Black Women Pilots Patrice Clark-Washington


AvStop Magazine Online

Patrice Clark-Washington

The First Black Female To Become A Captain For A Commercial Airline.

First officer Patrice Clarke never intended to write history. A UPS pilot. she never set out to be one of the first Black females to graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida with an aeronautical degree. Nor did she plan to be the only female professional pilot working; in her native country of the Bahamas.

Ms. Clarke only wanted to be a pilot. "I first became interested in aviation while participating in career week activities at my high school in Nassau, Bahamas. My first thought was to become a flight attendant. Then I decided I wanted to fly planes," she said in the Organization of Black Airline Pilots newsletter. "When I told my friends that I wanted to become a pilot, they laughed at me. Rut my mother taught me that there was no limit to what I could become." A native of Nassau, Clarke began her career at Trans Island Airways. a small charter airline. Later, she was hired by Bahamasair, and in 1988 began work as a pilot for UPS.

Ms. Clarke, one of only 11 African-American female commercial pilots in the U.S. airline industry, was recently promoted to captain with United Parcel Service. This advancement marks the first time an African American female has become a captain for a major airline. She and her husband, Ray who is a pilot for American Airlines are the only African American couple whom both fly for a major commercial carrier.

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