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!

Learning From the Best: A Family of Flyers

Many pilots have a pivotal experience or memory that first aligned them with a desire to take to the skies. Detroit-based SkyWest CRJ Captain Alexander Hilsen encountered many of those moments from an early age. With both parents and an older sister as pilots, Alexander grew up in an aviation-focused household that took his career aspirations to new heights.

Here he shares his experiences and the part his family played in his aviation journey.


Growing up with two pilots for parents was interesting and unique, with everyone wondering the same thing:

“What was it like having both of your parents gone all the time?”

Well, it wasn’t like that. That was just normal to me. I got to spend some time with Dad, then I got to spend time with Mom, and then my sister and I got the house to ourselves for a few days. Something I began to understand in my adolescence was that I actually saw my parents more often than my friends did. They never had to take their work home with them. During their days off they could enjoy their hobbies of horse riding, hunting and flying little airplanes.

Although some birthdays were missed, and they sometimes had to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving, Amelia and I both understood that it came with the territory. My sister and I loved flying when we were little. My dad got exhausted from taking us weightless over and over.

My first memories of flying were when I was four years old. We had to take the cushions off of the couch so that we could see over the cowling of the 172. My dad would then tell me to pretend I was flying an F-16 and to shoot down imaginary enemies. There was no question that we had achieved air superiority over Enumclaw, Washington.

Having airline pilots as parents came with other benefits. When I was 13, my dad was able to secure a simulator slot for me in the 747. It didn’t take long before I was putting out triple engine fires and flying inverted under the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ve had the privilege of riding in the back of both my parents’ airplanes. When I was 14, my dad flew my sister and me to Narita, and when I was 16, my mom flew us to London. In 2017, I used my jumpseat privileges to sit in the jumpseat next to my mom for a trip to Honolulu. It was awesome to see my mother at the helm of a 777-200, hand-flying a “slam-dunk” arrival, just as I’d done in a SkyWest CRJ a hundred times before.

Training and instructing together with my sister Amelia has also brought us closer as siblings. Learning the skill and getting to fly old and exotic airplanes is something that we have shared and bonded over. I feel really lucky to have the opportunities that I’ve been given.


SkyWest pilots can truly Take Control of Their Pilot Careers, with more opportunity, exposure and access than any other regional pilots. Twenty domiciles and a fleet of nearly 500 aircraft allow career advancement and opportunity throughout the country. Learn more and apply here.

Revving Engines for Charity at the Annual SkyWest Mini Indy

For the 19th year running, SkyWest Airlines, along with local partners and airline vendors, hosted the annual Mini Indy, the airline industry’s premier charity event. Teams traveled to Southern Utah from around the globe to compete on a newly-designed track that started with a wet corner followed by twists and turns that challenged the drivers in go-karts tapping out at 24 miles-per-hour.

The event combines the heart-pumping, Indy-style race with pit stops, a BBQ competition, a golf tournament and team themes, including designs of the cars for those who bring home the big trophies. While the trophies and competition are all part of the fun, the main focus of the event is raising money for charity. This year, the event raised record-breaking funds for United Way Dixie and the SkyWest Scholarship Fund.

The event embodies the spirit of SkyWest Airlines, giving back to our people and the communities in which we live and work. Mini Indy is just one way SkyWest focuses on our people and those in need. For more information on Mini Indy, click here, or look at job opportunities to join the SkyWest team here.

Meet the SkyWest Pilot Recruiters Attending WAI in 2019!

SkyWest Airlines will be attending the 2019 International Women in Aviation Conference (WAI) in Long Beach, California this week. The three-day event – which runs from Thursday through Saturday – will feature keynote speakers talking about the latest innovations in the industry, as well as workshops and networking opportunities.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of WAI and our pilot recruitment team is excited to take part once again this year. As one of the largest regional airlines in the world – with over 2,300 daily flights and nearly 500 aircraft – our world-class pilots look forward to meeting with you, answering your questions and even holding on-site interviews.

To get you better acquainted with the SkyWest recruitment team at WAI 2019, we reached out to ask them about their experiences in the aviation industry and what advice they would offer girls looking to pursue a career as a commercial pilot.

Shanna Van Dusen, Phoenix CRJ First Officer

Shanna Van Dusen, Phoenix CRJ First Officer

What was your path to SkyWest?

