How I Became a SkyWest Pilot: Anna Yackshaw

Katelyn Boulton
Corporate Communications Coordinator

Anna Yackshaw, a SkyWest CRJ first officer, was born into a family of aviation. Often going on imaginary flights with her grandfather, a Corsair pilot, her decision to fly professionally was made long before she reached the conclusion on her own. It wasn’t until after a visit to the University of Dubuque during high school when Anna knew her childhood imagination would soon become more. She headed to flight school and eventually found herself in the right seat of a flight deck, flying for SkyWest.


How did you decide to become a pilot?

Growing up I was very fortunate to spend a lot of my childhood with my grandparents. My grandfather and I were practically inseparable. He was a Corsair pilot and mechanic for the Navy during WWII and continued to fly recreationally after the war had ended. I loved hearing all about his flying stories, and we would go on our own ‘imaginary flights’ almost daily. Little did I know that this game of pretending was foreshadowing my own career down the road.

After taking countless career assessment tests in high school and not being at all excited about any of the results, I went to visit a friend of mine who was already in college to see if he had any advice. Although he was helpful, it was his college, the University of Dubuque, that guided me to my answer. Dubuque had their own flight school. I was talking to some of his friends who were in the program and they were telling me how they flew for class. How cool is that?! For this Midwest girl who grew up flying imaginary flights with her grandfather, it was the perfect fit.

What made you decide to come to SkyWest?

When the hours in my logbook finally totaled that magic number and I wasn’t in love with my corporate job at the time, I once again reached out to friends for advice. Fortunately, having attended a flight school left me with plenty of friends scattered all over this industry. The trend I noticed the most was that everyone was happy at SkyWest, and I felt that I received the most positive feedback from those who flew for SkyWest. That feedback, in addition to my own research on the company, made it seem like the obvious choice.

What do you enjoy most about being at SkyWest?

The people are definitely the best part and biggest asset to this company. From the training department to the crews that I fly with on the line, I couldn’t ask for better co-workers. I have made friends here that will be in my life indefinitely.

Why do you love being a pilot?

I love that my job doesn’t feel like work. There are days when our paychecks are definitely earned, but overall I love that I don’t feel like I’ve gone to ‘work’ a day in my life because I love what I do. I love watching the sun rise and set at 30,000 feet. I love when we have kids on board that want to come see the cockpit and watching their faces light up when I give them a pair of wings. In addition to these perks, no day is the exact same. This job is constantly challenging me and pushing me to become a better pilot. Always having the opportunity to learn is something that I feel many take for granted.

What do people say when you tell them you’re a pilot?

The most common reaction is shock. Whether it be my age or my gender, I’m not sure. My favorite reaction is when people are simply happy for me and don’t make a big deal about it. I love what I do, but I don’t think it deserves a spotlight over anyone else’s career.

How have you seen the role of women in aviation change?

I think the general public is still use to seeing more male pilots and female flight attendants than vice versa, but I can see those roles continue to diversify with each crew I fly with. In our ever-changing world, I think there will always be challenges but I see them becoming fewer and fewer as time goes on. The growth in size and popularity of the Women in Aviation organization is a great testament to the progress and successes that women have had in this industry.

What advice would you give to women who are considering becoming pilots?

Stop thinking about it and start working on it. This is an amazing career path and even though it comes with its share of sacrifices, I don’t think there is another job out there that compares to the rewards of being a pilot.

Everyone knows that this is a male-dominated industry, but don’t let that get in your head. Instead of becoming a ‘female pilot’, just become a pilot. We all show up to the airport to do the same job. Stay strong and confident and be a good role model for those aspiring aviators following in your footsteps.

Fly safely and follow your dreams!


SkyWest is a proud supporter of Women in Aviation and will be attending the 2018 Conference later this week. Come meet with our recruiters Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24, and learn more about a career with SkyWest. There will also be an opportunity for on-site interviews for those ready to Take Control of Their Careers. Visit our career guide to learn more about flying with SkyWest.

For more inspiration on women in aviation, take a look at this blog post, featuring SkyWest First Officer (recently upgraded to Captain!) Koko Kostelny.