First Woman Pilot for Western Airlines
In 1976 Captain Terry London Rinehart became the first woman employed as a commercial pilot by Western Airlines. One decade later Western was purchased by Delta Airlines and she became a Delta officer. Terry is currently flying as a captain for Delta on the Boeing 737 based in Salt Lake City. When Captain Rinehart was first employed there were fewer than ten women flying for airlines in the United States. Today there are about 4,000 women pilots world wide and less than 500 of them are captains. Terry is one of the founding members of the International Society of Women Airlines Pilots (ISA+21) organization.
Captain Rinehart is the daughter of Barbara Erickson London and Colonel Jack London. During World War II, her mother became historically significant as the first commanding officer of the Women?s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), later known as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and commanding officer of the 6th Ferrying Group based in Long Beach, California.
Airplanes and air travel was the family life style. As young children growing up in the Long Beach area, Terry and her sister, Kristy, would think nothing of throwing our dolls and crayons in the back of an airplane and go to grandma?s house. We thought that?s what all families did. To earn flight training time the teenagers sought small airport jobs such as, sweeping the hanger, washing and fueling airplanes . . . no job was too small.?
When Terry was nineteen she decided to become an airline pilot. At the time she had no idea that there were no female pilots flying for major United States airline companies. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Operations from San Jose State University and finished all her ratings. Terry even earned her helicopter pilots license and became Whirly Girl #152.
1997, Captain Terry London Rinehart received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Aeronautics Department at San Jose State University. In 1999 Captain Rinehart was recognized by the State of Georgia for outstanding achievement in Aviation.