Lufthansa is celebrating 25 years of having female pilots on its aircraft. “I’m not a trailblazer, simply a woman just loving her job,” says Airline Captain Evi Hetzmannseder on her profession as an airline pilot. All the same, it was a shock when she and fellow female pilot Nicola Lisy began flying scheduled flights for Lufthansa on Aug. 23, 1988. They had previously completed two successful years of training as commercial pilots in Bremen and Phoenix, Arizona. Many other women have followed in their path since those pioneering days. Today, around 300 woman pilots work for Lufthansa: A good 80 of them are airline captains. Overall, however, females in the Lufthansa cockpit still account for only 6% of the airline’s pilots. Lufthansa is making every effort to change this and increase this number.

On her first flight with passengers, aboard a Boeing 737, Hetzmannseder felt weak at the knees, she recalls. Unlike Lisy, who comes from a family of pilots, Hetzmannseder had no familial links with the world of aviation. Be that as it may, she caught the bug about 30 years ago as she watched a plane coming in to land at Munich-Riem. “Up-front in a plane, that’s where I want to sit.” She decided and applied to Lufthansa.

A major milestone for both female pilots, as for all in the profession, was acquiring the coveted fourth strip on their uniform. As the first women pilots trained at Lufthansa, Hetzmannseder and Lisy moved into the captain’s seat in command of a Boeing 737 in the year 2000. Meantime, Hetzmannseder is flying long-haul from Munich. “Seated in the cockpit of a huge jet, like the Airbus A340, is an awesome feeling.” Occasionally in her spare time, Hetzmannseder enjoys playing traditional Bavarian folk music on the accordion.

Women have a long tradition in the history of flying. Raymonde de Laroche was the first woman to pilot an aircraft. She received her pilot‘s license from the Aéro-Club of France on March 8, 1910. Marga von Etzdorf began piloting a commercial Junkers F13, named “Kiek in die Welt,” on the Lufthansa flight deck on Feb. 1, 1928. (