Jill E. Brown




Jill E. Brown



Jill Elaine Brown was receiving her wings in 1978 as the first African-American female pilot to fly for a major U.S. commercial airline. Ms. Brown, then 28, was one of six women to graduate in a class of 38 pilots from then Texas International Airline's training program. Her interest in aviation, however, like those Black female pioneers before her, began in her formative years. Brown began flying at the age of 17 when she and her parents Gilbert and Elaine Brown, undertook the project as a hobby. "Daddy was tired of getting speeding tickets," she told Ebony magazine in a 1975 interview.

"And one day, while they were driving past a small airport they saw a plane landing, Daddy decided that was for us. She soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub and later the family acquired its own plane, a single-engine Piper Cherokee 180D for weekends and vacations. They dubbed it the "Little Golden Hawk". "We called ourselves Brown's United Airlines," she said. "I used to ask if I could use the plane like other kids asked for the family car." A graduate of the University of Maryland with a Home Economics degree, Brown took a teaching job in Massachusetts. However, feeling uninspired, she would later apply to the U.S. Navy for officer's training. After six months, Brown and the Navy parted ways, according to her inability to "just keep quiet and take orders."


(See Black Owned Airline)

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