A lecture entitled “Breaking Boundaries in the Sky” focusing on the experiences of women and people of color, who overcame obstacles to become commercial airline pilots in an industry dominated by white men, will be held at The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on December 5.
The pilots coming from diverse backgrounds will speak about the challenges they faced in the process of becoming successful commercial airline pilots.
“Who’s behind the cockpit door? When we think of airline pilots, we have a certain picture in our minds. However, women and minorities are making important strides to increase diversity within the industry,” notes the lecture brief on The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum website. “These panelists, who have broken gender and racial barriers in the industry, will address the current social landscape of commercial flying and reflect upon their own experiences.”
Among the speakers is Beverley Bass, the first female pilot to be named captain by
American Airlines. Her story inspired the Broadway show Come From Away.
Other speakers include Brad Lang, a Delta Captain and the son of a Tuskegee Airman. Lang has been with the Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron since 1997.
Refilwe Ledwaba, a South African helicopter pilot and a former officer, will also be speaking in the panel. She worked for the South African Police Services for 10 years and served as a pilot for a regional airline for two years. She is also the founder of Women & Aviation, an organization that works for the economic empowerment and leadership development of women in the aviation and aerospace industry in Africa.
The free lecture, sponsored by GE Aviation, will be moderated by Phil Tiemeyer, associate professor of history at Kansas State University, and author of Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants.
While the event is free of charge, it requires tickets, which can be booked here.