At 27, Zoey Williams is Air Canada’s first Black female pilot to fly a Boeing 777

Abu Mubarik February 22, 2024
Photos: Linkedin/Zoey Williams

Get to know Zoey Williams, who is the first Black female pilot to fly a Boeing 777 for Air Canada. A daughter of a pilot, her childhood was characterized by travels across the world, growing up in places like Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Doha, Qatar; Trinidad and Tobago; and London, England.

Due to her childhood experience traveling around the world, becoming a pilot seemed like a natural course, however, she was initially hesitant about going into piloting. She opted to pursue the engineering side of aviation because she did not like the sporadic schedules of airline pilots, she told Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

However, things changed after she took an introductory flight in a Cessna as a teenager. According to Williams, the idea was suggested by her dad, Orrett Williams, a Boeing 777 captain at Air Canada.

“I had travelled commercially and at the airline level as a passenger for my whole life. But in that small plane, I was terrified. My knees were shaking, it was bumpy, and my hands were sweating. I went home, and I said, ‘I’ll never do that again,’” she told Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

After that terrifying experience, she said she did some soul-searching and decided to conquer her fears by pursuing flight training.

“I did my recreational pilot permit in high school, and through the process of flight training, I went from ‘terrified,’ to ‘this is alright,’ to’really loving it.’ That’s what pivoted everything from aerospace engineering into flying.”

By age 19, Williams was a certified flight instructor before going on to teach college-level aviation lecture courses while building her flight time through airborne flight instruction. She subsequently earned her A.S. in Aeronautics from Embry‑Riddle in 2018 and went on to work on her B.S. in Aeronautics.

Today, the 27-year-old has four college degrees, three from Embry‑Riddle. Before joining Air Canada, she performed many roles in the aviation industry, including flying the Beechcraft 1900, becoming a First Officer on the Embraer 175 for Sky Regional Airlines, and later being called to Air Transat.

While pursuing an MBA in Aviation program, she also started a short-term rental business and did a lot of odd jobs to “get my footing in the business world”, she said.

As Air Canada’s first Black female pilot and a Boeing 777 First Officer, she has been featured in videos by Air Canada and the Elevate Aviation 2023 Women of Inspire. The Ontario, Canada native was also selected among the Top 20 Under 40 by Wings Magazine.

As a Boeing 777 first officer at Air Canada, she often shares the flight deck with her dad, Captain Williams. Besides flying, Williams is a singer and songwriter as well as an author behind the book, Go Where You Belong, which is being published in English and French to inspire “little girls” that they could fly too.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 22, 2024


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