Celebrating SkyWest’s Third Year at Wings for Autism

SkyWest’s diverse team mobilizes the company’s values through the service we provide to our customers each day and by giving back in the communities where we live and work. This month SkyWest marked its third year participating in Wings for Autism in Fresno, culminating in our seventh Wings for Autism event of the year.  Wings for Autism mirrors an actual flight experience to help those with autism and other sensory sensitivities navigate and understand air travel.

The company’s long-time partnership with The Arc and the Wings for Autism is just one of the many ways SkyWest provides support for those with disabilities. As an airline that serves millions of diverse passengers each month, SkyWest people expressed their appreciation for this opportunity to introduce the magic of aviation to those who may not have had a chance to fly before.

Get a glimpse of what it was like:

Pilots, flight attendants and other SkyWest team members who volunteer for these events say they love the opportunity to interact with all those who attend and to share their passion for aviation.

“It’s a great event because it gives the families a chance to get used to airplanes and the airport,” said Flight Operations Supervisor Andrew Johnson. Whether in the air on one of our more than 2,400 daily flights or on the ground for special events, our people do a great job of taking care of everyone.

“I was so lucky, it was just like a normal day driving in a car,” said one participant.

This year alone, SkyWest has helped provide these experiences at events in Boise, Idaho (BOI), Erie, Pennsylvania (ERI), Louisville, Kentucky (SDF), Norfolk, Virginia (ORF), Minot, North Dakota (MOT) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania (AVP). At each event you’ll find a common theme: SkyWest employees giving back and providing an exceptional experience. When asked about her favorite part as a mom, Ida Smith noted that she loves knowing people are coming together to provide valuable opportunities for children across the autism spectrum. That’s why SkyWest is proud to be a supporter of Wings for Autism.

Click here to visit our Careers page where you can learn more about how you can become a part of the SkyWest team and be involved in these types of unforgettable events.

SkyWest Appreciation Week

SkyWest Teams Celebrate Appreciation Week 2019!

Appreciation Week is a unique time at SkyWest Airlines. It’s a full week that is set aside to celebrate the more than 14,000 people that make SkyWest the industry’s best. This year the week was filled with food, games, photo booths, visits from executive leaders, and much more. It’s a time to have fun and to recognize the incredible work that SkyWest people do every day.

During the past year, SkyWest teams have done amazing things by working together. This summer saw a new record level of flying with more than 2,500 daily flights! More than a dozen new aircraft have rolled out of the factory and joined the SkyWest fleet so far this year. A new maintenance base is opening in San Luis Obispo, California. Teams from across SkyWest have given back to their communities through charitable causes including Habitat for Humanity, Wings for Autism, and many more. And the list of accomplishments just continues to grow!

Take a look at the photo gallery below for a glimpse into the fun and festivities that were happening in domiciles, hangars and terminals across the country. To get in on the fun as a part of the SkyWest team, visit our Careers page and submit an application today.

SkyWest pilot Ralf Socher on Denali

SkyWest First Officer Reaches 20,000 Feet, Without a Plane

When he’s not climbing to 35,000 feet as a pilot, SkyWest CRJ First Officer Ralf Socher is climbing mountains nearly as high!

This past year, Socher had the chance to traverse and summit Denali. At 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America. This height and it’s location near the Arctic Circle make the mountain prone to extreme weather. Reaching the summit requires discipline, strength and focus; skills that Socher has developed through practice and his experience as a pilot.

SkyWest pilot Ralf Socher on Denali

“Mountaineering, particularly on high, remote peaks like Denali, can be compared to flying in regards to the need for situational awareness and planning,” said Socher. “As with flying, always having an alternate plan in mind in case something changes or goes wrong is critical.”

Socher’s first experience with mountain climbing took place in the Alps when he was 16, but it wasn’t until he was a new hire with SkyWest, based out of Fresno, California (FAT), that mountain climbing became a regular activity.

“As a pilot at SkyWest I appreciate the schedule flexibility that allows me time to go climbing and train for big expeditions like Denali…and with Fresno’s close proximity to Yosemite, I took the opportunity to expand my technical skills often.”

