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All-Women Crew Pilots United Flight to Inspire 'Girls and the Future Generation'

Captained by one of very few Black woman pilots at the airline, the all-women crew took off from Newark, N.J. heading for Sarasota, Fla. on Thursday morning

<p>Gary Hershorn/Getty</p> A United Airlines plane sits at the gate at Newark Liberty International Airport

Gary Hershorn/Getty

A United Airlines plane sits at the gate at Newark Liberty International Airport

United Airlines has called on a very special flight crew to celebrate Women’s History Month,

On Thursday morning, a United flight heading from Newark, N.J. to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in Florida was operated by an all-women flight crew.

Headed up by Captain Gabrielle Harding — the second Black woman Line Check Pilot in the company’s history — flight 1215 is also served by all women flight attendants.

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Harding is the only Black woman captain working for a commercial airline who graduated from a historically Black college or university’s pilot program — graduating from Hampton University in 1997 — and she is the only woman in the “Hampton 6,” the group of alumni who are all captains for United Airlines, according to a press release from United,

A 2022 study from the Women in Aviation Advisory Board found that women make up just 4.6% of air transport pilot jobs — but Harding told ABC7 that one of the reasons she wanted to become a Line Check Pilot and train new recruits was to help them overcome these barriers.

“I love everything about flying,” Harding told outlet. “It gives me stability to be a mother, as well as to be able to travel to different places. I love every aspect of the job.”

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First Officer Julia Ewalefo is assisting and training with Harding on flight 1215. This marks her first flight with the airline. The former flight attendant worked at Frontier Airlines and Endeavor before making her way to United.

“For the girls and the future generation — just knowing it’s possible for us, and just to be inspired and knowing that anything you wanna do, just put your mind to it," she told ABC7.

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The women are expected to arrive back in New Jersey on flight 2612, at 2:12 p.m. on Thursday.

Although Women’s History Month has just kicked off, airlines around the world have previously celebrated their women crews and captains. Just last year, another all-women crew working for Horizon Air flew to Seattle, as its captain prepared to transfer to Alaska, the company’s sister airline.

Air Canada did the same in 2019 including female marshals guiding the plane on the ground and an avionics professional.

And in 2023, American Airlines operated a flight crewed by all Black women in honor of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot's license.

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