Two Hawaiian Airlines pilots this week made history by becoming the first mother-daughter pilot team in the carrier's 93-year history.


Captain Kamelia Zarka and her daughter, First Officer Maria Zarka flew the Pacific skies together on Sept. 1, sharing the flight deck of a Boeing 717 aircraft as they operated a series of Neighbor Island flights. The duo also personally welcomed guests onboard, took selfies with colleagues and encouraged young girls passing by to follow their dreams.

Image credit: Bryan Shirota


"Flying for Hawaiian Airlines with my daughter, side-by-side in the cockpit, was a dream come true for me. I always knew Maria would be a fantastic pilot – she’s always been brilliant and professional – but sitting next to her as she flew the plane with such skill and ease still blew me away," Kamelia reflected.

Kamelia joined Hawaiian Airlines as a flight attendant in 1992 and became a pilot in 1999, which led her to be the first Tongan woman to captain a commercial airline. Maria, who flew with Republic Airlines in New Jersey for two years, was hired by Hawaiian Airlines in April 2022.

Image credit: Bryan Shirota


"Everybody always tells me how amazing it is to fly with my mom and today I got to experience that. She's an amazing pilot and learning from her is learning from one of the best. Now I call her 'Capt. Mom'," Maria shared. 

Image credit: Bryan Shirota


Maria added, "I feel fortunate to have a mom who cares so much and has worked hard to pave the way for other females and me as the first Tongan female to captain a commercial airline. And now it’s my turn. I’m looking forward to continuing my mom’s legacy while making my own mark as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot."