After graduating from Garrison Forest, Charlotte Lieberman Rayburn ’91 went on to the University of Georgia to earn two B.A.s in English and journalism. She initially worked as a copy editor but started flying in 1998 and never looked back. Charlotte achieved all of her flight ratings and began her first airline job in 1999. She worked her way through the regional airline and private charter worlds and was able to secure a first officer position with Delta Air Lines in 2008. Currently, Charlotte is a captain on the Boeing 757 and 767 based in N.Y.C.
Q: Think back to what you wanted to do when you were younger. Is it what you’re doing now?
In the back of my head, I always wanted to be a pilot. I remember looking at boarding schools in the eighth grade and Garrison had a flight lesson program. The program wasn’t running when I got there, but it was one of the reasons I picked Garrison. In college, I looked at ROTC, but I wore glasses so I knew I could not be a military pilot at the time. I didn’t know any other way to become a pilot. It wasn’t until I took my first lesson I found out that I could fly for a living even with my glasses. I also always wanted to write a great novel, but I suppose I still have time left.
Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
If I am being totally honest, coffee and an early bedtime get me up in the morning. But what keeps me up is loving what I do when I am at work and where I live when I am home. While I may have flown from Seattle to JFK a million times, each flight is always different and that keeps me motivated.
Q: What are you most proud of?
When I started at Delta Air Lines, I was one of less than 4 percent of female pilots there and now we are up to 7 percent. I know there are so many people that came before me that made that happen and so many people now working to increase our presence. But I am proud to be one of them, out there showing other women and young girls that we belong on the flight deck too.
Q: Describe your Garrison experience in one word.
One word? That’s hard. Self-confidence or independence; that’s what I learned at GFS.
Q: If you could give a graduating Senior one piece of advice, what would it be?
Try really hard to remember that everyone else is so wrapped up in their own issues that no one is noticing the things that plague your own insecurities.
Q: What are you most looking forward to?
My husband and I love to travel. We are headed to Iceland this June (2023) and Provence for a month in September. And we have countless other trips planned. There is so much of the world left to see … all of it!
This article was originally published in the 2023 Garrison Forest Magazine.