I completed my pilot certificates just prior to 9/11. With the economy in a slump, I chose to finish my college education, get married, and have children. After a 12-year hiatus from aviation, it was time to return to my first love: flying. I became a flight instructor with AeroGuard Flight Training Center and finally completed my 1,500 hours. While there, I enrolled in the SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program and became a SkyWest Cadet, then successfully interviewed to become a SkyWest first officer!

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

There are so many reasons I love being a part of the SkyWest family! The friendships, quality of life, my flying schedule, the travel benefits as well as the people I work with.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

I love the quality of life SkyWest has to offer. I have choices with my career, which affords me the ability to be flexible and spend quality time with my husband and kids. I can choose which aircraft I fly, I can choose from 20 domiciles to live in or commute from. Even as a First Officer I have enough days off to chaperone my kids’ school field trips, enjoy date nights with my husband, and still earn a lucrative income. SkyWest Airlines is the perfect place for any woman to maintain that work-life balance as an airline pilot.

What advice would you give girls looking at pursuing careers in aviation?

Putting forth the time and sacrifice upfront, will be worth the effort in the end. There is nothing better for me than stepping into my child’s classroom, in a SkyWest Airlines uniform for career day, and see them beaming with pride.

Amanda Glover, Chicago CRJ First Officer

Amanda Glover, Chicago CRJ First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

When I was in high school, I used to work with an elderly woman each night. She was one of 33 licensed female pilots in the 1940s and her stories inspired me to follow my dreams of being a pilot. Listening to her stories about learning how to fly were amazing. She changed her name to Mike from Martha just so the men she was giving lessons to would fly with her. She was inspiring!

What was your path to SkyWest?

My path to SkyWest began in 2004. I was hired as a Cross Utilized Agent in Missoula, MT. I began to see all the pilots fly in and out of the airport and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. In 2009 my career took a leap forward when I joined the InFlight team at SkyWest. I worked full time as a flight attendant while giving flying lessons on my days off. As soon as I logged my 1500th hour I put my application in at SkyWest to become a pilot.

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

My favorite part of being a pilot with SkyWest is the amazing corporate culture that we have. The family mentality that SkyWest has embraced speaks to me. I love coming to work every day knowing that I’m going to work with my friends. I also know that I work for a company that encourages and supports their employees and ensures their success in the day-to-day operation.

Muri Cole, Minneapolis CRJ First Officer

Muri Cole, Minneapolis CRJ First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

I have always been inspired by the idea of flying and once I got behind the controls of an airplane, I knew it was where I was meant to be.

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

I love the variety in the flying with so many interesting overnights and 20 bases. I have chosen to be based at eight different domiciles so far because I love exploring the country, and SkyWest makes that possible for me.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

I have found that equality is one of SkyWest’s strongest attributes. As I jumped from base to base I flew with hundreds of different crews and across the board every flight was honored with teamwork, respect and positive attitudes.

Jordane Mortelman, Chicago ERJ Captain

Jordane Mortelman, Chicago ERJ Captain

Why did you become a pilot?

My grandfather was a Spitfire pilot for the Royal Air Force in World War II. I was always fascinated by his stories and would ask him all the time about it. When I was eight years old, I told him I wanted to be a flight attendant because that was what I thought girls could do.  He said to me, “why… when you could be up in the front?” After that I set my sights on becoming a pilot.

What was your pathway to SkyWest?

I did all of my flight training in the United Kingdom where I was an instructor for two years. The economy was not doing very well, and I came over to the United States as a flight instructor. SkyWest Airlines was the only regional airline that I knew anything about, and I knew it was the place for me. I just celebrated my seven-year anniversary at SkyWest last month!

Advice to girls looking to pursue aviation?

Never give up. It’s not an easy road, but it’s absolutely worth all the hard work.

Jessica Chaloupka, LaGuardia ERJ First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

My dad was a Navy pilot so I grew up with an aviation influence. I still remember my first Blue Angels air show as a child. My parents were very supportive of my dreams and aspirations of becoming a pilot.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

SkyWest has an exceptional reputation. The team members are hard-working, happy, and friendly. People love coming to work and I see more women joining the team every day!

What advice would you give girls looking at pursuing careers in aviation?

