American Airlines has celebrated the career of Bonnie Tiburzi. Aspiring to follow in the steps of her father and become an airline pilot, in 1972 Bonnie applied to every major carrier in the United States asking for a job, and every airline turned her down except for American Airlines. In March 1973, American offered Bonnie a position as first officer. Aged just 24, Bonnie became the first woman to fly for a major commercial airline.

American Airlines has shared an interview with Bonnie celebrating her 50 years as an American Airlines employee. Bonnie shares her experience of becoming the first female pilot at the airline and the first female flight engineer in the world, and credits her mentors – Harriet Quimby and Bessie Coleman – for clearing the way for women pilots and driving her determination to fly.

“By the time American hired me, there was a lot of publicity, and I think a lot of airlines opened their doors and started hiring women then,” she says in the interview. “I was very proud of that. The sky’s not the limit anymore. It’s limitless and it’s filled with opportunity.”