International Women’s Day: Inspiring the next generation of women with wings

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine

Recently, an all-female crew flew an extra special flight to Seattle. It was Capt. Callie’s last flight with Horizon Air, our long-time regional airline sister company and her first time having flown her mom and grandfather as guests in the main cabin.  

Caille’s grandfather.

“It was great. I’m proud of her. She found what she wanted and stuck to it,” said her grandfather, a Boeing retiree. 

Soon, Callie will pilot aircraft with Alaska Airlines, where her mom has been a flight attendant for over 30 years. This transition from Horizon to Alaska is a great example of our Pilot Pathways Program at work and how it creates the most direct flight path for Horizon pilots to make the move from a regional to a major airline, if desired, as simple as possible.  

“I look forward to that [Callie flying for Alaska]— to flying with her in the future,” her mom said. 

“It was a pretty special flight for us,” said Callie.

From the ground up

Callie began working for Horizon Air in 2015 as a ramp agent in Yakima.  She later transferred to Redmond, Oregon, where she would earn her wings and fly that commemorative flight before transitioning to first officer at Alaska.

From the start, women have played a major role in building up the aviation industry. While there has been improvement over the years, there is still room for more representation in the flight deck. 

Women like Callie and her co-pilot Meagan on flight 2342 have fought for more representation in the industry and now have greater opportunities to become pilots, ground crew and executives. The question is, do young girls know this? To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re championing women like Callie and Meagan to show how far the industry has come in recent years and set an example for future generations of women in aviation. 

Capt. Callie and First Officer Meagan
Caille’s grandfather.

“I wish I would have known the path to take to become a pilot at a younger age. If someone had reached me in my high school years and showed what the career actually looked like, I probably would have done it a lot sooner,” said Horizon First Officer Meagan, who earned her wings when she was 22. 

Training the next generation of pilots 

Last March, Alaska and Horizon teamed up with Hillsboro Aero Academy, a premier flight school in the Pacific Northwest, to launch the Ascend Pilot Academy (APA). This new development program, designed for aspiring pilots, provides a simpler, more financially accessible path to becoming a commercial pilot at Horizon and, eventually, Alaska. The program is part of a larger effort to address a growing pilot shortage and increased travel demand. 

In partnership with Hillsboro Aero, we expect to register and train up to 250 students a year. Additionally, our Ascend Pilot Academy aims to provide aspiring pilots with a more accessible path to becoming a student pilot. Enrolled cadets will be eligible for access to financial aid and a stipend of up to $26,463 upon signing on to work for Horizon Air. 

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  1. Callie and Meagan are two of the coolest cats that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Both are superb communicators, aviators, and genuine people! Best of luck at Alaska Callie, you earned it!

  2. Congratulations Callie! Way to achieve your dream!

  3. As a new FO I have flown with Caille a few times and the mentorship and guidance she provided to me was pure excellence. I truly enjoyed flying with her and learning a great deal from her as well with her vast knowledge base. Going from the ramp to the flight deck as a Captain and a woman is also truly inspiring. I had the pleasant surprise and opportunity to fly with her just a few days before she was leaving for Alaska – it was awesome.

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