From flight attendant to pilot and fitness coach, Joi Schweitzer has had one incredible career. Not only is she an accomplished pilot, but she is also among an elite group, less than one percent of Black female pilots in the country. Joi also wears many other hats. Outside of the cockpit, she makes a difference in the lives of others as an Atlanta-based health and fitness coach focusing on developing programs for postpartum mothers. She is also a wife and mother.
Even with her busy schedule, Joi takes time to make a difference at home and within her community. She volunteers for a Private Pilot Program by teaching students what it means to fly an aircraft. Her goal is to increase the number of Black female students that choose aviation as a career. Recently I had the chance to sit down with Joi and ask her about her incredible career, ambitions, and what’s next.
KM: You've accomplished so much already. What drives you?
JS: My parents instilled a great work ethic in my siblings and me and taught us the importance of setting high standards. My dad would often say, “No one owes you anything. Success is earned through hard work and determination.” I live my life with this in mind and aspire to be successful for my family and to be the right example for young women behind me with dreams of becoming a pilot or achieving excellence in the career field they choose.
KM: You’re an amazing role model for young boys and girls. What advice do you have for kids or parent of a child interested in aviation?
JS: Thank you! My top piece of advice is to start early. I know a couple of young people who have obtained a private pilot’s license before receiving their driver’s license! I also encourage parents to research and apply for aviation programs started by major airlines such as Delta, United and Jetblue; it’s easier than you think to get your foot in the door. The military is also a great option for pursuing pilot opportunities. Enrolling in college ROTC or attending a service academy will put you on the right path.
KM: What is the biggest change going from a flight attendant to pilot?
JS: The biggest change was the amount of responsibility. As a flight attendant, my most important tasks were ensuring passenger comfort and safety in the event of an evacuation. As a pilot, the training is more rigorous and teaches you excellent crew resource management and leadership skills. I still enjoy interacting with passengers and ensuring they have a wonderful flying experience. It is a surreal feeling to have made it from the back to the front of the cabin!
KM: There isn’t much diversity in the skies. What do you think needs to be done to change that?
JS: Exposure is key to increasing this number. My goal is to use my platform as a woman of color to increase this very small number.
KM: What does healthy living mean to you? What do you recommend?
JS: Fad diets are not the answer. A diet that consists of mostly lean meats, fruits, vegetables and good fats is guaranteed to produce long term results. I believe this is sustainable and along with exercise, you decrease the risk of toxins forming inside the body, creating disease. As a health coach, I encourage my clients to eliminate fast food from their diet and to incorporate the lifestyle I mentioned above. Also, be active! Not only does this bolster your physical health, but it strengthens your mental game too.