When was the last time you flew in a plane piloted by a woman? What about two women, both pilot and co-pilot? It's possible to not even know since passengers rarely see their flight crews much anymore, but they are up there. Trust us.
Starting this week, travelers on Lufthansa will get to see the very rare occurrence of two women in the cockpit...before even stepping onboard a plane. Famous Berlin-based photographer Kiki Kausch has installed her triptych, titled "A380 Female Cockpit," at the JFK Business Class lounge.
The three images capture two normal Lufthansa pilots, Fleur and Karin, at work in their office, which just happens to be the cockpit of one of the airline's A380 superjumbos en route from Frankfurt to Singapore (LH 778). The photos were actually taken as the plane cruised high above Afghanistan, the ethereal light of sunrise over the Hindukush illuminating the women.
Kausch's subjects are typically famous men—Karl Lagerfeld, Pierce Brosnan and Leo DiCaprio to name a few—but photographing Fleur and Karin to dispel the usual stigma of a male-led flight deck proved a welcome challenge. We chatted with Kiki about this very modern image, and she divulged that not only did she pop into the cockpit for this photoshoot, but also traveled all the way back from Singapore to Frankfurt in the jumpseat.
"The flight was full and I'd rather be up front watching these dynamic women work," Kiki explains.
Fun fact: the female captain here is married to another Lufthansa A380 captain. Together they are the only husband and wife team in the world flying A380s, though they regularly alternate work months in order to care for their two young children.
You can view the massive, original images in this lounge if you're flying in Business or First Class, or if you have Star Alliance Gold or HON Circle status. Eventually the triptych will tour to other Lufthansa flagship lounges around the world.
This brings us to another fun tidbit, as Kiki admitted that Dubai International Airport was on the brink of withholding approval for the photo (women in positions of authority not exactly being the norm there), but after a few weeks of thinking it over DXB came through with a yes.
Lufthansa first welcomed a woman to the flight deck way, way back in the 1920s. That woman, Marga von Etzdorf, piloted a commercial Junkers F13 for the airline. In the modern jet age, however, it took a little longer for a woman to take the controls; Nicola Lisy co-piloted Boeing 737 and 747s from 1988 until 2000, when she finally added her captain's stripe and took the left seat. There are currently 27 female captains in Lufthansa's roster, and many more co-pilots.