Scaling Denali took Socher and his group 14 days. Along the way he encountered numbingly cold conditions and an exhaustion he had never experienced before. Relying on his training, he was able to overcome the challenges to reach the top.

“In the thin atmosphere, where the sky overhead became midnight blue, I hardly noticed my deep rhythmic breathing. I was focused and feeling light afoot. Excitement hit me as we negotiated a stretch of deep snow along a precarious narrow ridge before joyously striding to the top of North America!”

SkyWest is proud to have so many incredible team members like Ralf Socher who provide exceptional service to millions of passengers each year, while still pursuing their dreams. At SkyWest, there’s no telling just how high you can climb!

Learn more about SkyWest and career opportunities available to you here.

Father’s Day: Following in Dad’s Footsteps

Brayden and Lynn Bell

For many pilots, having the opportunity to be at the controls of an aircraft with their dad is a far-fetched dream.

At SkyWest Airlines, those dreams are a reality for generations of family pilots who work at the company and at times, even fly together.

“It has been the highlight of my career to be able to work next to my son,” said SkyWest CRJ Captain Michael Jense. “Chris and I have been blessed to fly numerous trips together and it has been great to be able to hang out on the overnight trips too.”

Whether it was spending time working at his grandfather’s aircraft maintenance shop, taking family trips thanks to the travel benefits, or seeing the joy on his dad’s face because he was doing what he loved, Chris fell in love with aviation and is thankful for his dad’s help and guidance as he began taking flying lessons when he was 16 years old.

Michael Jense (CA, CRJ) and Chris Jense (CA, CRJ)

“My dad has helped me out so much and I’ve enjoyed being able to fly different trips with him,” said SkyWest CRJ Captain Chris Jense. “Coming to SkyWest was an easy decision for me because of the company’s exceptional reputation and the opportunities it gives its employees.”

For Chris, flying was in his blood as a fourth-generation pilot.

Dave Bechtold (CA, CRJ) and Dylan Bechtold (CA, CRJ)

“The poor kid never had a chance,” Michael laughs. “But honestly it’s great to see him doing what he loves.”

That passion, combined with SkyWest’s values, continues to drive the airline’s close-knit family culture even as it has grown to become the world’s largest regional airline with nearly 14,000 aviation professionals operating more than 2,500 daily flights.

Captain Dylan Bechtold got an early start at SkyWest thanks to his father, CRJ Captain Dave Bechtold, who has more than three decades of experience at SkyWest.

“I grew up in the SkyWest training department and know most of the senior pilots,” said Dylan. “Because of that, I knew firsthand the culture and commitment the company has in its employees, and with my parents and my aunt working at SkyWest, it was an easy choice for me to join the team.”

Together they have taken a number of trips in what Dave calls “an unforgettable experience.”

“To be in the cockpit and flying together was a proud moment,” said Dave.

For ERJ Captain Marshall Rub and his son Captain Jeffrey Rub, the opportunity to work alongside each other is one of the reasons why they don’t want to go anywhere else.

Marshall Rub (CA, ERJ) and Jeffrey Rub (CA, ERJ)

“I was Jeff’s instructor when he first started to fly and the rest has been history,” said Marshall.

For CRJ Captain Garry Poulton, working at SkyWest quickly became his goal as he began working as a flight instructor in Reno, Nevada.

“I had heard a lot of good things about SkyWest and it’s been more than I could have ever imagined,” said Captain Poulton. “The camaraderie among crewmembers, the family culture, the opportunities, including flying with my son (Denton Poulton), have all been so great.”

So far, the father and son pilots have flown twice together.

“When I got into aviation I never thought much about my children wanting to follow in my footsteps,” said Captain Garry Poulton. “I have seen, in the past, other pilots who had flown with their children and seen the smile on their faces. I know what those feelings of pride and accomplishment are like now.”

For Denton, being a pilot was always his dream as he watched his father leave for work in his uniform.

“My dad was my ultimate role model,” he said. “Where kids wanted to grow up to be professional athletes, Hollywood stars or the next President of the United States, I wanted to grow up to be like my Dad.”

