In 2019, Captain Suzy Garrett and her daughter Donna Garrett made history as the first mother-daughter duo to operate a SkyWest Airlines commercial plane together.
When Donna was growing up, her mom working as an airline pilot didn’t seem strange to her. That’s because her dad had the same job, so flying an airplane seemed like a typical thing to do.
Donna even described it as the “boring job” her parents did when they went to work. But as she got older, she began to take an interest in their profession. She saw how passionate they were about their careers and how it gave them the freedom to travel the world.
Inspired by her parents’ love for flying, Donna decided to follow the same career path.
Fast forward to September 2019, Donna was sitting in the cockpit with her mother to operate a SkyWest Airline flight as a first officer.
Suzy was celebrating 30 years at SkyWest when she paired up with Donna, making the milestone even more special.
Captaining airplanes runs in the family, as Suzy’s husband, Doug, and her son, Mark, are also pilots. Talk about a high-flying family!
“We absolutely love our jobs. You don’t see that too much in other occupations,” Suzy said. “None of our kids were thinking about becoming pilots, but when you start looking at other careers that are out there, like sitting in an office, and then see how happy we are – it opened their eyes.”
The photo of the pair smiling proudly in the cockpit went viral in 2020, and Suzy remembers the people’s reactions as one of the most heartwarming parts of the experience.
Suzy said she enjoys working with her daughter and thinks being a pilot is a great career for her as she likes having “variety and excitement” in her life.
“It’s neat having your kid experience what you’ve gotten to experience. She’s part of the SkyWest family,” the proud mom said.
The image of Donna and Suzy sharing a flight deck symbolized a happy and remarkable moment in aviation, especially since many women pilots face difficulties navigating a male-dominated field.
This isn’t the first time that Suzy made history, as she was also one of the first females hired by SkyWest. She had been with the airline company since 1989, living her lifelong dream of becoming an aviator for over three decades now.
Suzy fell in love with the skies after going on her second-ever flight from Arizona to Los Angeles when she was in eighth grade. She was captivated by the sunset as she looked outside her cabin window.
She understood that a dream as big as that wouldn’t be easy to achieve, but she persevered.
The determined Suzy enrolled in aviation school at Mount San Antonio College in California in 1984. She was a flight instructor for a few years before landing her first job at SkyWest.
Suzy said she didn’t experience any discrimination in the cockpit and felt she had access to the same opportunities as he male counterparts.
Any unpleasant remarks came from those who knew little about aviation or commercial plane.
“Outside of the profession, I’ve had to win over people,” she said.
Suzy has become used to seeing the look of surprise on people’s faces when they realize she’s the one who landed the commercial plane.
Suzy said the landscape has changed, and people are increasingly used to seeing female pilots. Most of all, she is glad to have inspired young women to enter the industry with their viral photo.
Suzy also shared that flying is such an excellent career choice for women because it allows work schedule flexibility, which is ideal for those planning to start a family.
“I could volunteer for field trips, parties at school and be that mom, while also having this wonderful career!” she said.
Donna, who recently celebrated the milestone of becoming a captain, often shares snaps of her adventures from various parts of the world on her Instagram page, which has over 39.6K followers.
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