In 1976, Emily Howell Warner was the first woman to become a US airline captain. Her career took her to the National Aviation Hall of Fame and National Women’s Hall of Fame. Today, you can find her pilot uniform on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Warner flew more than 21,000 flight hours and performed more than 3,000 check rides and evaluations over her career.

Early Life

Warner was born on October 30, 1939, in Denver, Colorado. Her interest in airplanes was first noticed as a young child. She looked into becoming a flight attendant after graduating from high school. It was her first experience on a plane at age seventeen that made her change course and pursue a career as a pilot. During the flight, she was allowed to sit in the cockpit, and the pilot seeing her excitement, encouraged her to take flight lessons. Within a year of beginning flight lessons, she obtained her private pilot license and got a job as a flying traffic reporter.

Early Aviation Career

Warner took a job as a receptionist for Clinton Aviation Company in Denver to pay for her flight instruction. Later she worked as a flight instructor herself and obtained additional certificates and as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. She worked maintenance flights and other jobs to build her hours. In 1966 she was the first woman to be appointed a designated FAA Pilot Examiner under United Airlines.

An Aviation First

In January of 1973 Waner was hired by Frontier Airlines. It had been 15 years since her first flight. When Warner was hired there were no other women working as pilots for any major commercial airline. Five years later there were about 300 female commercial pilots in the US. In 1976, Warner earned her captain’s wings and became the first woman US airline captain, flying a Twin Otter.  

Awards and Honors

  • Amelia Earhart Award
  • Featured speaker for the United Nations’ International Women’s Year
  • Uniform is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum
  • First woman given membership in the Air Line Pilots Association
  • Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame
  • Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame
  • National Women’s Hall of Fame
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame

Ready for a Career in Flight?

Emily Warner had an amazing career in aviation.  You can see her path was not straightforward, but everyone can agree it ended pretty well. If you think you want to try the aviation path out for yourself its much easier today than it was for Emily. The demand for pilots is high, and the rewards are big. Book your discovery flight today and find out how CTI can get you started in aviation.

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