A mother and her two children both work as pilots for Delta, and on this steamy Los Angeles afternoon, Kelly Jacobson is inspecting practically every exterior surface of her 200,000-pound aircraft while donning her official Delta Air Lines attire. She will be sharing the controls of the Boeing 757 with a pilot that she has interacted with frequently outside of the cockpit. In preparation for the more than three-hour trip to Atlanta, several families are gathering their stuff inside the terminal. As a gift to the kids, the pilots have put brand-new plastic wings to some of their shirts.
Flying is the “family business” for Kate Dixon, a Delta pilot who flies the airline’s Airbus A320. “We would run around in their captain caps and have fun like young kids and go on their adventures with them,” Wendy’s oldest daughter Kelly told ABC News. I began flying when I was 16 years old, and I had the privilege of training Kate as my very first pupil.
“Kelly was my professor. She was my instructor, and I didn’t treat her like a sister because, well, she wasn’t at the time “Kate was the one who responded. “She was my instructor, and I believe that helped both of us grow.” Kate, the youngest daughter, admitted that she “dabbled” in different careers before falling in love with aviation.
A Rexon trip was unlike any other. Kate and Kelly donned the figurative captain’s hat at an altitude of several thousand feet at an age when ᴍᴀɴy parents wouldn’t dream of letting teens drive on a long road trip.
Kelly, who was sitting next to her mother and former flight instructor, said, “We go on vacations in miniature airplanes when Kate and I were building time, and mum and dad are in the rear seat.” Wendy says, citing the opportunity as a safer alternative to other temptations for her children. But hardly ᴍᴀɴy teenagers come from a line of aviators. Wendy started flying at the age of 16, and her husband is an American Airlines pilot. It’s no secret that American airlines struggle to find female pilots. Only 7% of pilots are female, according to 2017 Federal Aviation Administration data.
In February, Wendy and Kelly took their first flight as a team out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Nᴇᴡ Yᴏʀᴋ and due to “an unforeseen twist,” the trip didn’t go quite as planned. The jet was about to take off for Los Angeles when the cockpit started to fill with smoke and fumes, which is not unusual but calls for a detour before things get worse.
Wendy and Kelly decided to take a flight back to JFK. Kelly is heard telling the JFK control tower on air traffic control audio, “Delta 1975, we’re going to stop on the runway, we need them to come check us out, there’s no smoke in the cabin, but there’s smoke in the cockpit, we’re going to open the windows,” according to ABC News’ acquisition of the recording via LiveATC.net. Wendy saw her daughter perform an emergency landing for the first time as the jet landed safely and the passengers were flown to Los Angeles.
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Video resource: aviatrix99