A Colorado county airport will bear the name of a history-making pilot after local officials voted to honor her pioneering aviation career.
Colorado’s Granby/Grand County Airport will be known as Granby/Grand County Airport-Emily Warner Field. Warner, of nearby Denver, is known for a stellar aviation career marked by her becoming the first woman pilot hired by a major U.S. airline, in 1973. Three years later, on June 6, 1976, she became the first U.S. woman airline captain.
Warner, now 75 and retired, also was a flight school manager, a flight instructor, and designated pilot examiner. She has flown more than 21,000 hours and given more than 3,000 checkrides.
In a January 2014 feature on Emily Howell Warner, AOPA reported on her determined path from receptionist and student pilot up the aviation career ladder—noting that she was to be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in October. In 2001, she had been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
After her trailblazing tenure at Frontier, she flew for Continental Airlines, UPS, and as an FAA aviation safety inspector. Warner’s Frontier Airlines pilot’s uniform is on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Other honors included her commanding the first all-women flight crew, and being the first woman pilot to become a member of the Air Line Pilots Association.
Bill Hamilton, AOPA’s former central regional representative, is a friend of Warner, and was among the many members of the aviation community who urged the Grand County Board of Commissioners to amend the airport’s name to include Warner’s.
The commissioners approved a resolution effecting the name change on Dec. 9. The airport is located west of Denver’s Class B airspace, has a 5,000-foot-long runway, and sits at an elevation of 8,207 feet.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Hamilton described Warner as a "living legend of aviation," and noted his pride at possessing a pilot logbook with entries penned by Warner.
Following their vote, the commissioners directed that the resolution to change the airport’s name be framed, and that a date be chosen for a celebration of the airport’s redesignation to honor Warner, who taught numerous pilots to fly from Granby.
"With great skill, grace, wit and perseverance, Emily paved the way for the thousands of women pilots that have followed," notes the biography of Warner posted by the National Aviation Hall of Fame to mark the occasion of her induction. It added, "Today, Emily continues to inspire and serve as a mentor to young people, especially those in aviation."