A man who will soon become an American Airlines captain has revealed the hard work done in the aviation industry to make it better for LGBTQ staff.

David Pettet was just 19 when he started his career flying for a small airline, before joining America’s biggest airline in 2008.

He soon discovered the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) and was very quick to join it.


NGPA is a group of pilots and allies who work to support the LGBTQ aviation community across the world.

Because of this, he found the support to build on that passion.

He said: “The organization was a foundation and support network, both personally and professionally, helping me navigate my own coming out and helping me build the confidence to be my genuine self while at work.

“It really provided the support, resources, contacts and networking opportunities I needed to land my dream job as a pilot for American Airlines.

He will soon become a captain for the airline.

Initially, he joined as its youngest board member and worked his way up to NGPA President from 2014 to 2020.

In that time, he saw the industry and the community evolve.

David said: “NGPA was much smaller when it first started in the ’90s.

“The NGPA’s first events consisted of just a few dozen members only using first names and identifying themselves by wearing an aviation-related shirt for fear of losing their airline jobs or military careers.

“The work the founding members did then was critical to the future of the organization and pilot career field. We’ve come a long way.”

While he was president, he aided the organization go from just a few hundred members with a small yearly budget of $100,000 tohaving several thousand members worldwide with $1.3 million in funding.

The group built strong relationships with industry leaders, giving members the ability to provide scholarship awards throughout the year.

David added: “There’s no better way to give back to the aviation community than providing youth, students and professionals with the financial resources to fuel their dreams.”

The manager of Pilot Recruiting at American, Brad Morrison, added: “We’re working hard to grow the pilot population and remove barriers for prospective pilots, while creating greater diversity amongst the future and current pilot ranks, our goal is to bridge that gap between a student’s or young aviator’s dream to be a commercial aviation pilot by connecting them with financing opportunities for flight school through the American Airlines Cadet Academy program and gatherings like the Winter Warm-Up.

“We’re honored to be invited to such a great networking event led by the LGBTQ aviation community.”

Brad Morrison and the Pilot Recruiting team at this year’s Winter Warm-Up

David has done various other things to promote American Airlines’ diversity efforts such as volunteering with PRIDE.

PRIDE is one of American’s Employee Business Resource Groups.

Recently, David teamed up with PRIDE and planned an entire flight staffed by all-LGBT American Airlines crew to jump-start the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

He said: “I know I speak on behalf of my fellow NGPA members who also fly for American when I say we couldn’t be prouder of American’s presence at the NGPA event this year.”

“This company’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace — and continued focus on the future and growth of the pilot profession — is truly unmatched.” 

Like anything, there’s still progress to be made but it’s flying in the right direction.

American Airlines has announced its advancement and goals concerning its companywide diversity, equity and inclusion journey.

Overall, David is thrilled with the changes he’s seen throughout the years thanks to the recruiting efforts and the support shown by American Airlines leadership team.

Pettet’s final words are: “As a pilot in the LGBTQ community, it is no surprise to me why we’re the only airline given a perfect score for the 20th year in a row by the Human Rights Campaign and titled “one of the best places to work.”

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