Zoey Williams: First Black Female Boeing 777 Pilot for Air Canada

Zoey Williams


In a milestone for both aviation and diversity, Zoey Williams has become the first Black female pilot to fly a Boeing 777 aircraft for Air Canada. This remarkable achievement is even more noteworthy given her initial fear of flying as a child. Born and raised in Ontario, Williams’ journey to the flight deck is a testament to perseverance and breaking barriers in a predominantly male and non-Black industry.

Williams’ fascination with aviation began in her childhood, influenced by her father, Orrett Williams, a Boeing 777 Captain at Air Canada. Growing up near a flight-training school, she often saw airplanes soaring above, sparking a curiosity that would eventually become her passion. However, her first flight experience was less than encouraging.

“After some encouragement from my father, we drove to the airport and I got into a Cessna for an introductory flight lesson,” Williams recalled. “My introductory flight was during a day with some turbulence. I was uncomfortable and there was nothing to hold onto in the airplane. Being so high up made my knees shake and I felt sick to my stomach. Once the engine stopped and we were back on the ground, I thought to myself, ‘There is no way I am going back up there. You can forget about becoming a pilot!’”

Air Canada Captain Orrett Williams and his daughter First Officer Zoey Williams

Despite this rocky start, Williams decided to conquer her fear. By the age of 14, she resolved to turn her fear into a source of strength and pursued her dream of becoming a pilot. Her determination paid off, and she joined Air Canada as a First Officer on the Boeing 777. In a historic flight in October 2023, she shared the flight deck with her father on AC857 from London to Toronto, marking the first father-daughter flight crew in Air Canada’s history.

Reflecting on her journey, Williams said, “I am delighted to announce that I have joined Air Canada as a First Officer on the Boeing 777. This is a dream come true and I look forward to traveling the world on this beautiful aircraft. Here’s to a long career of new places, adventures, and memories.”

Williams’ story resonates deeply, especially with young Black girls who see her as a role model. “Something just clicks when you see yourself in uniform. You see somebody that looks like you, and there’s nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing young girls, young Black girls that look just like me, come up to me in the airport and say, ‘I didn’t know we could do that.’ Representation is a large part of it, so it absolutely matters,” she shared.

Outside the cockpit, Williams is also a talented singer and a member of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). She is currently working on a children’s book aimed at inspiring young people to reach for the stars.

Zoey Williams’ journey from a fearful child to a pioneering pilot serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration. Her achievements highlight the importance of representation and the power of overcoming fear to achieve one’s dreams. As she continues to soar, Williams is not only breaking barriers but also paving the way for future generations.