Trailblazing United Airlines Captain M’lis Ward Hopes to Increase Diversity in Aviation

As Coloradans celebrate Black History Month, a trailblazer among Black aviators is working to make sure more young Black Coloradans have opportunities to take to the skies. United Airlines Captain M’lis Ward, a Denver resident, said she is working with her employer to make sure those in marginalized communities can access a future in the airline industry.

“In 1998 I became the first Black woman to become captain at United Airlines,” Ward said.

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Ward was not only the first Black woman to become a captain for United, but she was also the first Black woman captain for any commercial passenger airline in the United States.

However, even nearly 25 years after she made the historic move to being a captain, there are few Black women working as pilots in the profession.

“There is incredible room for growth for African Americans in the aviation industry,” Ward told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

United Airlines currently employs more than 14,000 pilots.

“Less than 2,000 of those pilots are either women or racial minorities,” Ward said. “For young women and minorities that opportunity is not there because there was no one ahead of them. So what we have to do is create those pathways.”

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SOURCE: CBS Denver, Dillon Thomas

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