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SBA Commissioner Capt Karen Kahn Receiving the FAA’s Highest Honor

Post Date:03/03/2020 1:00 PM

Airport Commissioner and long-time community member, Captain Karen M. Kahn will receive the esteemed Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award on March 3rd at 5:30 pm in the Historic Terminal of the Santa Barbara Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration’s most prestigious award is bestowed upon federally certified pilots who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as a "Master Pilot."

“It is with great honor that we celebrate Captain Kahn’s landmark achievement,” says Santa Barbara Airport Director, Henry Thompson. “Captain Kahn has reached the highest level of honor for a U.S. pilot. She is truly a leader and we are proud to call her one of our own.”

Captain Kahn spent more than 35 years at 30,000 feet with her passengers’ lives safely in her hands. She embodies confidence, determination, and professionalism. Notably, she was one of the very first female pilots ever to be hired by a U.S. commercial airline, then Continental Airlines. Since her retirement from commercial aviation, she has been working as a youth activist with a local non-profit, A Different Point of View (ADPOV), helping to advance the lives of “at-promise” youth and young women through exposure to the field of aviation. “When youth see Captain Kahn in her captain's uniform and she engages with them, they receive the lasting message that the sky really is the limit,” says Ali Cortes, ADPOV Executive Director. “At each step of her career, she trailblazed paths for aviators of all kinds to achieve their goals. She continues doing this with every young person who has the chance to meet her.”

Prior to beginning her commercial airline career in 1977, Captain Kahn gave flight instruction at Sierra Academy in Northern California, and operated her own weekend ground school instructing private, commercial and instrument courses. She previously held ratings as an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), including type ratings on the Boeing 757/767 and McDonnell-Douglas MD-80. She was the first woman to be type-rated in a Lockheed JetStar. Her other ratings include: Certificated Flight Instructor Single Engine and Multi-engine Instructor, Flight Engineer, Turbojet, Seaplane, Helicopter, and the coveted Master Certificated Flight Instructor (MCFI) designation from the National Association of Flight Instructors.

The celebration of Captain Kahn’s achievement will be hosted by A Different Point of View (ADPOV), which she has supported since its inception in 2012.  ADPOV aligns with her values and mission to engage, inspire, and transform local youth using aviation experience as a launching pad.

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