In a male dominated career as a pilot, in 1973, Emily Howell Warner became the first woman pilot of a scheduled airline. Then in 1976, she was the first woman to become a Captain of a scheduled U.S. airliner. In her career, she flew more than 21,000 flight hours and performed more than 3,000 check rides and evaluations. She is the first woman member of the Air Line Pilots Association and was the first leader of the first all-female Continental Airlines flight crew. Her warm and gentle nature, infectious laugh and witty stories, and shear enthusiasm and will power helped her obtain many “firsts.”
At the age of 18, she had the idea of becoming an airline stewardess. Through a co-worker’s urging, Emily booked her first flight on an airplane traveling from Denver to Gunnison. On the way home, she was invited to visit the cockpit, and as she watched the view from the front of the airplane, rather than from the cabin, she was so excited that the captain suggested she take flying lessons. There was no hesitation on her part. She worked 2 and 3 jobs earning money for flying lessons, and then landed a job at Clinton Aviation, first as a receptionist and later as a flight instructor, earning pilot license ratings and racking up flight hours at every opportunity.
She watched male instructors add flight time and get hired on by the big airlines, and she started to feel that it wouldn’t be long until the gender barrier of a woman pilot could happen. She worked diligently applying for a job at Frontier Airlines, Continental and United Airlines, continuing to add flight hours and qualifications to her resume. She knocked on doors for 6 years before she was invited for an interview and hired by Frontier’s then vice president, Ed O’Neil, who was in charge of flight operations. A pants suit in the design of a uniform would work as her new attire, of course, with some stripes on it. That uniform now hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Acceptance came slowly, but once the word spread that she was part of the guys and was ok, things got a little easier.
She flew a long career flying for Frontier, Continental and United Parcel Service, and later became a Denver-based FAA inspector. She has received many accolades and awards during and after her retirement. She was the recipient of the “Bob Hoover Freedom of Flight Award” and is a Living Legends of Aviation. In 2014 she was enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2015, the airport in Granby, Colorado, a place she considered home for over 25 years, was renamed the Emily Warner Field.
Emily is a great role model who encourages women and girls to get into aviation. She attended several elementary school tours with the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy where she eagerly encouraged children, especially girls, how fun it was to fly. She prided herself in her smooth, perfect landings.
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