Women Who Fly

Portraits of female pilots

Patrice Clarke-Washington, Captain

(Carolyn Russo)

Seated on her flight bag at the United Parcel Service operation base, Louisville, Kentucky, 1995.

“I wanted to fly airplanes because I wanted to travel and see the world. That’s the only focus I’ve ever had, and that’s still the way it is for me. I remember my first day at Embry-Riddle [Aeronautical University]. I was basically in a state of shock. I was pulling into the campus in a taxi. Of course, school hadn’t started yet, so there’s not a whole lot going on, and it’s wintertime and it’s gray out. I remember sitting in the back of this taxi, thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ But anyway, I got enrolled in school and did what I had to do….

I started as a flight engineer on the DC-8, upgraded to first officer, now captain on the DC-8. For us, as pilots, captain is the top of the line. So I’m a captain, I’m flying a big airplane, one of the bigger airplanes. I have the option of flying to many international destinations, which is what I wanted. I expect another twenty-seven years in the industry, but, yes, I’ve reached my goal, and UPS did it for me.”

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