All-female flight crew engineers aviation first

Dec. 30, 1986

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- American Airline Flight 412 may have made an aviation first, landing at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport without a man in the cockpit.

The touchdown in fog at 8:52 a.m. Monday at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport marked the first time in American history -- and possibly in commericial aviation history -- an all-female flight crew was in control both of the cockpit and the cabin of a Boeing 727 jetliner.

About 150 passengers and spectators crowded around Gate 35 to greet the crew, headed by Capt. Beverley Bass of Arlington.

'This is really exciting,' Bass said. 'The flight was fantastic, and the co-pilot ended it by making one of the most beautiful landings ever.'

Bass, co-pilot Terry Claridge and flight engineer Tracy Prior all wore red roses on their lapels.

'It was inevitable a flight like this would happen, and I was glad to be a part of it,' Prior said.

Six weeks ago, Bass became the first woman to win her captain's stripes for a commercial airline.

'Our entire flight crew, including the flight attendants, was made up entirely of women,' Bass said. 'It was wonderful, and I hope to do it again.'

Prior's parents and brother, who live near Washington, D.C., made a turnaround trip from that city's International Airport to Dallas to be with their daughter on the flight.

American officials say the company did not deliberately schedule the women to make the trip together.

'The women arranged this themselves,' airline spokesman John Hotard said. 'Beverly Bass is flying reserve, so she traded flights with another pilot. The other two women got together and worked it out with other crews so they could end up with all seven crew members being women.'

Most women who fly in the cockpit have reached only the rank of co-pilot or flight engineer.

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