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This story originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of TCU Magazine.

A lifetime of pursuing her passions put Beverley Bass ’74 on course for breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes and making history, even though she never set out to do any of those things.

Beverley Bass has charted a groundbreaking career as a pilot.

Beverley Bass has charted a groundbreaking career as a pilot. Photo Courtesy of Beverley Bass

The retired pilot instead credits the significant events of her career — becoming the first female captain for American Airlines and a momentous 9/11 experience that shaped a hit Broadway musical — to a simple principle: She followed her dreams.

A fourth-generation Floridian, Bass grew up riding horses in Fort Myers and the Everglades. When she was 9 or 10, she saw a handwritten sign offering plane rides for a penny a pound and set about collecting the three quarters it would take to become airborne. The aunt who was watching her at the time, however, had no intention of sending her young charge up, up and away.

“I adored my aunt Ginger, and that was the only argument we had in our lives,” Bass said.

Within a few years, Bass could count on her aunt to take her to watch National Airlines 727 jets land around 9 p.m. in Fort Myers. Her aunt parked her Volkswagen Beetle by the airport’s chain-link fence so Bass could behold the evening’s aviation spectacle.

“The pilots seemed like gods to me,” Bass recalled. “But for years my father said no to flying lessons because he thought I’d lose interest in the quarter horses we raised, and he was convinced the horses were what would keep me away from boys and drugs.”

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