Every little girl should be raised to believe that she can do anything she puts her mind to. But for many, the lack of role models presented in the media and the world around them can make that difficult to truly believe.
That sentiment is what got so many people excited when they saw a smiling picture posted of Capt. Wendy and First Officer Kelly Rexon in March of 2019.
The two women pilots, who flew a Boeing 737 from Los Angeles to Atlanta together, are a rare enough sight already; according to an estimate by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots in 2018, the number of female pilots at the largest commercial airlines in the world only adds up to somewhere between 3 percent and 6 percent of the overall pilot staff.
What makes them even more inspirational, though, is that they weren’t just an all-female flight crew—they’re also a mother-daughter team.
“Just flew with this mother daughter crew on Delta from LAX to ATL,” shared John R. Watret, the Chancellor of the Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus, who happened to be on that particular flight and decided to post about it on social media. Watret is also a pilot and a self-described “aviation geek.”
The photo went viral immediately, with over 18,000 people retweeting the photo and an additional 52,000 liking it. Over 600 people commented on the image, expressing their delight at seeing such an inspirational flight crew—something that Watret himself explained was his reason for posting it.
“There has to be more diversification in the industry,” Watret said, in an interview with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical News. “It’s crucial and one of the key factors we focus on. When there are more opportunities, everyone wins.”
Watret learned about the unique pair who were piloting his flight when a mother and daughter sitting near him asked if they could take a look around the cockpit. He was intrigued when the flight attendant granted them permission, explaining that they would be surprised by what they found—and when they returned to their seats, he heard them talking about who the pilots were upon popping in to say hello.
Watret then asked to go up and visit them himself, and he later shared the picture of when he got a chance to chat with them.
As chancellor of an aeronautical university with campuses across the globe, Watret knew that he had an opportunity to make a difference by sharing the story of the Rexons with the world. So even though he admitted that he’s not a frequent tweeter, he sent the picture off into the social media sphere in hopes that it would inspire more women to get involved in aviation.
Embry-Riddle has been doing its part as a university to make the concrete effort to get more women into aviation. Just before the photo of the Rexons was snapped, the university wrapped up its 30th annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Long Beach, California, and they hosted a “STEM event during Girls in Aviation Day” to give 300 girls between the ages of 7 and 17 a chance to learn more about aviation and how to get into a flight career themselves.
Delta was delighted that Watret shared the story, tweeting out that the pair are “flight crew goals!”
One person’s response summed it up perfectly, though.
“This gives new meaning to a ‘mother talking her daughter under her wings!’” they wrote.