Linda Pauwels, the First Latina to Captain a Flight, is Now Breaking Boundaries as a Poet

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Photo courtesy of American Airlines.

Linda Pauwels was the first Latina to ever captain an American Airlines flight in 2000. Two decades later, she’s taken up a new passion: poetry, an industry she also wants to lead. 

In 2020, Pauwels released a 50-page poetry book called Beyond Haiku: Pilots Write Poetry. Featuring some of her own prose, she included 40 pilots’ authors and contributions from children of pilots, all between the ages of 6 and 17. In total, there were 18 artists in the book. 

“The book is the first of its kind that I’m aware of,” said Liz Booker, founder of Aviatrix Book Review. “I’ve seen poetry books by a pilot. But I’ve never seen a collection of poems from different pilots, especially with children doing the artwork.”

As many artists have been inspired during their time indoors, Linda Pauwels got the inspiration for this book at the beginning of the pandemic. To no surprise, due to the worldwide shutdown, the airline industry was one of the most impacted, with massive layoffs and many families suffering economic grievances. 

This is why Pauwels uses all the money she earns from the book to give back to the Allied Pilots Association’s Emergency Relief and Scholarship Fund to help families of pilots who’ve been furloughed. Since the publication, she’s raised $2,200.

Pauwel’s journey in this industry has just begun. Her second book, Beyond Haiku: Women Pilots Write Poetry, is set to be released this summer. 

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Photo courtesy of Ready For Take Off Podcast.

Despite her newfound passion, she remains an active pilot for American Airlines. A few days ago, on International Women’s Day, she promoted her second poetry book by flying from Miami to Dallas with an entire female flight crew.

She told the Miami Herald, “I was part of American’s second all-female crew in 1989. The first one was in 1987,” noting that it would bring back memories. 

Pauwels was originally born in Argentina and moved to Miami with her family after losing her dad when she was 6.

She and her family didn’t have it easy. Her first interest in airlines began with her mom working at Miami International Airlines as a traffic and operations agent for TACA Airlines. 

While simultaneously working a full-time job, Pauwels attended school full time and landed her first job at American Airlines in 1988 as a flight engineer on a Boeing 727. 

Another Latina who paved the way for the younger generation and has shown that perseverance will get you far, no matter the obstacle.