Black History Month - Recognition

ExpressJet is proud of our open and accepting culture. We recognize the value of diversity and recognize that all of our employees contribute to that collectively. In celebration of Black History Month, ExpressJet and aha! are proud to honor the journey and achievements of our FAR 119 Director of Operations,

Hiwot Taddesse.

Hiwot is a first generation American whose father immigrated from Ethiopia. She grew up in California and Washington State, and from five years of age, Hiwot dreamed of someday becoming a pilot, soaring through the clouds and becoming a leader.


When she was 12, Hiwot’s family situation resulted in her moving into foster care, but the next year she discovered the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and became a student cadet. Throughout her teenage years she had the opportunity to fly along with CAP pilots on numerous search and rescue missions and take control of the planes for short periods during flights. Hiwot also became a Student Cadet Leader organizing CAP drill teams and parades, and she also served as Student Body Vice President of her high school.


After graduating, Hiwot’s foster parents did not have sufficient funds for her to attend college, so she joined the U.S Navy – hoping to be part of Naval Aviation. Unfortunately, a college degree was required for the aviation program, but the Navy recognized her superior leadership skills. She was assigned to assist the Commanding Officer at Naval Submarine Base in Bangor, Washington for the remainder of her four years of duty.


Following her military service, Hiwot flew again by becoming a Flight Attendant for United Airlines, where she demonstrated her leadership abilities serving as a Purser on domestic and international flights. But Hiwot’s dream to become a pilot did not fade, and after several years with United, she was able to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science. Following internships with Jet Blue and ExpressJet’s predecessor Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), she was hired as a First Officer with ASA/ExpressJet Airlines. Her long journey and persistence paid off, and her dreams to become a pilot were finally realized.


Hiwot has continued flying as a pilot with ExpressJet the past 16 years. Her leadership abilities have resulted in promotions to Crew Resource Management Facilitator, Captain, Flight Operations Supervisor, Assistant Chief Pilot, FAR (Federal Aviation Rule) 119 System Chief Pilot and most recently FAR 119 Director of Operations. In addition to pilot duties, Hiwot’s current position is responsible for oversight of Flight Operations, In-Flight Operations, Operational Support Center, crew scheduling and training as well as coordinating FAA regulatory compliance and working with related Associations.


Hiwot says always maintaining a positive attitude has contributed to her success, “I’ve never limited myself because of gender, color or the many types of ethnicities in my family, and I think I’ve been able to achieve things by maintaining a positive outlook.

Black History Month, February 2022 - Hiwot Taddesse