wright and first officer Mallory Cave flew Flight 361 from San Francisco to Portland Sunday, KTVA, an Alaska news outlet, reported. They stepped out of the cockpit to talk to passengers and film a Facebook video before their Boeing 737’s takeoff.
Both pilots realized that they had done something incredible, especially given that it’s rare to see an all-female flight team, as well as one with women of color, on a major airline.
“Finally, you’re sharing a pretty interesting piece of Alaska Airlines history this morning,” Wright told passengers, who erupted into applause. “You’ll be piloted by two female African-American pilots for the first time in the airline’s history.”
The women’s achievement is also remarkable given that Alaska Airlines, formed in 1932, and other airlines have struggled with representation of people of color. More than 72 percent of the airline industry employees are White and 60 percent are male, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specifically looking at flight crews across various airlines, 91 percent of pilots and 73 percent of flight attendants are White. Just 9 percent of pilots are female as compared to nearly 75 percent of flight attendants.
Wright and Cave’s victory is also incredible considering that Alaska has no sizeable population of African Americans. The population is made up of 3.8 percent of Blacks, as compared to 66.1 percent of Whites, according to U.S. Census data collected last July.
It’s clear that the women have paved the way for more ladies of color to step into the cockpit.