Garry Poulton (CA, CRJ) and Denton Poulton (FO, CRJ)

A similarly unforgettable experience occurred last year for Brent Wilson, a SkyWest pilot and manager of aircraft operations, along with his son Michael, a first officer. They had the chance to operate their first flight together as they took delivery of one of the company’s newest E175 aircraft at the Embraer factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil.

“It was an amazing experience and such a great moment for me and our family,” said Michael. “It’s something we’ll never forget.”

These examples and experiences are just a few of the many pilots, flight attendants, maintenance professionals, customer service agents and more who have had the unique opportunity of working together with their family at SkyWest.

Happy Father’s Day to all our SkyWest Fathers teaching their children to soar! To learn more about becoming a part of the SkyWest family, go to skywest.com.

SkyWest pilot with D-Day veteran

SkyWest Salutes D-Day Veteran on 75th Anniversary

SkyWest is honored to have been part of one veteran’s special journey back to Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Mr. Joseph Morettini, a U.S. Army veteran, was travelling to France this month for the international commemoration. These memorials and remembrances hold a special place in Mr. Morettini’s heart, as he served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He is one of the few living survivors who stormed the beaches of Normandy and served in the Battle of the Bulge.

A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, Mr. Morettini flew out of Erie International Airport on a SkyWest Airlines flight to begin his journey to France. Tawyna Rexford, SkyWest Airlines Station Manager, described the airline’s role in ensuring Mr. Morettini received special treatment on his journey.

“Our team was able to organize a local American Legion Color Guard, high school JROTC procession, local business veterans group, local fire and police departments, and members of our city council and elected state officials to make an appearance in the surprise send-off,” said Rexford.

The surprise ceremony was heightened, as SkyWest worked to ensure Mr. Morettini’s entire family would be able to witness the celebration honoring their beloved relative.

“We worked behind the scenes to get Mr. Morettini’s whole family here to complete the surprise. Mr. Morettini has made many appearances over the years at all sorts of events across the country. His son has accompanied him to most of the events. In a speech given to the assembled crowd, Mr. Morettini’s son shared that this trip will be the most memorable for both of them, because this is the only event that they have been able to experience as an entire family,” said Rexford.

SkyWest Captain Taylor Spangler, accompanied by First Officer Mark Geyer and Flight Attendant Meghan Decker, presented an American flag to Mr. Morettini on behalf of SkyWest Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Rexford summarized the day’s events and recognition: “Our people have hearts of gold and unmatched passion for what they do. I am so proud that they exemplify the best qualities of what SkyWest’s Guiding Principles are all about.”

A heartfelt thank you to Mr. Morettini and to all those who have sacrificed for our freedoms.

SkyWest’s First Female Maintenance Controller

Melissa Serrano is no ordinary mechanic. Starting her career at SkyWest in 2015 in the ORD hangar, Serrano is now the first female maintenance controller in SkyWest Airlines history.

”I knew it was a man’s field, but I knew it was something I could do,” said Serrano.

When an aircraft is removed from service for maintenance, the maintenance controller is consulted by line mechanics and pilots to help troubleshoot all procedures. After the aircraft has been properly diagnosed and repaired if necessary, it is the responsibility of the maintenance controller to give final clearance before returning the aircraft to scheduled service.

“With every aircraft that is put back into service, I put my license on the line. I sign it, it’s my signature. It’s something that I take seriously; I have worked too hard for this,” said Serrano.

When she was a young girl, Serrano’s mother drove an airport shuttle in Atlanta. She recalls going to work with her mother often, and as they drove the back roads to the airport Serrano would stare at the jetliners with amazement. She always enjoyed working with her hands and became addicted to the independence provided by fixing something herself. Later, she joined the JROTC, where she would step foot in an aircraft hangar for the first time.

“That first time I smelled jet fuel, I knew what I wanted to do,” said a confident Serrano.

