Is this the world’s first mother-daughter pilot team?
Captain Suzy Garrett and First Officer Donna Garrett flew together for the US airline SkyWest in 2019 and now their story is being shared around the world.
Suzy is one of SkyWest’s longest-serving pilots and was the eleventh female pilot to be employed there in 1989. She was celebrating her 30th year with the airline when she first flew with her daughter: “We knew it was really special,” says Suzy, who hopes to fly with Donna again once Covid allows.
Donna was inspired to become a pilot because of her mother (and father, also a pilot). “To know that it’s actually inspired my daughter was the icing on the cake,” says Suzy.
Suzy’s ambition to become a pilot began in eighth grade when she flew for the first time, from Arizona to Los Angeles. “Back then women weren’t really pilots, and pretty much the military was the only way of becoming one, but I wasn’t tall enough for the military,” she says. Suzy enrolled in aviation school and worked as a flight instructor before getting her first job at SkyWest.
Suzy says she hasn’t faced discrimination whilst in the cockpit, and believes she had “the same amount of opportunities” as her male counterparts. Yet 92.5% of professional pilots are male, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. In addition, 93.7% of professional pilots are White.
Organisations such as Fly for the Culture and Sisters of the Skies hope to make aviation accessible by providing mentors for Black pilots and other underrepresented groups. Other initiatives include scholarships.
Airlines including Cathay Pacific Airways have joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s 25by2025 campaign, which aims to improve female representation in the airline industry by 25 per cent, or up to a minimum of 25 per cent, by 2025.
Cathay Pacific has set a target for women to account for 10 per cent of pilots by 2023.
Perhaps this will inspire a new generation of female Garrett pilots in the future.