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mom daughter copilot, southwest mom daughter pilot

Like mother like daughter.

Dreams come in many shapes and sizes. For Keely Petitt, it was a vision of becoming a pilot just like her mom, Captain Holly Petitt. That wish recently came true, and was made all the more special as mom and daughter took to the skies together.

A statement released by Southwest Airlines shared that Holly began as a flight attendant fresh out of college, where she first discovered her passion for flying. She pursued getting certified and taking flight lessons all while being a full-time mom, and her children quite literally grew up around the "ups and downs" of aviation life.



Keely knew she wanted to follow her mother's footsteps at the age of 14—earning her pilot license and landing an internship for Southwest in 2017.

Though working for Southwest has “always been the end goal” for Keely, she had no idea that on July 23 she would end up co-piloting Flight 3658 with her mom, Holly. The mother-daughter duo flew together from their home town of Denver, Colorado, to St. Louis, Missouri—a historic first for the airline.

“They're breaking barriers and empowering women of all ages to pursue their dreams in aviation, and pun intended, reach for the skies,” Southwest wrote.

As for Captain Holly, having her daughter as first officer has been a “dream come true.”

"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,” she reflected.


Holly posted a touching message on her Facebook, sharing how much the moment meant to her.


“The much anticipated maiden voyage as the first mother daughter team at Southwest Airlines has arrived! It’s been a very emotional morning for me. One moment you are holding this tiny little premature baby in your arms and in a blink of an eye she is sitting next to you on the flight deck of a Boeing 737 jet! I love you to the moon and back, Keely Petitt!” the captain read, alongside a photo showing Holly and Keely smiling in their matching uniforms.

Though having a mother-daughter pilot team is a first for Southwest, this is not the first story of its kind. Back in 2020, Captain Suzy Garrett and her First Officer Donna Garrett became the first mother-daughter pilot pair for SkyWest Airlines.

That doesn’t make this occasion any less heartwarming, though. And if moms and daughters co-piloting is becoming a trend, we’re more than ready to see it take off.

But why stop there? Alaska Airlines also recently announced that identical twin brothers finished flight simulation training and have plans to fly together as well. Piloting can quite easily become a family business, it seems.

Congratulations to Keely and Holly for pursuing their dreams and making our hearts soar. You’re proving that perhaps the sky isn’t the limit after all.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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