Captain Emma Henderson, MBE

Former airline pilot and Co-Founder

Project Wingman Foundation

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There are (far) more ‘endangered’ Bengal tigers in the world than there are female airline captains. About four times as many. Until September 2020, Emma Henderson was a member of this rare and special flying club, over a career that spans 30 years.

Her career started with the RAF, and finished as Captain at easyJet and along the way, she learned first hand valuable lessons about how to keep all the plates spinning as she juggled flight training with three young children, and being a military wife, how to lead with humility and authenticity, and the importance of prioritising her own well-being as she faced a life threatening illness, and failed her first attempt at command.

As the world began to stop in March 2020, Emma knew she would not be flying again for some time. With her deep understanding of, as well as loyalty to and appreciation of her industry, Emma saw an opportunity to support the UK NHS in their darkest hour whilst giving her colleagues a much-needed sense of purpose.

Thus, the latest chapter of Emma’s journey was begun as she founded Project Wingman – uniting the airline industry to provide well-being support to frontline NHS staff. Since then, thanks to Emma’s leadership, determination and generous heart Project Wingman’s volunteer base swelled to 6500 aircrew, drawn from all airlines, right across the UK, serving over 100 NHS trusts across the UK as well as two Medical Centres in New York City as Project Wingman USA.

Such is Emma’s inspiration she is continually acknowledged by her peers and the wider public for her outstanding contributions to the social good, with multiple awards and nominations to her name including an MBE which she was awarded in January 2021, a Points of Light Award, Captain of the Year,  and Woman of the Year 2020 and 2021, all of which she navigates with the humility of a true leader.