Beverley Bass

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Beverley Bass
Beverley Bass

1952 (age 68–69)
Alma materTexas Christian University
OccupationPilot for American Airlines
Years active1976–2008
Spouse(s)Tom Stawicki

Beverley Bass (born 1951 or 1952)[1] is an American aircraft pilot and was the first female captain of an American Airlines commercial plane.[a] She was hired in 1976 by American Airlines as their third female pilot.[2] In 1986, Bass became the first female captain of a commercial plane at American Airlines[3] and later that year she captained the first all-female crew in the history of commercial jet aviation, on an American Airlines flight from Washington D.C. to Dallas, Texas.[3][4] She and pilot Stephanie Wallach founded the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, which began as a group of women aviators but later changed into a program providing career support and mentorship to aspiring pilots.[3]

Early life[edit]

Bass was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida and graduated from high school in 1970. She studied Spanish and Interior Design at Texas Christian University, receiving a bachelor's degree in both subjects in May 1974.[5] Bass cites her aunt, who would park her Volkswagen Beetle by the local airport's chain-link fence so Bass could watch planes takeoff and land, as her inspiration to start flying. Bass' father, fearing losing Bass' interest in the family's quarter horses, refused flying lessons.[5]

Bass started flying the summer after her first year at Texas Christian University, in 1971. She logged her hours at Fort Worth's Meacham airport, spending 6 hours there each afternoon-3-9PM.[5] Bass' first professional experience came when a local mortician needed to fly a young woman's body to Arkansas.[5]

Bass' career in commercial aviation began with difficulty, Bass said: "I was told there couldn't be a female pilot flying executives around because what would the wives think".[5] Bass began flying for American Airlines in 1976 at age 24.[citation needed]

Diversion to Gander on September 11, 2001[edit]

Bass was piloting a Boeing 777 en route from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport when the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred. Due to the closure of American airspace, Bass’s flight was ordered to land at Gander International Airport in Gander, Newfoundland, as part of the Canadian government's Operation Yellow Ribbon.[1] Her experience in Gander during the days following the attacks was one of several people's stories featured in the Tony Award-winning Canadian musical Come from Away.[6] While the Beverley Bass character in the musical is partly a composite character combining experiences of other pilots in Gander at the time, the number "Me and the Sky" is entirely drawn from the real Bass's life story.[7] Bass has developed a close friendship with Jenn Colella, the actress who portrays her in the Broadway company of Come from Away, and frequently travels to see the show.[7][8]


In 2019 she was made Brian Kelly's TPG Awards honoree, and it was announced that his company had donated $50,000 to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots in Bass' honor.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Bass is married to Tom Stawicki and has two children.[6][7]


  1. ^ Bonnie Tiburzi in 1973 was the first woman pilot on an American Airlines aircraft


  1. ^ a b Maxon, Terry (September 10, 2011). "Tales of 9/11: Beverley Bass took a detour to Gander". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  2. ^ Williams, Cynthia A. (March 19, 2016). "Fort Myers native Beverley Bass made aviation history". The News-Press. Fort Myers, Florida. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d O'Kane, Caitlin. "Female pilot honored: Beverley Bass, American Airlines' first female captain, honored at TPG Awards". CBS News. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  4. ^ "All-female flight crew is aviation first". UPI Archives. United Press International. December 30, 1986. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Martin, Lisa (Summer 2017). "'Come From Away' Inspiration Beverley Bass Tells Her Story". TCU Magazine. Texas Christian University. Archived from the original on 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  6. ^ a b Bailey, Sue (June 10, 2017). "Meet Beverley Bass: Pilot inspired performance in 'Come From Away'". CTV News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Paulson, Michael (April 16, 2017). "A Pioneering Pilot, A Broadway Show and a Life-Changing Bond". New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Bass, Beverley; Colella, Jenn; Hassan, Ali (May 22, 2017). The remarkable friendship between a Come From Away cast member and the real-life woman she portrays (Radio). CBC Radio. Retrieved April 1, 2018.