February is Black History Month, a time to learn about and celebrate the Black community’s contributions to our country. This month we are highlighting Black pioneers in aviation and sharing stories from within our CommutAir family.
Arielle Gilmore joined the CommutAir family in 2014 as a flight attendant before becoming a training instructor. Today, she serves as the Inflight Supervisor for our Houston base. We caught up with Arielle to talk about her time with C5 and learn about her experience being Black in aviation.
If I’m looking for inspiration, I don’t need to look any further than my Black co-workers who show up to work and get it done and make history just by being here.
Tell us about your role – what do you do at work all day?
I started as Inflight Supervisor in October of 2020 when we first opened our Houston base. Each morning, the first thing we do is address any delays coded to inflight. We look at whether the delay needs to be challenged or if it’s a learning opportunity for the flight attendant or another department. After that, it’s engaging with flight attendants on attendance, sick calls or leaves, and managing policy issues that come up during the day, such as a passenger issue or a question about the Flight Attendant Manual (FAM).
What got you into aviation? Why did you become a flight attendant?
I finished graduate school and was struggling to find a job in international relations. I knew I wanted to travel and see more of the world, so I started to look at opportunities in aviation and applied with CommutAir.
You’ve been a flight attendant, training instructor, and now inflight supervisor. What motivated you to pursue these leadership roles?
My mother was a teacher. I’ve always felt the mentorship bug, but I knew being a school teacher was not for me. The training department gave me that feeling of helping people grow. When we opened the Houston base, I decided to go for the leadership opportunity. It was the right time in my life, and I wanted a change.
Is there a moment in Black history that influenced you or helped shape your career?
I can’t say there’s any one moment. I got into aviation almost by accident and my career has progressed just by me seizing opportunities as they came. If I’m looking for inspiration, I don’t need to look any further than my Black co-workers who show up to work and get it done and make history just by being here.
What’s been your experience being Black working in aviation?
When I started at CommutAir, it was almost exclusively white. The flight attendant group has always been more diverse and, as we moved to jets from the Dash-8 [turboprop], we grew and added more color. I went to a small private college that was predominantly white and now I am really starting to see how much more there is to do.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get started in aviation?
Do your research! I think people interested in becoming flight attendants get caught up in the image of flight crew. But being a flight attendant is real, hard work and being a regional flight attendant comes with its own challenges.
What about advice for a young Black person?
When I was a kid, nobody told us that being a pilot was an option or a career choice. I was at a summer camp one year and a member of the Tuskegee Airman came and talked to us, but it still left me feeling like aviation is for men.
I would tell a kid today that aviation is something you are capable of and it is something you can build your life around and enjoy immensely!