16 Mar 2019, On a warm Los Angeles afternoon, Kelly Jacobson is inspecting nearly every external inch of her 200,000-pound aircraft through the thick aviator sunglasses she fuses with her Delta Air Lines uniform. She’ll be flying the Boeing 757 alongside a pilot she has a lot of hours with outside the cockpit.
Capt. Wendy Rexon (mother) and first officer Kelly Jacobson (elder daughter) are mother and daughter; today is almost like every other day. They have already begun a routine they’ve completed hundreds of times individually but only a couple times together: arrive at the airport an hour before scheduled departure, debrief with the gate agent, walk around the aircraft and a pre-flight checklist so ingrained in their memories it only takes about 30 seconds. Kate Rexon (younger daughter), also a Delta pilot, flies the Airbus A320 for the airline, so aviation is the “family business.”
But not many young women grow up in a family of pilots — Wendy’s husband is a pilot at American Airlines, and she got started at 16. It’s no secret there’s a shortage of female pilots at U.S. carriers. Only 7% of pilots are women, according to 2017 data from the Federal Aviation Administration. Wendy credits programs at airlines around the country, like Delta’s “Women Inspiring our Next Generation,” which promote to young women careers in aviation.
While all three women describe their experience flying together as a “dream come true,” there have been challenges — as there are with any profession.
Here you can meet first mother and daughters airline pilots