From the Hangars

Delta Stories: Patricia "Mother" Malone

Apr 26, 2017

After C.E. Woolman, on the short list of celebrated employees in Delta's history, sits the name Pat “Mother” Malone.


Patricia Malone was born on July 4th, 1924, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She received her initial aviation training through Navy and Air Force programs, and in 1944, was hired by US Navy Waves (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

Mother Malone in Link Trainer

Photo Credit: Mark McDonald

With the Waves she trained squadron pilots as a Link Instrument Procedures Instructor and even kept a detailed pilot’s log book of her students.

After World War 2 she worked for multiple commercial airlines as a Link Trainer Instructor before landing at Northeast Airlines in 1960 to operate their Curtiss Wright Dehmel Instrument Procedures Trainer. She then joined Delta from Northeast Airlines during the 1972 merger as an Operations Specification Instructor in the Pilot Ground Training Department

Pat Malone Northeast Airlines 1960s

After three decades of service, Pat retired from Delta in 1994, and was later inducted into the Women in Aviation International, Pioneer Hall of Fame and the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. It is said that she earned the nickname of “Mother” Malone because she loved to teach and even referred to her students as “my pilots,”saying “Every white hair on my head is a stripe on some pilot’s sleeve somewhere in the world.” C.E. Woolman, Delta’s principal founder and first CEO, said “Quality begins with people,” a statement that Pat Malone embodied perfectly. 

Mother Malone with Boeing 767 The Spirit of Delta when it arrived home to the Delta Flight Museum in 2006. Photo Credit: Winston Whitlock

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  1. Rob Mohar | May 09, 2021
    Back in the '90s, she gave a one-day seminar for any Delta pilot's wife who wanted to know "what made us tick." My wife attended and came back with glowing remarks about Pat, and new-found knowledge on how to deal with a pilot's "unique" personality. She was the best.    
  2. Richard Warner | Feb 22, 2018
    I believe "Mother" Malone probably helped a whole lot in keeping me from making some stupid mistake tht would have earned me a "coveted" FAA Violation. She absolutely knew her stuff. 
  3. Lewis Linson | Jan 23, 2018


    I worked in the training center for Delta for many years.  When she taught a class, the pilots learned the proper procedures in order to survive.  We finally figured out how to get the L-1011 to be safe and reliable in autolandings so we could land them in weather that was not legal for humans to do.  She had a lot to do with getting man and machine together to make that possible.

  4. M papadakis | Jul 13, 2017

    I was f/o on a 727 that mistakenly landed at macdill afb. My captain and I were up for a faa check ride and oral exam. Mom Malone was just about to push back on a vacation trip her beloved Boston. She was contacted by houston chief pilot who said in preparation for the oral test we needed an OPs Spec review... She readily gave up vacation and mentored us for about 8 hours. I am forever indebted... RIP and I am one of her boys that owes his stripes to her effort... Back when Delta was known as " the family"

  5. pete plugis | May 30, 2017


    I was one of 6 drivers that DELTA AIR LINES had to haul engines for grounded air craft


    in 48 states and Canada. On this day my boss D.M. MASHBURN asked me to take a van trailer and go to the Smithsonian Museum to pick up a aircraft. when I arrived the crew to


    disassemble the aircraft where ready for me.Loading and braceing was done with the utmost care.When I arrived at the Delta hanger a crew was excited to unload that


    aircraft.The single seat bi-plane arrive in perfect condition and was hung


     from the ceiling of Delta Air Lines first museum! Yours Truly:Peter Plugis












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