MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the first commercial flight ever recorded in US history with an all-women cockpit crew took place in 1984.

It was a historic day for both US commercial aviation and women, as two ladies set off to break a sky-high (hypothetical) glass ceiling, being the first all-female flight deck to pilot a Frontier Airlines (F9) Boeing 737-200.

The Boeing 737-200 were short- to medium-range, narrow-body, twin-engine aircraft. The first flight of the -200 took place on August 8, 1967. It had a two-person flying crew and a maximum capacity of 136 passengers.

Mrs. Emily Howell Warner and Mrs. Barbara Cook flew their Boeing 737 from Denver, Colorado to Lexington, Kentucky. Clearly, this was an amazing feat considering there weren’t even that many female aviators yet at the time.

A Frontier Airlines Boeing 737-200, N7382F, circa 1984. This is the same type airliner flown by Captain Warner and First Officer Cook, 16 June 1984. Photo: Eduard Marmet

First Female Pilot Hired by a US Scheduled Carrier

After grueling testing and with much scrutiny, Mrs. Warner was accepted at F9, becoming the first female pilot to be hired by a US scheduled carrier. In 1976, she promoted to Captain, making her the first female to hold that title in the US. Both ladies were surprised at the pairing as it was a complete coincidence.

Except for this significant detail, F9’s flight 244, traveling from Denver’s Stapleton International Airport (DEN), was a regular flight.

Being the first of anything comes with great pride but also great responsibilities and Mrs. Warner sure made her mark, having been inducted into both the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Her uniform is displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. She retired in 2002 with over 21,000 hours of flight under her belt and, sadly, passed away in July 2020. 

Featured image: Captain Emily Warner and co-pilot Barbara Cook before their historic flight from Dever, CO to Lexington, KY. Photo: Frontier Airlines