Inspiring photo of mother-daughter pilot team goes viral

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

In Australia, just three per cent of commercial airline pilots are women, and in the US, just seven per cent, which explains why this photo of a mother-daughter duo piloting a Delta plane has gone viral.

Captain Wendy Rexon and First Officer Kelly Rexon were snapped on the job in the cockpit of a Delta Boeing 757 last weekend by Dr. John Watrel, chancellor of aeronautical university Embry-Riddle Worldwide.

"Just flew from LAX to ATL on Delta piloted by this mother daughter flight crew. Great Flight. Inspiring for young women," he tweeted after a chat with the pair.

Speaking to the university's news room, Dr. Watrel said that he discovered there was a mother daughter pilot team aboard his flight when he overheard a mother-of-two asking an attendant if her children could visit the cockpit.

"The flight attendant said they could – and that they would be surprised," he said.

When the family were making their way back to their seats, Watret heard them talking about the mother and daughter flying the plane.

"I thought that was amazing. I was in awe," he said. "I asked if I could visit them, too."

He posted the picture to Twitter upon his arrival in Atlanta later that night, where it was subsequently liked 51,000 times, shared 18,000 times and attracted hundreds of comments.

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According to the university, "Watret's shout-out to the Rexons came on the heels of the recently completed 30th annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Long Beach, California Women in Aviation International. Founded by a member of the Embry-Riddle faculty, it celebrates female pioneers in the field..."

It was a case of impeccable timing then, with Watret delighted about the attention the photograph has received, and raising the profile of female professionals in the aviation industry.

He said, "The first officer had a great role model for becoming a pilot – her mother. It's good for aviation and inspiring for all of us."

Of the viral sensation, Watret marvelled, "I don't tweet a lot. On Sunday morning, my phone was blowing up."

The university reports that Kelly Rexon's sister is also a pilot.

Delta acknowledged the tweet, saying the airline is "#Deltaproud" of its "dynamic duo".