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Charting a course to continue the family aviation legacy

Growing up with a grandfather and father who flew for US Airways and a mother who is a flight attendant for American Airlines, First Officer Ellie Gall was destined for a career in the sky. At age 19, she decided she wanted a seat in the flight deck and chose to pursue a career as a pilot. She joined Piedmont’s Cadet Program and is now flying for American’s wholly-owned carrier as a First Officer in the right seat.

When it was time to consider an airline, she recalls learning about Piedmont’s Cadet Program from friends who were already part of Piedmont’s culture. “As soon as I learned about it, I wanted to be a part of it,” she shares. “With the Cadet Program, having the freedom to build time how I wanted meant I could build time with my father, who is now a certified flight instructor, in his airplane.” With Ellie’s family ties to US Airways and American, she says she naturally wanted to join the American Airlines Group.

Growing up in Waxhaw, North Carolina, Ellie moved to Morgantown, West Virginia to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education but while in school, realized her true passion was aviation and decided to pursue becoming a pilot. “I knew my dad would be excited that I wanted to become a pilot like him and would help me any way he could,” shares Ellie fondly. She started flying while in school and by the time she graduated, Ellie had obtained her private pilot license.

She earned her commercial license at age 21 and had a unique experience earning both her private and commercial licenses in a tailwheel aircraft. Her father owned two small airplanes and Ellie was fortunate to fly half of her required flight hours in his planes. In her spare time, she offered discovery flights at several events for Young Eagles, a group sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association. Discovery flights are opportunities to expose future aviators to the world of flight.

As she continued to build her flight hours, Ellie joined the Cadet Program in April 2022.  “I really enjoyed my experience as a Piedmont Cadet and highly recommend the program to those who are looking to pursue a career in commercial aviation. It was a good fit for my career goals,” says Ellie. “The Cadet Program offered so much opportunity for me while I built my time and gave me comfort knowing Piedmont had a place for me when I reached my required hours. I was kept in the loop as I built my experience and felt like part of the team.”

Less than 7 months after joining Piedmont’s Cadet program, Ellie found herself on her second day of flight training being interviewed by CNN highlighting her journey to the flight deck. With the industry shortage of experienced pilots and travel returning to pre-pandemic levels, pilots like Ellie are in high demand. Piedmont offers a rich family culture and industry defining pay and benefits for current and future pilots.

Ellie began flying the line in April 2023 and helps continue to pave the path for other women to pursue a career in the flight deck. She says she knows she made the right decision following her passion.

Ellie is a member of Women in Aviation International, Experimental Aircraft Association and the International Aerobatic Club. Her father taught her aerobatic maneuvers in his airplane, and she has competed in aerobatic competitions. “Routinely flying in unusual attitudes has opened a new perspective of flying for me that I think every pilot should experience if there is an opportunity. It is a challenging hobby that I love that brings my dad and I together.”

She hopes to mentor pilots in the future and says that networking is key by attending professional aviation conferences and events. “Finding a mentor is great; I have a mentor who is a retired American pilot who gives me career advice.”

Ellie is proud to fly for Piedmont knowing that she will the opportunity to contractually flow to American Airlines. “I want to continue the family legacy and make my family proud.”

Under Piedmont’s Cadet Program, qualified pilots receive a $30,000 bonus and have the fastest path to American Airlines. Cadets may build hours when they want and where they want, no further interview required. To learn more, click here.