Mother and Daughter Take to the Skies Together

There is certainly no shortage of kids who want to follow in a parent’s career path, but a mother and daughter piloting together is something really unique. Southwest Airlines recently announced their first mother/daughter pilot duo, Captain Holly Petitt and First Officer Keely Petitt.

Southwest Airlines reports that mom, Holly Petitt, started her aviation career as a flight attendant when she graduated from college. That’s when she realized that she didn’t want to sit in the jumpseat, she wanted to learn to fly the plane. With the support of her mother and husband, Holly became a pilot while raising three children, no small accomplishment.  

Southwest Airlines first Mother/Daughter Pilot duo, Captain Holly Petitt (left) and First Officer Keely Petitt (right) | Photograph by Schelly Stone

As a teen, her daughter, Keely Petitt, realized that she too wanted to become a pilot. After much hard work she earned her wings and got a job with Southwest as a pilot, making Keely and her mom Southwest’s first ever mother/daughter pilot duo.

On July 13, 2020 Holly posted,

Today is a very special day as “my little peanut” takes flight with her brand new set of Southwest Airlines Pilot wings!  Beyond proud of you little lady!! Can’t wait to take to the skies together!! 

And then right before their first flight, mom posted,

The much anticipated maiden voyage as the first mother-daughter team at Southwest Airlines has arrived! It’s been a very emotional morning for me. One moment you are holding this tiny little premature baby in your arms and in a blink of an eye, she is sitting next to you on the flight deck of a Boeing 737 jet! I love you to the moon and back, Keely Petitt!

Holly uses the word surreal a lot which is how it feels when you love what you do and find out that your daughter wants to do it as well. On their first flight together Holly introduced her daughter to the passengers and said of the feeling that “words can’t do it justice.” 

As for Keely, she says she feels so fortunate to have had her mom as a role model and she just can’t wait to fly with her mom again, anywhere, anytime. 

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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