First all-female crew to fly UPS plane at Thunder

All-female crew leads UPS Thunder plane

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It's a UPS Boeing 757, just like many other aircraft flying in and out of the UPS World Port facility, but this one is ready to make history.

"I feel very proud to be a part of it, and it's groundbreaking, and it's great to be a role model and set this example," Deborah Donnelly-McLay, an airline captain, said.

It's not the aircraft itself that is so special. It's the people. From those who will be sitting in the cockpit to the mechanics working on the exterior, those who will fly this plane Saturday make this plane the first of its kind in Thunder history.

"You put in the work and it will pay off. And we've put in a lot of work," Stella Burton, an aircraft mechanic, said.

The crew will be the first UPS crew flying in Thunder Over Louisville comprised of all women.

"We are showing the world that we can do this," aircraft maintenance supervisor Lornna Ruble said. "We are as well-prepared as the guys are."

For Ruble and other crew members, the preparations may make this Saturday seem like just another flight, but there is a different feeling.

"It is kind of doing our job, but I actually had to think about it because it doesn't happen often," she said. "Usually all of our female mechanics here have a partner that is male."

Most people watching the air show Saturday will not be able to actually see the women seated in the cockpit, but these seasoned veterans of the sky are hoping to serve as role models for girls looking to break into a male-dominated field.

"If you went back 20 years, I would suggest to you we've more than doubled the number that were out there before," Frances Perryman, the assistant chief pilot, said.

"I've never dreamed I'd be a part of this, so it's a great, great honor," Sherri Roberts, the flight control manager, said. "Hopefully we can encourage some young girls to get into the aviation business. If we can do that, we've met our goal."

"I believe if you have that passion and drive, anybody can do anything," Donnelly-McLay said.

"If you know what you want to do and you pursue it and pursue it the best you can, then you can succeed," Roberts added.

For this team of women, Saturday's air show will be another flight in their logs, but it will also serve as a testament to what can happen when you reach for the sky.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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