Adapted from Aero Crew News
Captain Valerie Walker started her aviation career in unconventional, adventurous ways full of interesting challenges. She was a flight instructor, police aerial patrol pilot in fixed wing and helicopters, DC-3 bush-pilot in Botswana, South Africa, Flight Test Pilot for Plane & Pilot and Air Progress magazines, plus various freelance aviation jobs. She was hired into Western Airlines’ first class to include a female airline pilot and many years later retired from Delta Airlines as a captain rated on the 727, 737, 757 and 767. Throughout her career she pursued her second passion in martial arts and continues to train, teach and hone that craft. On March 8, 1976, she was hired into Western Airlines’ first class to include a female airline pilot. Martial arts and flying have always been her two passions. Martial arts had to be put on the back-burner as she put everything she had into aviation. she built her flying experience as a with less than reassuring equipment or procedural safety margins. In her teens and twenties, the military didn’t accept women as pilots, so her career path was unconventional, adventurous and full of interesting challenges that made her adaptable and able to think outside the box. Later, aviation blessed her with the resources to pursue a variety of martial arts disciplines, and she’s done so for the last 35 years. She became a first-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate while continuing to train in Wing Chun, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Hapkido and Kendo. After 9/11, Valerie was one of 40 airline pilots selected to be in the first class of Federal Flight Deck Officers. They trained with Special Forces instructors in hand-to-hand combat and firearm retention, as well as in law and shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. At that time, she began developing a combination of the best common principles and thought processes from all of my martial arts disciplines. Her goal was to develop a 10-minute briefing for flight crews with no martial arts backgrounds yet who might encounter a terrorist situation. An airplane isn’t a politely scripted martial arts dojo. It’s a place where an unexpected real life-or-death situation can occur which requires us to be situationally aware and employ a few tools that are easily remembered; that don’t require a great deal of fine motor-skill finesse, and are good for fighting in the tight confines of a hollow tube that’s shooting through the air at Mach .82 with its tail on fire with no visible means of support and packed with panicked strangers. Valerie retired from Delta Airlines and still teaches martial arts, still trains, and is still always learning.