It certainly didn’t happen overnight. Getting her A&P license alone was years of sacrifice and hard work. While in school full-time at AIM in Atlanta, Serrano worked as a parts clerk at a freight line, fitting 36 hours of work into her two-day weekend. On top of that, she went to school Monday through Thursday, and worked part-time at a hotel during the week.

Serrano secured her first job, post A&P school, at a general aircraft maintenance company. There, she would learn invaluable lessons about asserting yourself and being confident in your abilities. Often being taken off projects because her male counterparts didn’t feel comfortable working with a woman, she recalls one instance where she and a coworker were at impasse while diagnosing a problem. His demeaning remarks were that she would be better off making sandwiches. Her diagnostic was proven right.

“Do your research and know what you are talking about,” says Serrano. “Then, you can confidently stand your ground, because you believe in what you say.”

Once she made it to SkyWest, she worked hard on the hangar floor, learning from her many mentors. She quickly realized that SkyWest was different.

“SkyWest is a great place to work. If you want the experience, someone will take you under their wing. SkyWest takes me seriously, my supervisors take me seriously and they are confident in my expertise.”

Serrano became interested in the maintenance controller position after talking with a co-worker. After a few conversations, she set her sights on becoming the first female maintenance controller in SkyWest history. After an intense interview process and extensive training, Serrano took her first solo shift with authority.

SkyWest Maintenance Manager Wayne Wignall says, “She has worked very hard and has come a long way. She does a fantastic job.”

Serrano has a few words of advice for any woman out there looking to enter into what might be considered a man’s profession:

“Stay positive. Feeling sad isn’t going to do something for your future. Learn what you can and move on. Nobody should stop you from getting your experience; just work hard and have confidence in yourself.”

Melissa, we are proud to have you on the SkyWest team. Keep up the great work and continue to soar!

Preparing for Flight: Autism Awareness Events

Few things bring as much wonder and excitement to little children as flying on a big aircraft to diverse locations. But for some, especially those with Autism and other sensory sensitivities, this experience is anything but exciting. It can be overwhelming and even a little scary.

To help, several SkyWest teams have recently joined forces with The Arc, the Autism Society, TSA and our mainline partners to host Wings For Autism events. These events allow children with Autism and other sensory sensitivities to participate in a flight rehearsal designed to alleviate some of the stress that they might otherwise experience when traveling by air. The recent Wings For Autism days were held in Louisville, Kentucky (SDF), Norfolk, Virginia (ORF), Minot, North Dakota (MOT), and Erie, Pennsylvania (ERI).

Hours of coordination go into each event to allow for the best possible experience for the children. SkyWest general station managers, along with other key stakeholders, spend months in preparation.

“The true stars of the event were our awesome crews who stepped right in by engaging and educating the families in such a positive way,” said General Manager Vince Bogdanovich. “They were patient, attentive, and helped make many future flyers a possibility.”

“It was rewarding to give back time to those who most need it,” said ORD CRJ Captain TJ Darling. “It was an honor and privilege to help. The kids were so excited to hear about the airplane and interact with the crew. What a privilege it was to share our expertise with such a deserving and grateful audience. It was a way to make others’ lives better and there is no better feeling.”

“Navigating an airport is such a nerve-racking experience for everyone on their first time,” added ORD First Officer Kurt Guillan. “To be able to provide an experience for the participants is something all of us involved should be proud of. Knowing I played my small part in helping them gain confidence in a challenging environment is something I take pride in. My crew really hit this one out of the park and showed what it means to be part of the SkyWest family.”

Many thanks to the SkyWest people who volunteered countless hours of coordination and expertise to share their love of flying and provide these families with memories that will last a lifetime!

SkyWest’s First Mother-Daughter Pilots Take to the Skies

SkyWest CRJ Captain Suzy Garrett has much to celebrate this Mother’s Day. Reaching 30 years of SkyWest service May 1, Captain Garrett is one of SkyWest’s longest-tenured pilots and was the eleventh female pilot hired at SkyWest. Her husband Doug flies at American Airlines after a decade with SkyWest, their son Mark is currently building his flight hours and their daughter Donna began SkyWest flight training this month.

