When you ask what it means to be the first female base Chief Pilot in Endeavor Air’s history, Pamela Nucifore smiles and laughs off the significance. To her, she is answering the call to lead Flight Operations at the airline’s New York – LaGuardia crew base; to anyone on the outside, she is shattering stereotypes and helping to change the face of aviation. Pamela Nucifore’s ascension to Endeavor’s Chief Pilot seat may have never happened if not for conflicting messaging she received early in her career.
Pamela Nucifore is a New Yorker through and through. Born and raised in upstate New York, she loved exploring the streets of the city that never sleeps. When it came time to find a college, it only made sense that her love for fashion, food, and festivities at State University of New York – New Paltz.
During her first few years at college, Pamela enjoyed campus life, yet toiled with trying to figure out what she wanted to do for a career. One summer day, after a conversation with a friend who flew professionally, she decided to check out flight lessons between her sophomore and junior college years. One discovery flight led to a flight lesson…a flight lesson led to more lessons…and before she knew it, Pamela found out what she wanted to do with her life.
Fall was setting in and Pamela landed herself back in the Big Apple State for a few months. Visiting with friends and former classmates, the topic of career paths came up. Some friends said they were exploring the medical field, others were talking about fashion design, but when Pamela mentioned she wanted to be an airline pilot, the room went silent. Then the chatter started: “You can’t be a pilot” …. “Why would you want to do that?” … “Women can’t fly” …
“I sat there listening to people tell me all the things I couldn’t be,” Pamela said. “And it fueled me to focus on what I could be. I wanted to prove them all wrong.”
The following spring semester, Pamela found herself transferring to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to refine her craft. She earned rating after rating, built up hour after hour. Once her magical 1,000 hour restricted-ATP minimums were met, she set her sights on one destination – Endeavor Air. She interviewed, was hired, and embraced the idea of flying in her home state of New York.
“Endeavor was the only airline I applied to, honestly,” she said with a laugh. “I knew they had New York City bases, the pay was industry-leading, and the culture was something that I had heard great things about.”
Starting out as a line pilot, Pamela enjoyed the challenge of operating in the world’s busiest airspace. She learned the intricacies of the industry, and quickly sought out ways to get more involved. She applied and was hired as an Assistant Chief Pilot where she got an inside look at the operation. As she continued to build her time in the right seat, she eyed another role outside of the flight deck. As her upgrade approached, she demonstrated her abilities as a leader and was tapped to become the Chief Pilot of LGA.
“Everything I had heard about Endeavor before I started was well short of what is actually happening here,” noted Nucifore. “This airline offers amazing opportunities for those who are hungry to embrace them.”
Pamela’s day to day duties as Chief Pilot involve facilitating crew requests, working with mainline partners on operational challenges, and serving as an ambassador for the Endeavor brand in front of customers traveling through one of the most demanding domestic airports in the world.
“Being a Chief Pilot to me means so much more than just coming to work at the airport or taking out a flight with our customers,” Pamela admitted. “It’s serving as the face of Endeavor in a market that has historically been challenging for other regional carriers to operate in. I may not look like what a traditional ‘Chief Pilot’ looks like, but I am going to do everything I can to ensure my crews and customers have what they need to operate safely and comfortably.”
And speaking of breaking with tradition, Pamela Nucifore knows that she may not fit the mold of a commercial pilot. According to Women in Aviation International, a non-profit organization aimed at increasing opportunities for females in aviation, just over six percent of all commercial pilots are women, a number which Pamela is happy to help change.
“When I walk through an airport and a little girl sees me in uniform, there is nothing more motivating for me than to tip my cap and give her a smile,” Nucifore conclude. “There is no such thing as ‘tradition’ any more, girls can be anything they want to be. We’re here to change the face of aviation.”