If you’re looking to start an aviation career, you should go for it! There are so many opportunities for women in aviation. Find a mentor and start asking questions. All the women I have met have been so helpful and supportive!

Jessica Chaloupka, LaGuardia ERJ First Officer

Theresa Nelson, Portland ERJ First Officer

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

My favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot is the people I get to work with. SkyWest’s culture empowers the team members to take care of one another and deliver excellent service to our customers and partners.

Theresa Nelson, Portland ERJ First Officer

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

We take care of one another. When we travel as crew members, we stick together. SkyWest understands the needs of the employees and the challenges of balancing work and family. You will find nothing but advocates supporting your journey at SkyWest.

What advice would you give girls looking at pursuing careers in aviation?

My advice for girls is to be daring enough to dream. Dream about what puts a smile on your face and don’t let anything stop you. For me, I dreamed of financial independence while traveling and still having time for family life. The life of an airline pilot provides all that, and I get to fly a jet.

Colleen Paquet, Salt Lake City CRJ First Officer

What was your path to SkyWest?

I got my degree in Aviation Technology from Utah State University. Once I graduated we moved to Los Angeles and I did a mixture of flight instructing along with aerial photography. Then I applied at SkyWest!

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

This sounds cliche, but my favorite part about being a SkyWest pilot is the people. I always have a blast at work. We are constantly laughing and joking, which makes my trips so enjoyable.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

SkyWest has a very strong group of pilots who are trying to give not only the female pilots, but any pilot with a family, the highest quality of life possible. It’s inspiring to see so many people working together to help our female pilots balance their family life and career.

Love is in the Air: SkyWest Crew Members Marry; Continue Family Tradition

Justin Giles
Corporate Communications Coordinator

The saying “it runs in the family” certainly holds true for the Lucas household.

With both parents working in the aviation industry, SkyWest Captain Mitch Lucas II quickly grew a love for flying as he followed in his parents’ footsteps when he was hired at SkyWest in 2014.

“My dad was a pilot at SkyWest for over 30 years and my mom was part of SkyWest’s first flight attendant training class,” said Mitch. “You could say that SkyWest is in our blood.”

His parents both worked at SkyWest and, as fate would have it, SkyWest also connected Mitch with his future wife.

This Friday – overlooking the ocean in Hawaii to commemorate where they flew for their first date – the CRJ Captain will tie the knot with his bride-to-be: SkyWest Flight Attendant Maddie Dougherty.

“It makes sense that it had to be like this,” Mitch said jokingly as he continues on the family tradition of marrying a flight attendant. “Like father, like son.”

As for Maddie, never in her wildest dreams did she think she would marry a pilot.

On my first day of flight attendant training I was told to “stay away from pilots, because they are bad news” she said jokingly. “I broke the ‘cardinal rule’ on the first day when I came across his profile while searching SkyWest on social media. But it was worth it.”

Both joined SkyWest in the summer of 2014 and were based in Chicago where they “officially” met while working a flight together. Afterwards the two started talking about some of the favorite places they have visited along with where they wanted to travel with their flight benefits.

“I found out that Maddie had never been to Hawaii before, so I told her that we should all get a group of friends together and go sometime,” Mitch recalled.

After organizing the trip, both agreed to meet up at the gate. And that’s when it all began.

“My friends ended up not being able to make it, but I still wanted to make a good impression and didn’t want to stand him up. Then when I saw that his friends didn’t make it either, I was so relieved” Maddie said smiling.

With the trip already planned, the two decided to take the flight anyway, and the rest was history.

“We love our friends, but we are so glad that they didn’t show up,” Mitch said.

“We owe them big time, “Maddie added.

The couple has been together for four years now and has been based at a few of SkyWest’s 20 domiciles – Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta.

Since 2015, the duo have flown over 1,000 flights together on the CRJ200 and love the company culture and team atmosphere that SkyWest represents.

“SkyWest is the best,” said Maddie. “It’s such a great company and we love it here!”

“The company cares about you and gives you all the resources you need to succeed,” added Mitch. “I’m proud of the work we do as a company and it’s awesome to be able to work with Maddie when our schedules allow. We make a great team and we love SkyWest.”

And it shows. Both employees often receive rave reviews from customers and colleagues alike for their commitment to safety, exceptional quality and professionalism. It’s a commitment that more than 14,000 of their colleagues share and a testament to what sets SkyWest apart.

Learn more about joining the SkyWest team here.

Looking Back at SkyWest’s 2018 Philanthropic Events

To make the world a better place, it takes consistent acts of kindness and positive contributions, and that is exactly what SkyWest employees do on a daily basis! Whether they are volunteering their time to fly toys to children’s hospitals, or working at the local food bank – SkyWest employees are making magic happen.

To recap the great year we had in our communities, we made a video highlighting some of the events we participated in! Including Wings for Autism, Fantasy Flight, Aviation Day, Bring our Kids to Work Day, Mini Indy and a Habitat for Humanity home build.

Here’s to another year of giving from the SkyWest team in 2019! Read more stories about SkyWest people making a difference.

Interested in joining the SkyWest team? Apply today!

The Life of a SkyWest Mechanic

So, you’ve caught the aviation bug! We don’t blame you. We love airplanes too. So we invited Tom Himka, Colorado Springs Maintenance Manager to give us an overview of what it’s like to be a SkyWest Mechanic.


Starting a new career can be a bit overwhelming, and you probably have plenty of questions. For instance, what is it like being a SkyWest mechanic? We can tell you, there isn’t anything more exciting than working nose to tail on state-of-the-art aircraft. And that’s exactly what every A&P mechanic at SkyWest does. With safety at the forefront of every task, every mechanic is responsible for the miracle of flight. Our maintenance team of industry leading professionals uses the best technology to keep a fleet of over 450 aircraft safe in the skies.

I’ll share an overview your first night, week and year as a SkyWest mechanic. We look forward to seeing you at work on the hangar floor.

Your first night at the maintenance hangar starts by attending a pre-shift meeting with all mechanics. Here, you’re assigned a Crew Lead, team and the aircraft you will be working on. Maintenance Crew Leads oversee 3-4 aircraft, plus one heavier inspection aircraft. All work must be wrapped up and the aircraft positioned to head back to the gates by 4:30 a.m.

SkyWest’s approach to teaching about the different aircraft is a mixture of hands-on and classroom experience. You can expect to spend 3-4 weeks on the hangar floor with the aircraft and an on-the-job trainer. You will also attend familiarization classes for each fleet type.

To help with the steep learning curve of your first week, you will meet with a Designated Trainer. A Designated Trainer is a Level III mechanic who works with Inspection and Production, and will specifically train you on SkyWest’s policies, procedures, and SkyTrack computer maintenance documentation. The Designated Trainer acts as your mentor and coach as you work through assignments and sign-off tasks.

Your first month, you’ll be hands on the aircraft with walk arounds, learning component locations, and inspection trainings.  For the first 30 days, FAA regulations require all work to be signed off by a trainer.

Within your first year you’ll reach Level II mechanic status, working on Level III tasks with the intent to attain Level III at 18 months. You’ll continue class training for each aircraft type and module classes for specific systems like hydraulics, fuel or air conditioning.

Our Accelerated Training Program is designed to get every mechanic from Level I to Level III in 18 months, allowing the flexibility to work independently as well as lead or assist new mechanics. Keep in mind that each level upgrade is accompanied with a pay increase.

Already have your A&P? Apply here!

SkyWest Mechanics Enjoy

  • Shift Trade Flexibility
  • Tool Allowance
  • Moving Expense Reimbursement
  • Flight Benefits with Four Major Airlines
  • Operational and Financial Bonuses
  • 13 Maintenance Bases and 9 Line Stations
  • Advanced Technology and Procedures (SkyWest is the first airline maintenance group in the world to go completely paperless)

SkyWest Flying

  • 450+ Regional jets, including the E175 and the CRJ200, CRJ700 & CRJ900
  • 33% of all aircraft overnight at a maintenance base or line location
  • Partnerships with Delta, American, United and Alaska Airlines

SkyWest Maintenance Career

There are three levels of mechanics at SkyWest:

  • LI– most common entry level from A&P school
  • LII – prior military or avionics experience, level 1 task list completed, ability to work independently
  • LIII – can lead a shift and train tasks to L1 or L2 mechanics, with the added responsibility of module classes and troubleshooting all systems.