American Airlines Captain Esther Horn Makes History

First Female Pilot for World`s Largest Airline to Retire at Age 60 Flies Her Final Trip

FORT WORTH, Texas - At 26, Esther Horn of Los Angeles found herself alone to raise three children. While supporting her family as a manicurist, she put aside thoughts of pursuing her dream of flying airplanes. It didn`t seem practical at the time; but at 29, she finally took her first lesson - just for fun.

Fun turned into passion and finally to a life-long profession through a lot of determination and - if only in part - with the help of some cutting words from one of her first flight instructors. He told her, “if you don`t finish this course and get your license, I`m never going to teach another female.” In 1971, she flew her first solo flight in a Cessna 150 from Torrance Airport, Calif. She received her pilot`s license in 1972, and, herself, became a flight instructor.

In 1979, she became the 11th female pilot hired by Western Airlines, and was hired by Air California as a first officer on the Boeing 737 two years later, where she first made captain.

After American Airlines acquired AirCal in 1987, she flew the Boeing 757 and 767 as a first officer, based in San Diego. She moved on to captain of the MD-80 then to captain of the Boeing 757 and 767, from which she retires on Wednesday.


Captain Horn also is an accomplished artist. Her oil paintings have been displayed in the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and in the San Diego Museum of Art.

Captain Horn and her husband, Jim, live in Southern California. She has three children, six grandchildren, and a boxer - Budee.

She will fly her final trip on Wednesday, March 27, from Las Vegas to Dallas-Fort Worth, then on to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif.