Carey Smith Steacy, a Canadian airline pilot with 17 years of experience, apparently received a blunt and critical letter from a distraught passenger recently. But the issue was not the pilot’s flying style, penchant for finding mid-air turbulence or poor bedside manner.
The issue at hand was the pilot’s ovaries, and the fact that she was not at home doting on children. Where, apparently, she is supposed to be.
"The cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman,” reads a letter written on a napkin left aboard a Calgary flight to Victoria, B.C., obtained by Metro News. "A woman being a mother is the most honor. Not as 'captain.' Were (sic) short on mothers, not pilots WestJet."
The letter further contained reference to a biblical verse and concludes, “In the end, this is all mere vanity.”
The author further said he wished WestJet would warn their passengers when a "fair lady" was at the helm so they would have the chance to book another flight.
The fear, of course, is that the pilot will go into spontaneous labor, putting the passengers in immeasurable danger.
The letter is a shame, not worth the soiled napkin it was written on. But Steacy's response is worth celebrating.
According to Metro, she posted the following Facebook post (no longer publicly accessible):
To @David in 12E on my flight #463 from Calgary to Victoria today. It was my pleasure flying you safely to your destination. Thank you for the note you discreetly left me on your seat. You made sure to ask the flight attendants before we left if I had enough hours to be the Captain so safety is important to you, too. I have heard many comments from people throughout my 17 year career as a pilot. Most of them positive. Your note is, without a doubt, the funniest. It was a joke, right? RIGHT?? I thought, not. You were more than welcome to deplane when you heard I was a “fair lady.” You have that right. Funny, we all, us humans, have the same rights in this great free country of ours. Now, back to my most important role, being a mother.
While only about four per cent of airline pilots are women, the idea that they are "less than" is ridiculous in this day and age.
In fact, the comment is so deafening in its Mad Men-era absurdity that questions of its authenticity are sure to be raised. Such events have been contrived in the past to attain "viral fame."
Last year, a television producer fed the Internet by creating a Thanksgiving beef with "Diane in 7A," claiming he confronted the self-involved passenger mistreated flight staff. It was proven to be a hoax days later.
The case of David in 12E seems similarly extreme. Would someone actually hold, and voice, the opinion that women are meant only for motherhood?
After 17 years on the job, does Steacy really have to deal with such situations?
Westjet has confirmed, however, that they were told of the incident and that they have many female pilots and first officers in their fleet.
“We’re enormously proud of the professionalism, skills, experience and expertise of our pilots, and we were very disappointed to find this note,” a spokesman told Yahoo Canada News in an email.
Apparently, they are not concerned about the dangers of female pilots launching into spontaneous labour. Won't somebody please think of the children?