A mother and daughter teamed up to pilot their first flight together — and made history in the process.
Captain Holly Petitt, 53, and First Officer Keely Petitt, 25, became the first mother-daughter duo to pilot a plane in Southwest Airlines’ 55-year history when they flew Flight 3658 from Denver to St. Louis on July 23.
‘It’s been a dream come true,’ Holly said in a statement. ‘First, I found this career and fell in love with it, and then that one of my kids fell into this and in love with this career too. It’s surreal.’
Captain Holly Petitt, 53, and First Officer Keely Petitt, 25, became Southwest Airlines’ first mother-daughter pilot team when they flew together last month
They took turns flying Flight 3658 from Denver to St. Louis on July 23, and the proud mom made a special announcement to commemorate the moment
Holly started her aviation career working as a flight attendant right out of college. After sitting up front in the plane’s flight deck, she realized she wanted to be a pilot.
She welcomed three children and supported her family as a full-time mom while taking flight lessons.
With the support of her husband and mother, she was able to train and obtain the certifications she needed to achieve her dream of becoming a commercial pilot.
Nearly two decades ago, Holly attended a Women in Aviation (WAI) International conference and became interested in working for Southwest.
Holly was working as a flight attendant after college when she she realized she wanted to become a pilot and started taking flight lessons
With the support of her family, the full-time mother of three was able to achieve her dreams, and she has been working for Southwest for the past 18 years
Keely (pictured as a child with her mom and siblings) knew she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps at age 14 after she was gifted a discovery flight
She applied for a scholarship with the airline and scored an interview that went better than she could have hoped.
‘It was the most amazing interview of my life,’ she recalled. ‘Eighteen years later and I’m still giddy to do my job.’
Holly worked for Southwest Airlines while Keely was growing up, and when her daughter was 14, she and her siblings were taken on a discovery flight.
It was a life-changing gift for Keely, who realized at that moment she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a pilot.
Keely went on to get her pilot’s license and interned at Southwest in 2017 (pictured)
Keely was ready to start her career when she graduated from college in 2019
Keely was a pilot for seven years before being hired by Southwest in May
Keely went on to get her pilot’s license and landed an internship at Southwest in 2017, while she was in college. She was a pilot for seven years before being hired by Southwest in May.
‘Southwest was always the end goal for me,’ she said in a statement. ‘There was really never any other option.’
Holly and Keely’s mother-daughter flight is one that they will never forget, and the proud mom marked the day by making an announcement on the plane. Southwest Airlines shared footage of her short in-flight speech with Good Morning America.
‘I’m going to interrupt my normally scheduled briefing here for some exciting news. Today is a really special day for me,’ Holly said in the announcement. ‘I would like to introduce to you your first officer, a brand new member of the Southwest team of pilots, and my daughter, Keely Petitt.
‘Southwest was always the end goal for me,’ Keely said in a statement. ‘There was really never any other option’
‘It’s been a dream come true,’ Holly shared. ‘First, I found this career and fell in love with it, and then that one of my kids fell into this and in love with this career too. It’s surreal’
‘Keely, come on out here,’ she continued. ‘So, thank you all for being here. This is a very exciting day for us, and for Southwest Airlines, a very special day. We are the first mother-daughter duo ever on the flight deck of Southwest Airlines. So thank you for being here.’
Holly and Keely each enjoyed some flying time during their trip last month, according to GMA. Holly took the first leg while Keely served as co-pilot, and they switched roles for the second leg.
‘My whole life, I knew I wanted to fly with my mom and it was just, like my mom said, it was so surreal and so incredible,’ Keely told the outlet.
‘As a kid, I always watched her do her job and be at work, but getting to understand it and see it all again, just the way that she shared our joy with her co-workers and the customers, it was just the perfect day. It was incredible. I could not be more grateful.’