Black Firsts, February 2009: Stephanie Grant
ASA Flight Captain Rachelle Jones (left) and First Officer Stephanie Grant (right).
On February 12, 2009, First Officer and Hampton University alumna Stephanie Grant made a routine commuter flight, from Atlanta, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee. The fact that her pilot, Rachelle Jones, and both flight attendants, Diana Galloway and Robin Rogers, were all African American women was a pleasant surprise to all four crew members. None, however, were aware that they were participating in a significant milestone moment in U.S. history.
At the end of the flight, the crew asked the ground staff to photograph them, as a way of capturing this unusual moment. It was only later that they would learn that theirs was the first flight in the history of U.S. aviation to have an all Black female crew.
In a recent interview, Grant described the message that she hopes to convey to any young women who might aspire to be like her: “Fate may have a little bit to do with it, but for everyone that will look at us as role models or look to aspire to be what we are today, they need to know that it was hard work and dedication to get here” (as reported by Michael King of the Gannett News Service).
Randy Burns, staff writer for TheItem.com, describes Grant’s path from Hampton University to the cockpit of this history-making flight:
While Grant had tasted some success, she was ready for a new direction, she said. She earned a degree in 1996 from Hampton University, where she spent four years in the Army Reserve. Upon graduation in 1996, she served as an Army quartermaster officer for almost four years. After a hiatus to spend time with her family, Grant worked for three years as a nail technician in Georgia and Florida.
She enrolled in Ari Ben Aviator Flight School in Fort Pierce, Fla., in June 2004.
For almost three years, Grant held down a full-time job as a job counselor while she continued flight school. She earned her pilot’s license in April 2007. She worked as a flight instructor at the flight school for about six months. In December 2007, Grant was hired by ASA [Atlantic Southeast Airlines].
Atlantic Southeast Airlines has set up a website where well-wishers can send their congratulations to this historic crew. You can access that site at THIS LINK.
Posted by Ajuan Mance