Captain Stephanie Johnson is the first Black female captain for Delta Airlines, the second of her historic achievements as a pilot. Twenty years ago, Captain Johnson became the first Black female pilot for Northwest Airlines and last year, Delta promoted her to her current post.
The Kent State University graduate caught the flying bug in high school after a physics teacher took Johnson and a few friends on a flight. Johnson even got to fly the airplane for a spell and from there, she was hooked. After leaving Kent State with a degree in Aerospace Technology, she became the instructor for the school’s aviation program.
After working a series of odd jobs, Johnson’s first flight job was with Mesa Airlines. She became Northwest Airline’s first Black woman pilot in 1997, before moving on to Delta. In a profile recently published by Delta, Johnson says that she’s the first of her family to graduate from college and is delighted by the fact that she’s a role model for aspiring pilots across all walks of life but most especially young women.
The historical first keep coming for Johnson. Last week, she and First Officer Dawn Cook became the first all-Black, all-female crew for Delta on a flight from Johnson’s base of Detroit to Las Vegas. Johnson and Cook posed for a photo op after landing in Nevada on Feb. 26.
Johnson said that when she began her flight career, there were only 12 other Black women in the profession. While Johnson does admit times are changing, she is proud to be an inspiration for others.