The 2021 ESSENCE Girls United Summit brought together young women from various backgrounds who are working to make strides towards the next phase of their lives as students, career women, entrepreneurs, or a little of all three.

In an effort to highlight Black women rising in excellence in the aviation industry, American Airlines introduced us two incredible ladies who are among those proud to be navigating, or preparing to navigate, the friendly skies as pilots and cadets.

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Tammy Binns
As a 737 First Officer for American Airlines, Tammy Binns says she’s never bored on the job. After spending her firs two years of college considering other career paths including a music teacher and speech therapist, Tammy was introduced to aviation by way of an aptitude test and hasn’t looked back since. “The moments that really catch me aren’t really the flying moments,” she says. “It’s the moment where I’m saying goodbye to passengers and a Black mom walks up to me with her kid and she’s like, “It’s amazing, do you see her? Do you see that, she’s a Black pilot. You can be a pilot.” Watch the video above to hear more of her story.

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Gustavia Cartwright
Dreaming big as a kid is something many of us did. American Airlines Assistant Chief Flight Instructor for Coast Academy Gustavia Cartwright dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but her journey has lead her to down a career path beyond her wildest dreams. While working as a flight attendant, a chance encounter with an American Airlines captain ultimately set her on the road to something even bigger. “Being a flight instructor is very rewarding, especially getting to train other female pilots. I remember being in my flight training uniform and it was a pilot uniform……and I just remember a little girl just pointing at me like, “Oh my gosh, she’s a pilot, I’ve never seen that before.” And iit’s just being that representation that….here’s the thing, little Black girls just need to see it.”
Hear more of Gustavia’s story in the video above.

For more information on the American Airlines Cadet Academy, visit

The 2021 Girls United Summit is presented by CBS Original The Equalizer and sponsored by American Airlines and McDonald’s.


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