Stephanie Johnson is no stranger to making history—in 2007 she became the first black female pilot for Northwest Airlines. Just in time for Black History Month and Women’s History Month, she made history again becoming Delta Air Lines’ first Black female captain.
“There were no pilots in my life growing up, and I think I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college. 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.’”
Johnson also shared that a high school physics teacher encouraged her to pursue her dreams, which she ended up learning how to fly while studying at Kent State University in Ohio.
“After building flight time as an instructor, I was hired by a commuter carrier, where I was able to earn enough good flight experience to apply for a job at Northwest Airlines, and I was hired as their first African-American female pilot in 1997,” she said.
“I feel a great sense of responsibility to be a positive role model,” she added. “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.”
Johnson also stressed how things have changed for women in her industry over the years.
“Today is very different, and though there are still people to inform, I am so thankful that the word is out. One of the most rewarding parts of my career has been sharing my passion for aviation and exposing young people to the opportunities in the field.”
In addition, Johnson along with Delta First Officer Dawn Cook, recently made history together being the first African- American women cockpit crew on one of Delta’s “mainline” flights. Johnson and Cook flew from Detroit to Las Vegas on Sunday (Feb. 26).