In an industry predominately ruled by men, Jamaican born Deon Byrne has achieved a” Fait Accompli.” She is currently the pilot of Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the most advanced airplane to date owned by United Airlines.
Byrne was inspired to become a pilot after watching the movie Top Gun, coupled with a chance encounter with Air Force recruiters, according to hemispheresmagazine.com.
“There are not a lot of women that I know of doing this,” Byrne says. “When I used to fly commuters, because I have a younger-looking face than my age, I got comments like, ‘God help us.’ But nowadays, people feel proud.”
At age 13, Byrne migrated to the US to be with her mother. While attending St, John’s University as a pre-med major, she started making inquiries into combing both a medical and flying career. Determined to achieve both, she took a job as a flight attendant to pay for flying school.
“The company I worked for did a lot of charters for other airlines and U.S. military. Whenever there was a hot spot in the world, that carrier would either transport troops or transport refugees. I flew around the world twice by the age of 21 or 22. It was a pretty neat experience” she is quoted as saying.
After receiving her airline transport license to fly commercial jets, she worked for a commuter airline and was on active duty for two years with the New York Air National Guard. Byrne has been the only black female pilot to fly to the Antarctica and South Pole, and was hired by United Airlines after completing her active duty status.
Throughout her career, proving herself has helped Byrne overcome skepticism and has opened doors, including earning a berth flying United’s newest metal, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. “I was one of the first all-female 787 flight crews,” she says. “It’s one of the most high-tech airplanes, and we were flying it. I had beaucoup customers who were very glad to see us. We did a great job.”
With all her accomplishments, Byrne has never lost sight of those who have helped and guided her to achieve her dream. “I still get people who ask, ‘You’re not scared?’ I have to say, ‘No, if I were scared, I wouldn’t be doing this job.’” But, she says, reaching out and giving back some of the mentoring that she has received is part of what makes flying high worthwhile.
Lawd wi likkle but wi tallawah- what a wonderful feeling to see us Jamaicans soaring to great heights! Let mi know wah yuh tink below in the comment section.