June 16, 2024

Trailblazing aviator Theresa M. Claiborne retires after 43 years in sky

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Captain Theresa M. Claiborne, a pioneering figure in aviation, has officially retired after an illustrious 43-year flying career. Known as the first Black female U.S. Air Force pilot and later a celebrated United Airlines captain, Claiborne marked the end of her remarkable journey by landing her final flight at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Captain Claiborne’s aviation career is a testament to her groundbreaking achievements and unwavering dedication.


After breaking barriers as the first Black woman to pilot in the U.S. Air Force, she transitioned to commercial aviation, amassing an impressive 23,000 flight hours over more than three decades with United Airlines.

Her retirement is a significant moment in aviation history, celebrating not only her personal accomplishments but also her role in paving the way for future generations of aviators. Claiborne’s legacy is one of perseverance, excellence, and breaking racial and gender barriers in a traditionally male-dominated field.

As Captain Claiborne took her final descent into Newark, the aviation community and her colleagues at United Airlines honored her with heartfelt tributes, acknowledging her contributions to both military and commercial aviation.

Her career serves as an inspiring story of how dedication and trailblazing spirit can redefine an industry.

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