Nia I. (Gilliam) Wordlaw, an Airline Transport Pilot with more than 10,000 hours of flight time and over 15 years’ experience, represents less than one percent of airline pilots in the United States, as an African American female. She holds type ratings in Boeing 737,757,767, and 787 aircraft. Nia was featured in the April 2006 edition of Ebony Magazine, the Sept 2015 edition of Marie Claire, and was recently featured in the PBS American Masters Series documentary “The Women’s List.”
Nia, a bicentennial baby, was born in Chicago on March 3rd, 1976 and grew up in the western suburbs, attending Lindop Elementary in Broadview, IL, and then Oak Park River Forest High School in Oak Park, IL. Nia became interested in flying at the early age of 10, initially, feeding her interest by reading books, and later attending Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.
Anxious to start flying, Nia graduated high school after three years, and in the summer of 1993, she took her first Young Eagles flight through the EAA’s Young Eagles program at Meigs Field. That same summer, Nia was sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) to attend their Summer Flight Academy in Tuskegee, AL, where Nia logged her first 10 hours of flight time.
In the fall of 1993, Nia began studying aviation flight at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. The following spring she earned her private pilot’s license, at age 18, enlisted in the Illinois Air National Guard, 126th Air Refueling Wing, and transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where she resumed her aviation studies. There she earned her commercial pilot’s license, multi-engine and instrument ratings, and graduated in 1997 with a B.S. in Aviation Management and A.A.S in Aviation Flight. After graduating, Nia became a Certified Flight Instructor and built flight hours by instructing students and flying traffic watch for KMOX Radio in St. Louis, MO, before landing her first airline job, at a regional airline, flying the Dornier 328 and Bombardier CRJ-200.
In 2005, Nia was hired as a pilot by a major airline and has flown throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, and various destinations in Asia, Europe and Africa. Nia is married to her high school sweetheart, and resides outside of Houston, TX, where she and her husband are raising their son and daughter.