NewsWomen's History Month


How a Colorado woman broke barriers in aviation for women across the country

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Posted at 7:05 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-29 13:37:32-04

DENVER — When Emily Howell Warner stepped into a Frontier Airlines cockpit in 1973, she stepped into history.

“She was the first commercial woman airline pilot in the United States,” friend and mentee of Emily’s, Kelly Marcotte Akulschin, said.

Warner was a Colorado native, known for breaking that barrier, but also for her skill as a pilot.

“It wasn't just that she was this female pilot that came up at the right time, she was excellent at what she did,” Akulschin explained.

As a pilot, Warner would go on to earn her captain’s wings, and log more flight hours than any other woman in the world. She also helped teach and mentor other young pilots, including Akuschin.

“She actually gave me my first flight lesson. She also helped pay for some of my first hours of flight time. And then as I was coming up in my career, she was that woman I could lean on and ask questions to,” she said.

A successful commercial pilot herself, Akulschin said she, and women in aviation in general, owe their careers to Warner.

Warner is a member of the Colorado and National Women’s Hall of Fame. Her uniform is on display in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian. And her impact is still being felt in cockpits and classrooms around the country.

“She taught me a lot about paying it forward and giving it back to my community,” Akulschin said. “And I teach at Metro, MSU Denver, and helping young freshmen start their careers as well in aviation.”

She said more women have been getting into the field in recent years. Those women will, in some ways, carry on the legacy of Colorado’s pioneering pilot.

We're still very few as far as the male-to-female ratio goes, but the number grows. And we owe it to those women that came before us,” Akulschin said.

For more on Emily Howell Warner’s barrier breaking career and life, head here.

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