Southwest’s First Mother/Daughter Pilot Duo Takes Flight


Since our inception, Southwest Airlines has had a passion for putting People first. From our revolutionary beginning, through unparalleled growth and great success, we've always focused on People. We're committed to providing our Southwest Family a work environment where they can be themselves and be recognized for the unique perspectives they each bring forward.

That's why we're excited to share this unique story of Southwest's first-ever mother/daughter Pilot duo, Captain Holly Petitt and First Officer Keely Petitt.

Southwest Airlines first Mother/Daughter Pilot duo, Captain Holly Petitt (left) and First Officer Keely Petitt (right)
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines Co. | Schelly Stone

Holly Petitt started her aviation career fresh out of college as a flight attendant working for another carrier. After riding the jumpseat in the flight deck, she realized she wanted to learn to fly planes. She then got to work training and obtaining her certifications. Holly welcomed three beautiful kids and took flight lessons while supporting her family as a full-time mom. With the help of her amazing support system (her husband and mother), she was able to pursue her dream of being a pilot.

Naturally, Holly's daughter, Keely Petitt, grew up around the Southwest Family and became an extension of it. At 14, Keely and her siblings received the gift of a discovery flight. In that moment, she realized she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a pilot. Keely began to pursue her passion for flying airplanes, earning her pilot's license, and even landed an internship at Southwest in fall 2017. Our Campus Reach Internship Program created a runway for Keely to learn more about a career in aviation.

Keely loved everything about Southwest from the Culture, to flying, to everything in between, and made it her goal to come back. "Southwest was always the end goal for me," said Keely. "There was really never any other option." After working hard and keeping in touch with her Cohearts, she was able to find her way back to Southwest as a Pilot, making her and her mother Southwest's first mother/daughter Pilot duo!

Southwest Airlines first Mother/Daughter Pilot duo, Keely (left) and Holly (right) Petitt
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines Co. | Schelly Stone

On Saturday, July 23, Holly and Keely Petitt flew their first Southwest flight together, on Flight #3658 from Denver, where the two are from, to St. Louis, making history for Southwest Airlines.

Holly and Keely Petitt celebrating their first flight together
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines Co. | Schelly Stone

"It's been a dream come true," said Holly, "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." 

Our People are the Heart of Southwest. We want to ensure we're equipping our Employees so they have a career with Heart and Purpose. Not only are Holly and Keely making Southwest history, but also they're breaking barriers and empowering women of all ages to pursue their dreams in aviation, and pun intended, reach for the skies.

Holly and Keely Petitt making Southwest history on Flight #3658 from Denver to St. Louis
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines Co. | Schelly Stone

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