Two Pilots, One Home: Karen Lacy and Jay Cowieson


To help commemorate Valentine’s Day this year, we spoke to a selection of six pilot-pilot couples to learn more about their unique relationships. None of them proclaim to have a perfect marriage or believe that they have all the answers. Instead, their stories are meant to educate, to inspire, and hopefully even to provide a pathway for those in or considering entering into their own similar relationship. Today, meet Karen Lacy and Jay Cowieson.

Suffice to say, it was not love at first sight for Karen Lacy and Jay Cowieson, both now first officers at Delta. Well, not for Karen at least. The two met while doing ALPA volunteer work, and Jay admits he was too shy to even talk to Karen—leading to a bad first impression. Their committee was meeting for lunch and Jay says, “I was late to arrive so they were already there eating. The only empty seat was right next to Karen. I still couldn’t overcome my shyness and completely ignored her for the entire meal.” However, as they conversed by email and then in person, they discovered they had a lot in common and perspectives quickly changed.

As the two became one, they tackled their first challenge: scheduling. As Karen explains, “Either you line up your schedules so you are home at the same time, or you stagger your schedules so one of you is always home but you never see each other.” Jay adds, “We value our time together and are willing to do whatever it takes to maximize that time.” And they take advantage of the perks of their job: “Even if it’s just a late-night dinner in MSP or Netflix in AMA, we appreciate the ability to tag along and spend time together,” says Karen.

According to Cowieson, an important aspect of their marriage is something called “positive sentiment override.” As he explained it, “It means giving each other the benefit of the doubt as opposed to automatically assuming the worst. For example, if your partner says something that could be received as hurtful, you know that they didn’t mean it that way because they would never intentionally hurt you. Instead, you ask for clarification.”

To learn more about the sacrifices made, challenges met, and opportunities enjoyed by Karen and Jay and five other married pilot couples that spoke to us, read Love is in the Air: When Pilots Marry Pilots.

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