Female Aviation Pioneer Soars to New Height at Airline

Capt. Lori Legat Cline’s latest first as a female pilot is one destined to have a lasting impact on the future of her airline. The Waukegan native and 1979 graduate of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest is the first female pilot to reach the level of managing director at American Airlines.

In her new, additional role as managing director of pilot recruitment & crew accommodations, Cline enthusiastically welcomes the opportunity to find a female and other diverse candidates to fill upcoming cockpit vacancies. This is a crucial time for American and other airlines, she says, considering huge pilot attrition is expected to occur over the next decade.

Cline, the daughter of well-known Waukegan architect Joseph Legat, believes getting an early start is key to recruiting the next generation of pilots, especially females. “If you begin the process at the college level, it’s too late,” she said. “High school, maybe, but it really should start at the middle-school level by fostering an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses.” Woodlands Academy has recently taken an active role in sparking such interest by hosting math competitions and robotics events for area middle-school girls during pre-pandemic times.

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