Anne Simpson oral history interview



Anne Simpson oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with Anne Simpson and interviewer Dan Hagedorn, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, January 13, 2016.


Retired airline captain and Museum of Flight Trustee Anne Simpson is interviewed about her 37-year career in the commercial airline industry. She discusses her experiences as a pilot for Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, where she flew the Boeing 727, Airbus A320, and Boeing 747-400. She also discusses her status as one of the first women pilots to be hired by a major American airline and describes challenges and accomplishments from her career. The interview concludes with an overview of Simpson’s work at The Museum of Flight, including her involvement in education programs and her leadership role in the campaign to acquire the Museum’s Lockheed Model 10-E Electra.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background -- Early aviation influences -- Flight training -- College crew team -- More flight training and time as a flight instructor -- Career as a commercial pilot -- Challenges as a woman pilot -- Northwest Airlines camaraderie -- Career overview and experiences with various aircraft -- Balancing family and career -- Memories of September 11, 2001 -- Flying the Boeing 747 -- Merger with Delta Air Lines -- Involvement with The Museum of Flight -- Favorite aircraft -- Advice for future generations -- The Museum’s Lockheed Model 10E Electra and closing thoughts




1 recording (1 hr., 10 min., 11 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight





Biographical Text

Anne Simpson is a retired airline captain and member of The Museum of Flight Board of Trustees. She was born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington to William Hunter Simpson and Dorothy Lewis Simpson. Her father worked for IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) and later started Physio-Control, a Seattle-area business. Her mother was a stewardess for Pan American Airlines during the late 1940s.

Simpson matriculated at Mills College (Oakland, California) in 1971. In her sophomore year, she enrolled in flight training as part of a January term project and earned her private pilot’s license in a month’s time. In 1976, she transferred to the University of California, Berkeley to participate in the women’s crew team. She graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and coaching. She also continued her flight training during this time and earned her flight instructor qualifications.

Following her graduation from college, Simpson began applying for pilot positions with commercial airlines. In the interim, she taught flight instruction at Boeing Field (Seattle, Washington) and flew charter and commuter flights in Texas and Oklahoma. In January 1981, she was hired by Northwest Airlines, becoming the third woman pilot to be hired by the company and one of the first 30 women to fly for a major American airline. While at Northwest, she served as flight engineer and first officer on the Boeing 727 and as captain on the Airbus A320 and Boeing 747-400. In 2008, Northwest merged with Delta Air Lines, where she continued to serve as captain aboard the A320 and 747-400. She also served on the company’s pilot selection team. She retired from Delta in 2018 after a 37-year career in the airline industry.

Following her retirement, Simpson returned to the Seattle area and joined The Museum of Flight’s Board of Trustees. Her work at the Museum includes co-chairing the Women Fly program, co-chairing the campaign to acquire the Museum’s Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, serving as the first Chairwoman of the Board, and helping to start Amelia’s Aero Club. She is still an active Board member as of 2016.

Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.