According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the aviation industry, Black Americans only make up less than 3% of U.S. commercial pilots across the country. However, one father-daughter is breaking these barriers within the aviation field and is celebrating a long career in it. Fiona Austin-McDonald and her father, Wade Austin-McDonald were bonded over their love of travel and are flying since she was a child.
Wade Austin-McDonald, A Guyana native who is a full-time pilot, was first inspired to become a pilot at the age of 7, after receiving a PanAm jet toy for Christmas.
Since then, he decided to dedicate his life to pursuing a career as a pilot. Later, he had two children, a daughter Fiona and a son, Antoine, who would follow in his footsteps and became a pilot as well. Recently, the father-daughter pilot duo celebrated Wade Austin-McDonald’s retirement after flying 44 years of service. She congratulated her father, Wade Austin-McDonald, on her Instagram account, a happy 65th birthday and also congratulated him on his retirement while flying the friendly skies together.
Fiona Austin-McDonald is a full-time pilot credited her father, who has inspired her career path to becoming a pilot. For gaining industry experience, and working as a flight attendant she used to visit her dad at work when she first saw a woman in the cockpit, which inspired her to become a pilot as well.In an interview, she said, “It feels really good to follow in his footsteps but this job is one where you have to create your own path. It is a very dynamic career and all the work is on you.
No one else can fly for you, do your check rides or perform your duties. His story may also be totally different from mine as a woman in aviation,” The father-daughter duo has been working for the same airline, due to which her father got the opportunity to provide her first-line commercial flight training. Wade Austin-McDonald said, “It was wonderful, I pretended not to be excited as I wanted her to relax and perform her duties.” Fiona Austin-McDonald said, “For me it was epic – I was excited [too] and a bit emotional but masked it very well as we had work to do.
But I can’t shake the memory of being really proud of how far we have come as Black people. I was proud of him, proud of myself as a woman and proud of us as a family.” After that, the father-daughter duo got several opportunities to fly together on various trips.
One of those trips includes the one from their hometown of Antigua to St. Kitts and St. Marteen. Now that Wade is retiring, he hopes to continue in the aviation industry, becoming a flight operations inspector. Fiona said, “I’m just really thankful for those before us who paved the way for him and others to become great pilots and pass it on to others so that the legacy lives on. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for people of color as we continue to learn and be successful.”