Captain Suzy Garrett and her daughter Donna are trailblazers in aviation, an industry traditionally dominated by men.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 2, 2020
Meet Captain Suzy Garrett and her First Officer Donna Garrett. Yes, they are mother and daughter. The duo recently made history as the first mother-daughter pair to pilot a commercial SkyWest Airlines flight together. In fact, the entire Garrett family is a family of pilots; both parents as well as their two children are trained pilots. This is, however, Captain Garrett's second time making history. She was one of the first dozen woman pilots hired at SkyWest Airlines and has been flying with the airline for more than 30 years. The mother and daughter's story appeared online on various social media platforms and has since gone viral.
“We made history as the first mother and daughter crew at Skywest Airlines.”— Hopewell Chin’ono (@daddyhope) November 1, 2020
Captain Suzy Garrett and her first-officer daughter, Donna, are the first mother and daughter pair in history to pilot a commercial Skywest Airlines flight together. pic.twitter.com/8vDT5mHV5z
Captain Garrett's husband Doug is a pilot with American Airlines and her son Mark is building his flight hours. In an interview with the official blog of SkyWest Airlines, the captain shared details about her family's flying adventures. She was all smiles about her job with the airline. "We absolutely love our jobs," she stated. "You don’t see that too much in other occupations. None of our kids were thinking about becoming pilots, but when you start looking at other careers that are out there, sitting in an office, and then see how happy we are—it opened their eyes."
Additionally, Donna shared her story about being raised in a pilot household. She truly knew no other way of life as a young child. She said, "I was exposed to aviation my whole life. I decided to fly because of my parents’ passion and love for flying. They made it so much fun. I got to do a lot of traveling growing up. I was exposed to the world, which was a big inspiration. Experiencing my mom and dad’s lifestyle was wonderful. It exposed me to the possibilities the industry offered." Now, it is her lifestyle as well.
For both Captain Garrett and her daughter, flying is a wonderful career option that offers flexibility and, of course, adventure. "I am super grateful for this job," the captain shared. "We’ve been able to get away from normal life and the house and escape on these vacations to have good, quality time together. It didn’t matter whether it was Germany, China, Costa Rica, or Africa: You’re making memories of a lifetime. My middle child became very savvy and could soon piece together routings for our trips better than I could." Being able to travel with her family is a great bonus too. She explained, "I love it! I really love it. It’s neat having your kid experience what you’ve gotten to experience. She’s part of the SkyWest family. I think it’s going to be a great career for her. She likes having variety and excitement in her life."
Garrett also talked about her journey as a woman in an industry traditionally dominated by men. At first, she said, she would try to hide at the airport. The captain stated, "[Back then] I wouldn’t draw attention to myself at the airport. Believe it or not, I used to hide. The climate has changed; the reaction from the passengers has changed. Today I feel like I can be a role model for young girls who come on board and show them what’s possible. The doors are open: You can be anything!" Her daughter Donna agreed. "Mom being a commercial pilot normalized it for me," she said. "Being exposed to the rest of the world, where things hadn’t caught up yet, opened my eyes. Seeing the world shifting is cool. It’s cool seeing more and more women getting into the industry."
Now, the first officer has some advice of her own for women looking to join aviation: "Don’t ever disqualify yourself or think that there is anything limiting you just because you are a woman. There are so many opportunities to be successful in this industry. Find mentors: other people who are doing what you’re doing and what you’re aspiring towards. Meet other people who are doing the same thing. Finding friends and peers who are going through the same thing you’re going through is extremely helpful. I’m so grateful I have my mom as a resource."