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Soaring to New Heights: Meet Delta's First Black Female Captain

After 20 years as a commercial airline pilot, Stephanie Johnson is Delta Air Lines first black female pilot.
Image: Stephanie Johnson
Stephanie Johnson is Delta Air Lines first black female captain.Delta Air Lines

Some say the sky is the limit, but not for Stephanie Johnson.

After being an airline pilot for 20 years, she broke through the glass ceiling and became Delta Air Lines' first black female captain in 2016. Being the first in her family to graduate from college, Johnson has always had her eyes on the skies.

“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 said in an interview with Delta News Hub.

While in college at Kent State University, she learned how to spread her wings. Mastering the technique she became a flight instructor for the aviation program. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Technology she landed her first job with Mesa Airlines as a commercial pilot. In 1997 she broke a barrier becoming the first black female pilot for Northwest Airlines.

Happy to fulfill her dream for flying, Johnson says her proudest accomplishment is giving others the opportunity to soar. Last year she was director of the Cleveland Aviation Career Education Academy and has been a part of the Detroit Aviation Career Education Academy, giving high school students the chance to learn about aviation.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility to be a positive role model. There are so few women in this profession and too many women who still don’t think of it as a career option,” Johnson said. “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.”

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