Captain Taylor Montgomery Leads the Way for Women in Aviation

Captain Taylor Montgomery

Captain Taylor Montgomery grew up in Baton Rouge, LA in a family with deep aviation roots.

“When I was a teenager, my grandfather (a retired US Air Force flight instructor) would take me up in the air for flying lessons and my father (a retired US Navy air traffic controller) would be communicating with us on the ground over the radio,” said Taylor.

“The experience of flying was exhilarating, and I knew from that first lesson what I wanted to do after high school. Thanks to my dad and grandpa, I already had a head start on my career!

Taylor enrolled in Louisiana Tech University where she pursed a dual degree in Professional Aviation and Spanish.

“I went to school year-round, taking extra classes over the summer so I could graduate earlier,” said Taylor.

Her packed schedule earned her enough credits to graduate by the age of 20. She thought about enlisting in the Air Force, but being a pilot was not guaranteed, so she went the civilian route, and moved back home to Baton Rouge to become a flight instructor.

“I absolutely loved giving flying lessons,” said Taylor. “As a new pilot myself, it was such a great experience for me and gave me the building blocks I needed for the next step of my career.”

An early photo of Captain Taylor Montgomery with Atlas First Officer Morgan “Allie” Balding.

She stayed in her flight instructor role for three years. During that time, she met her now good friend and mentee, Morgan “Allie” Balding, who had signed up for flight lessons.

“After Allie’s first flight lesson, I was filling out her logbook and she said to me ‘we are going to become friends!’. I made it a rule to never become friends with my students, but Allie was right and as the lessons progressed, we became good friends. She was also my best student!”

After the lessons concluded, Taylor continued to mentor Allie and help her advance her aviation career.

“As a woman in this industry, it can sometimes be tough. You stand out, which can be positive, but it also means you have to go above and beyond to prove yourself. I really wanted to help another young woman succeed.”

After her time as a flight instructor, Taylor worked for a few years at regional carriers, flying cargo for different airlines, before setting her sights on Atlas.

“In 2015, I was training with a captain, who shared that he was about to take a new job at Atlas. That captain was Dave Stillman, who is now a 767 Captain here at the company. He told me all about the company and why he was excited about it. I looked into it, liked what I saw and then made it my goal to join Atlas as well,” said Taylor.

Nearly one year later, in February 2016, Taylor was hired as First Officer for Atlas on the 767. She upgraded to Captain in 2019 at age 29.

It’s not often that Taylor and her husband, FO Shawn Montgomery get to fly together for work, but they love when they do!

Fully on board at Atlas, enjoying her career, colleagues and opportunities, Taylor knew her mentee Allie would appreciate working at Atlas as well. Taylor worked with Allie to ensure all her requirements to join the company were completed.

After working at regional carriers for about four years, Allie joined Atlas in January of this year as a First Officer.

“Without Taylor, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Allie. “From the day I met her, she has encouraged me every step of the way. She’s provided me with direction and insight into all the steps I needed to complete to become a pilot.”

“I’m so excited for us to fly together in the future,” said Taylor. “The last time we flew together, it was in 2012 and we were in a Cessna 172. Next time we fly, it will be in a 767!”

Allie echoed, “I’m not sure I can properly articulate how meaningful it will be to fly with Taylor again. She was with me on my very first flight, and I hope she will be with me on many flights in the future.”

In addition to mentoring Allie, Taylor recently participated in Atlas’ Women of Aviation Power Panel at CVG, alongside Patricia Goodwin-Peters, Senior Vice President, Human Resources,  Lillian Dukes, Senior Vice President, Tech Ops, Candace McGraw, Chief Executive Officer of CVG, and Crystal Korff, President of the Bluegrass Chapter of Women in Aviation, where she spoke to young professionals in aviation and students of all ages about careers in aviation.

“It was so nice to hear other women’s stories and journeys,” said Taylor. “While each woman’s end goal was different, we all ended up where we wanted to be. I think we successfully showed the students that there are many different career paths within aviation.”