Female pilot in 'shock' after passenger leaves sexist note
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:44AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 1:37PM EST
A female WestJet pilot says she was in “shock” after a passenger left behind a note following a weekend flight to say that the cockpit is “no place for a woman.”
Crew cleaning the aircraft found a note, written on a napkin and signed by "David," after passengers deplaned from the Calgary to Victoria flight on Sunday.
In addition to suggesting that women don’t belong at the controls of an airplane, the note also said that “A woman being a mother is the most honour, not as ‘captain.’”
“PS I wish Westjet (sic) could tell me a fair lady is at the helm so I can book another flight,” David went on. On the back of the napkin, David wrote that he was “not impressed,” and signed it “Respectfully in love, David.”
Carey Steacy, who has been a pilot for 17 years and has been flying with WestJet for more than nine, says her first reaction to the note was “shock.”
“It made me feel sad. It was just surprising,” Steacy told CTV Vancouver. “I can’t believe that there’s people that still think that way.”
The female flight attendants and her male co-pilot all had the same reaction. “All of us had our mouths open in shock,” she said. “We didn’t know what to say.”
Steacy took to Facebook not only to rebut David’s antiquated view of women, but also his airline terminology: the cockpit is now referred to as the flight deck.
"You were more than welcome to deplane when you heard I was a 'fair lady,' Steacy wrote on Facebook. "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.”
Steacy told CTV that she felt she had to "respond to his opinion. He absolutely has his right to his opinion and I have a right to disagree with it.”
Steacy said she has received widespread support since posting the note and her rebuttal to Facebook.
“I have to think that’s very much an uncommon opinion among the general public,” she said.
Steacy said she has never seen anything like the note left for her, she has heard “the odd comment in jest, usually in jest.
“That’s the only time I’ve ever seen something as raw as that.”
But she acknowledges that it is still a shock for some people to see a female pilot, because far fewer women than men choose to pursue a flying career.
“Almost every day people I find are a little bit surprised, and I think it’s just because women aren’t enrolling in flight schools -- not because they’re not being hired, but because they’re not enrolling in it,” Steacy said.
“Either it’s because they don’t think they can or they have been told that it’s not for women or that they can’t do it. And I just hope that that mindset can change, like it has in a lot of professions.”
As for David’s comment about motherhood being the highest honour, Steacy said she agrees.
“I have two beautiful children, it is the highest honour.”
Here is Steacy's full rebuttal on Facebook:
“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.”