News / Calgary

Passenger's sexist note left on WestJet flight stirs pilot's heated response

Sexists remarks about a female pilot left on a passenger's napkin aboard a Calgary flight bound for Victoria Sunday have prompted a heated response from the seasoned flier herself.

Carey Steacy, a pilot of 17 years who currently works for WestJet, said she was "shocked" when alerted to the message left by someone named "David," who was believed to be seated in 12E aboard Flight No. 463.

David wrote that the cockpit of an airplane is "no place for a woman," and asked that WestJet alert him the next time "a fair lady is at the helm, so I can book another flight!"

Steacy didn't take the comments lying down, posting a heated response to her Facebook page that instantly generated hundreds of re-posts and comments.

"I respectfully disagree with your opinion that the 'cockpit' (we now call it the flight deck as no cocks are required) is no place for a lady," she said. "In fact, there are no places that are not for ladies anymore."

Steacy also indicated the same passenger questioned flight attendants about whether she had an adequate number of flight hours. Reached at her home in Surrey Monday, Steacy said she'd never previously encountered such rude remarks from a passenger.

"I just couldn't believe there are still people in this country that think like that," she told Metro. "It just shocked me."

WestJet was also quick to denounce the comments.

"We take enormous pride in the professionalism, skills and expertise of our pilots and this note is very disappointing," spokesperson Robert Palmer said in an emailed statement.

The note shocked many online Monday, but didn't surprise B.C. pilot Kirsten Brazier, founder of the event The Sky's No Limit — Girls Fly Too!

Fewer than six per cent of commercial pilots are women, so most people have always seen men flying airplanes, Brazier said.

“Anytime people see something that’s not what they’re used to, there’s some resentment there,” she said.

Female pilots “get all kinds of dumb comments from all kinds of people,” but it doesn’t bother Brazier, whose philosophy is to get the job done well.

Yet the perception that only men fly planes can stop girls from considering a career in the lucrative field, an attitude Brazier hopes to combat with her event in celebration of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.

Taking place at the Langley Regional Airport this weekend, it offers women and girls who have never flown free rides in helicopters to spark their interest in the aviation and aerospace industries.

— With files from Emily Jackson

Here is the complete note from David:

And here is Carrie Steacy's full response:

"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."

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