Barbara McConnell Barrett
Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame
Barbara Barrett was born in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. In 1968 she moved to Arizona to attend college. She received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Juris Doctorate from Arizona State University. She holds ratings as a private and instrument rated pilot. In 1982 she was appointed by President Reagan as the Vice Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Beginning in 1989 she served for one year as the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, the first woman to hold that position. During this time she was greatly involved in rebuilding the air traffic control system after the air traffic controller’s strike. As a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services she has worked with Congress, the Secretary of Defense and the Department of Defense to advance the position of women in the military that in 1993 culminated in allowing women to fly combat aircraft.
She has been a member of both non-profit and corporate boards including; The National Air & Space Museum, the Arizona Governor’s Advisory Council on Aviation, Embry-Riddle aeronautical University, Mountain Air Express, Piper Aircraft, Raytheon Corporation, and Hershey. She introduced the Sally Ride Science Festival to Arizona. In 2008, Barrett was selected by President Bush to serve as the United States Ambassador to Finland. She held this post until 2009. That year she trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia and at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and was certified to fly in space.
Barrett has received numerous recognitions for her contributions including honorary doctorates from Arizona State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Thunderbird School of Management, the University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University and Finlandia University. In addition, she has been recognized with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and the FAA’s Administrator’s Award for Distinguished Service.