“We absolutely love our jobs. You don’t see that too much in other occupations,” Captain Garrett explained. “None of our kids were thinking about becoming pilots, but when you start looking at other careers that are out there, sitting in an office, and then see how happy we are — it opened their eyes.”

Now, as Donna completes SkyWest’s CRJ pilot training, she and Captain Garrett are SkyWest’s first mother-daughter pilot pair. “I was exposed to aviation my whole life,” said Donna. “I decided to fly because of my parents’ passion and love for flying. They made it so much fun.”

“I got to do a lot of traveling growing up,” she continued. “I was exposed to the world, which was a big inspiration. Experiencing my mom and dad’s lifestyle was wonderful. It exposed me to the possibilities the industry offered.”

Captain Garrett agrees that aviation has opened many doors throughout her 30-year career.

“I am super grateful for this job,” she said. “For women, the work schedule flexibility is a plus; the ability to have a family. What better career is out there where you can make this kind of money and not have to have high stress by taking your work home with you? Scheduling is a big reason why I’ve stayed with SkyWest. It was great when the kids were growing up. I could volunteer for field trips, parties at school and be that mom, while also having this wonderful career!”

Captain Garrett also talks about how their family enjoys traveling together.

“We’ve taken the family everywhere,” she said. “We’ve been able to get away from normal life and the house and escape on these vacations to have good, quality time together. It didn’t matter whether it was Germany, China, Costa Rica or Africa: You’re making memories of a lifetime. My middle child became very savvy and could soon piece together routings for our trips better than I could.”

And now she has the joy of knowing her daughter Donna has joined the SkyWest family.

“I love it! I really love it. It’s neat having your kid experience what you’ve gotten to experience. She’s part of the SkyWest family. I think it’s going to be a great career for her. She likes having variety and excitement in her life.”

Captain Garrett is a trailblazer in many ways. Starting with just a few other female pilots in the industry 30 years ago, she describes how things have changed throughout her career.

“[Back then] I wouldn’t draw attention to myself at the airport,” she said. “Believe it or not, I used to hide. The climate has changed; the reaction from the passengers has changed. Today I feel like I can be a role model for young girls who come on board and show them what’s possible. The doors are open: You can be anything!”

Donna continued, “Don’t ever disqualify yourself or think that there is anything limiting you just because you are a woman. There are so many opportunities to be successful in this industry. Find mentors: other people who are doing what you’re doing and what you’re aspiring towards. Meet other people who are doing the same thing. Finding friends and peers who are going through the same thing you’re going through is extremely helpful. I’m so grateful I have my mom as a resource.”

Donna understands that her mother is in many ways a pioneer.

“Mom being a commercial pilot normalized it for me. Being exposed to the rest of the world, where things hadn’t caught up yet, opened my eyes. Seeing the world shifting is cool. It’s cool seeing more and more women getting into the industry.”

Captain Garrett and Donna look forward to their first flight together and are thrilled to be SkyWest’s first mother-daughter pilot pair.

“It’s exciting and something I’m proud of,” Donna said smiling. “I had no idea how rare it was! It’s a cool moment for my mom and me and for women in aviation in general.”

Thank you, Captain Garrett. To mothers everywhere, SkyWest wishes you a happy Mother’s Day!

Proudly employing over 13,000 aviation professionals, SkyWest operates nearly 2,400 daily flights. Together, these individuals connect millions of passengers each month to 258 destinations across North America. Learn more about SkyWest, and career opportunities available to you, here.

“It’s Just Exhilarating to Be Able to Fly”

Each SkyWest pilot has their own story of what motivated them to become a pilot and their own unique reasons for why they love to fly: Some love the thrill and exhilaration of leaving the ground, while others enjoy the privilege and responsibility of flying one of SkyWest’s 482 aircraft as they bring travelers to their intended locations. Still others love the beauty and freedom only experienced from a bird’s-eye view. Check out our video below where we asked a few of our pilots why they love to fly!

Because of this passion and drive carried by our employees, SkyWest has been named among the World’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE! SkyWest looks forward to continuing to welcome passionate pilots to our team. Interested in joining? Apply here!