Aviation Pioneers

Maria Ziadie-Haddad – The First Female Pilot Of Air Jamaica

The history of aviation has no shortage of many visionaries, pioneers and courageous and hard working people who turned the industry into what it is today. Without the determination and perserverence of countless scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and strong-willed aviators who were unafraid to sail against the wind, we could never be able to enjoy the comfort and convenience provided to us by the aviation industry.

Along with making our lives much easier by giving us a faster and more effective travelling experience compared to land and maritime transport, aviation industry greatly contributes to worldwide financial prosperity by driving economic growth and bringing people together.

None of this would have been possible if not for the effort of dauntless aviators who went the extra mile to make a change in the world. In this blog post we are going to learn more about one of those fearless aviators who made a great impact in aviation despite all obstacles; Captain Maria Ziadie-Haddad, first female commercial pilot hired by Air Jamaica, the company that used to be the national airline of Jamaica until ceasing operations in 2015.

Surely a great example for all women in the workforce to follow, Marie Ziadie Haddad showed the whole world that anyone can accomplish their goals and pursue their dreams with enough will power and determination. She was hired by Air Jamaica in 1979 after completing her training as a commercial pilot and had served more than forty years in the aviation industry until retiring after a long and successful career.
Throughout her career as an aviator, Maria Ziadie-Haddad has received many awards and recognition for her work and she is planning to teach aviation in the future. Now let’s take a closer look at the life and career of Maria Ziadie-Haddad and see what we can learn from her story.

Life And Career Of Maria Ziadie-Haddad

maria ziadie haddad
Maria Ziadie-Haddad
source: jamaicans

Maria Theresa Ziadie was born in Montega Bay, Jamaica in 1955 as the eldest of four children and although she thought that she would go into medicine and studied psychology for a year, she was interested in aviation from a very early age and started following her passion after her first year in college when she decided to take some time off and joined Air Jamaica as a flight attendant in 1974.
While working as a flight attendant for Air Jamaica she decided to become a pilot after attending a seminar that changed her career completely. She started getting her training as an aviator and acquired her license to become a private pilot in February 1978. Right after completing her flight instructor course, she resigned from her job as a flight attendant started teaching and providing charter pilot services.

As her career was already beginning to sound like a success story, Maria Ziadie-Haddad did not want to stop there. During the time she was working as an aviation teacher and charter pilot, she signed up for a course at the Opa Locka Flight Center to get her commercial flight license.

Maria Ziadie-Haddad hired by Air Jamaica

After getting her license as a commercial pilot, Maria Ziadie-Haddad was hired by Air Jamaica and became the first female commercial pilot hired by the company. Jamaica was one of the few countries at the time to hire a female pilot and Captain Ziadie-Haddad still remembers it as the proudest moment of her career and considers it an example of breaking the “glass ceiling”.
She started her pilot training as a Boeing 727 Second Officer on the 5th of March, 1979. Then, she moved to the Airbus 300 aircraft in 1981 and she was promoted to First Officer in 1986. In December 1995 she moved back to the Boeing 727 and began working as a Captain on the 2nd of July, 1996. On the 19th of December 1997 Captain Maria Ziadie-Haddad completed Air Jamaica’s first all-female flight with six other women in the crew, which she recalls as one of the most memorable flights of her career.
After facing many rejections and having to put in lots of effort to prove herself in a male-dominated field, the first female Captain of Air Jamaica finally started to command respect among her peers thanks to her talent as a pilot and ambitious nature fueled by the support that she received from her mentors such as Frederick Carl Barnett.

Throughout her career as a commercial pilot, she travelled all across the world and visited wonderful places, even getting a chance to see “The Northern Lights” firsthand. Among the countries she visited, she considers United Arab Emirates her favourite due to its interesting culture and tasty food.
After Air Jamaica ceased its operations Captain Maria Ziadie-Haddad started working for Atlas Air and continued her career there until her retirement in 2020. Along with her success as an aviator, she is also the mother of two sons and is married to Brian Haddad, who is a Captain as well.

The pioneering pilot is recognized for her many years of work and she has been honoured by the Government of Jamaica, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, the Jamaica Cultural Alliance and Jamaican Women of Florida.
She remembers her years of flying with Air Jamaica and Atlas Air with gratitude and she urges young women who want to work in aviation to follow their dreams and stay focused, disciplined, motivated, and positive.

Final Words

As we learn more about the history of aviation and the lives of people who contributed to this business, it becomes very easy to see that many people sacrificed a lot to make aviation a great and well respected industry that it is today.
Learning more about people like Maria Ziadie-Haddad should help us get a much clearer idea about the huge collective effort that went into making people’s lives easier through aviation and we should be thankful for the hard work and tenacity of those who made it possible.

And even more importantly, we should get this very personal lesson; nothing is impossible for those who dare to try. If there is one thing that Captain Maria Ziadie-Haddad can teach us, it’s that no matter how much it feels like the whole world is working against you to make you fail, you can always work harder to succeed.


Janet Silvera (December 28, 2020), High-flying pioneer rests her wings, The Gleaner, Retrieved 13 March 2021 < https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20201228/high-flying-pioneer-rests-her-wings >
Anon. (n.d.), Maria Ziadie-Haddad, Wikipedia, Retrieved 13 March 2021 < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Ziadie-Haddad >
Brittany Khaleel (January 2021), Capt. Maria Ziadie-Haddad, the First Female Pilot for Air Jamaica is Resting her Wings, Jamaicans.com, Retrieved 13 March 2021 < https://jamaicans.com/capt-maria-ziadie-haddad-the-first-female-pilot-for-air-jamaica-is-resting-her-wings/ >

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