A trip Jann Waldhauser took as a child put her on a career route not often traveled by women.
“I flew to California when I was 8 on a TWA flight and thought, ‘Wow, what a great job; these people get paid to fly around,’ ” Waldhauser thought of the pilots.
On the flight, her mom read to her an article about one of the first female pilots at TWA; it was in a magazine she pulled from the seatback pocket.
“I said, ‘Girls can fly planes?’ She told me girls can do anything they want to do,” Waldhauser recalled.
She decided then and there she wanted to be a pilot.
Today Waldhauser, 40, is a first officer with Chicago-based United Airlines flying Boeing 737s. That makes her among the 4 percent of female pilots out of nearly 150,000 pilots certified to fly commercial airplanes in the U.S., according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration. Waldhauser has been a commercial pilot for more than 15 years and worked for several airlines, including Northwest Airlines.
“Flying is the best job on the planet,” she said. “You go to work. You get to do what you love. You get to go somewhere new every day. The view of the office changes.”