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At Hawaiian Airlines, we commemorate International Women’s Day by reflecting on our roots and looking forward. 

In the 1970s, our airline chose a female face to represent our brand. Pualani has graced the tails of our jet aircraft since 1973 and become so iconic that she often bears no introduction and symbolizes aloha worldwide. 

On March 8, we often ask ourselves questions like: Where would aviation be without the contributions of brave wāhine (women) who pushed against paradigms to set a new standard of equality in the industry? What would Hawaiian Airlines be like without the contributions of Sherry Emminger-DeyKiki Cullerthe RosiesEmelia EarhartLola HiattJo-Ann KomoriKamelia Zarka and her daughtersShannon OkinakaRobin KobayashiAlisa Onishi and the countless other wāhine who have made, and continue to make, their unique impression on our legacy airline?



This International Women’s Day, we’re expressing our gratitude to the wāhine who came before us and those paving the way for others in aviation roles traditionally held by men. It’s nearly impossible to individually thank each of the thousands of wāhine who work at Hawaiian, so we invite you to meet some of our teammates who proudly represent their fellow female colleagues in aviation roles predominately held by men. 

Flight operations runs in Chelsea Chong’s blood. Her mother, the first female air traffic control manager in the state of Hawaiʻi, was “small in stature but knew how to command the room,” Chong said. 

Chong joined Hawaiian Airlines in 2012 as a customer service agent at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. In 2014 she transferred to our Consumer Affairs Office, where she continued caring for our guests by answering their post-travel questions and helping resolve their issues. Later that year, an opportunity to work as an assistant dispatcher came across her desk.

The dispatcher role brought Chong inside our System Operations Control Center (SOCC), often called the nerve center of Hawaiian Airlines, where teams work 24/7 to keep our network running smoothly by orchestrating critical functions like aircraft route assignments, weather monitoring and crew scheduling. 

Chelsea SOCC


“I’m a problem solver and always up for a challenge, so SOCC seemed like an interesting place to be and somewhere I could thrive. I enjoy the dynamic environment and that two workdays are never the same,” she said.

One year after starting her SOCC career, Chong became an international dispatcher who also managed the team’s flight planning systems, and in 2017, her knowledge of the inner workings of Hawaiian’s core dispatch platforms led her to become a dispatch applications specialist. Today, she ensures our flight planning system is updated and maintained with aircraft and airport data, as well as routes throughout our network.

"The advice my mother always instilled in me is to always go for what you want and never let anyone tell you otherwise. I carried her advice with me over the years, and it’s led me to an enriching career in dispatch that I hope more women consider,” she shared.

Carrie Hironaka knew the flight deck was her place in 2011 when she first took her seat in the first officer’s chair of our Boeing 717, the aircraft that serves our extensive Neighbor Island network. Today, she captains the fleet and joins nearly 100 female pilots – 9.5 percent of our entire pilot team – who carry visitors and kamaʻāina to their Hawaiʻi destination.

Carrie - Pilot


Hironaka was born and raised on Oʻahu and enlisted in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard in 2003. When she's not flying our Boeing 717s, Hironaka is at the helm of the Guard's Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, which she has flown since 2007 and knows like the back of her hand. In January, Hironaka was honored as the first female commander of the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard's 203rd Air Refueling Squadron.


“I don’t necessarily like to think about the fact that being a pilot is a predominantly male-dominated profession,” she said. “When people approach me in the airport and say, ‘Wow, a female pilot, that’s awesome!’ I feel a little sad because I wish seeing a female pilot wasn’t such a rare sight.”

Hironaka added, “At the same time, I recognize and understand that it is a male-dominated profession. So many trailblazing women have worked hard to open doors so female pilots like me could pursue their passions.”

“My advice to aspiring women aviators, and just women in general, is to dream big and know that you can accomplish whatever you set your goals to be as long as you’re willing to do the work. And don’t feel like you need to be anyone but yourself…be brave enough to live in your skin and do what you feel is right for you.”

Each day Jaimee Thomson shows up for work at Hawaiian’s Charles I. Elliott Maintenance and Cargo Facility, she feels a sense of pride knowing how far she has come on her journey as a female in the aviation maintenance industry. 

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As an aircraft mechanic specializing in avionics, Thomson is responsible for troubleshooting and resolving avionics-related maintenance discrepancies on both the flight line and hangar aircraft. In addition, she installs wiring and software modifications to keep aircraft in compliance with FAA Airworthiness Directives and required manufacturers’ upgrades. She started her role in 2012 after finishing the Aeronautics Maintenance Technology program at Honolulu Community College (learn about our HonCC educational partnership) and receiving her FAA-certified Airframe and Powerplant license. Thomson became one of five total female mechanics at the company during the time of her hiring. 

“Initially, it was intimidating. I knew I would have to work extra hard to show my coworkers, many of whom weren't used to working with a female mechanic, that I was just as capable as they were. It took time, but eventually, I earned their respect and trust,” she said.

A decade later, Thomson rarely notices that she works predominantly with males. “I feel like an equal. And knowing that I am a valuable part of the team allows my work to be both rewarding and inspiring,” she said. “Looking back, I think what kept me motivated during challenging times was my passion for aviation and the support I received from friends, partners and family along the way.”

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She added, “My advice to other women looking to start in aircraft maintenance or another job in a predominantly male industry would be to not give up. At first, it may feel isolating and defeating, but if you have passion, self-respect, integrity, a solid work ethic, and patience, you will eventually develop the confidence and resilience needed for your success." 

Chelsy Tuiasosopo says flexibility is the crucial ingredient to a ramp chief's success. “We could be in charge of organizing flight pushes, running the bag rooms, or helping and orchestrating an entire team navigating a busy operation,” she said.

Tuiasosopo got her start at Hawaiian Airlines as a ramp agent at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and later elected to take on more responsibility as a chief ramp agent. “You can bid to become a chief, and it’s a role I wanted to do because I wanted to make a difference as a leader. I was named chief in 2022 and really focused on boosting morale and pushing my peers to step up and be the best they could be,” she said.

Chelsy Tuiasosopo
From left: Ramp Chief Agent Ateliana Sooto-Sagaga, Operations Manager Melanie Yamaguchi-Taufaasau (back), Ramp Chief Agent Chelsy Tuiasosopo (front), Ramp Chief Agent Landa Sunia


Working on the ramp can be challenging, but Tuiasosopo says her coworkers have always judged a person by their work ethic rather than gender. “Everyone, male and female, is expected to pull their weight. If you work hard, the support of your peers will follow, and we all feel a kuleana (responsibility) to help each other be at our best. If I learn something, I make it a point to teach the next person. Knowledge and repetition are key down here, and the more knowledge someone has, the stronger we are as a team.”

In reflecting on her 10 years working on the ramp during busy travel periods, under the hot Hawaiian sun and in tricky weather conditions, Tuiasosopo attributes her success to colleagues who’ve taught her the value of “pulling your weight” and working as a team to reach a common goal.

“Gender doesn’t matter," she said. "On the ramp, we work together. We all stand up for each other, understand our shared kuleana, and work just as hard as everyone else. To us, a person’s character and work ethic is never determined by their gender, so neither should their mindset.”