Author Archives: Justin Giles

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.

SkyWest Pilots Make Special Landing at St. Luke’s Children Hospital

SkyWest pilots made a special landing at St. Luke’s Children Hospital in Boise, Idaho last week to help spread some holiday cheer. The pilots turned their pilot hats in for some Santa caps as they visited with patients throughout the day.

SkyWest Captain P.M. Schneidau as well as First Officers Luc Levasseur and Zeb Baney, along with several pilots from other airlines, arrived at the pediatric unit with their sack of toys. Some of the gifts included stuffed animals, LEGO sets and gift cards.

“We saw lots of smiles and eyes light up today,” said Captain Schneidau. “Many of the kids were so thankful and it was great to visit with them. We hope a new stuffed animal or toy will make these kids’ stay in the hospital a little easier and leave them with a positive memory.”

The event hits close to home for the Schneidau family who have experienced what families at St. Luke’s Children Hospital are going through right now.

“My wife and I have had two very preemie babies at this same hospital, with our youngest boy spending several nights in the Pediatric ICU,” said Captain Schneidau, who is currently a volunteer on the NICU Family Advisory Council. “So when this event came up, Vanessa and I were thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in such a thoughtful and wonderful event.”

For many families, the holidays are a time of stress and added anxiety as they support and care for sick loved ones. Pilots for Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting hospitalized children and their families by using volunteer pilots to fly in toys and other needed supplies, with the goal of bringing smiles to families and children in need. This Pilots For Kids event was the first-ever in Boise. The event was so rewarding, that each of the pilots are already planning next year’s event.

“We look forward to participating again next year,” said Captain Schneidau. “We hope to make it even bigger too.”

Throughout the year, SkyWest employees have made it a point to give back to their communities through a variety of service projects. And with the holiday season in full swing, our crews and teams are once again finding ways to help make a difference. Read more about SkyWest people making a difference here.

SkyWest Crew Surprises High School Senior with Memorable Tour at PDX

High school student MaKenna Albert has always had a love for flying. She reached out to SkyWest Pilot Denise Langholz, asking about the possibility of taking an aircraft tour for her senior project.

What MaKenna didn’t realize, however, was that she was in for a treat, as Captain Langholz and the entire SkyWest team rolled out the red carpet to give her a behind-the-scenes tour at Portland International Airport (PDX).

“When MaKenna contacted me, I wanted to show her that her dream of being an airline pilot could be a reality,” said Captain Langholz. “When I was in high school and dreamed of being a pilot, I was mistakenly told that ‘girls don’t become pilots.’ It took some time before I realized that it was simply not true. I love helping people realize their dreams and it was a joy to be able to show MaKenna around and have her meet some of the SkyWest team.”

The day started off with a tour of the airport before they stopped to talk with several SkyWest employees, including Teresa Nelson, PDX First Officer.

“Teresa told me all about all about the operations, training and the Pilot Pathway Program that SkyWest offers,” MaKenna said. “It was very insightful and it was so fun to be able to see so much of the operation.”

As exciting as everything was, it was just the beginning for MaKenna.

After watching the ground crew welcome an inbound flight, PDX Captain Tracy Leland took the opportunity to walk MaKenna through each of the steps to prepare the aircraft for flight. Afterward, Makenna was able to take a tour of the maintenance hangar, meet more of the SkyWest family and sit inside the flight deck of a SkyWest jet, where she envisioned herself taking the controls as an airline pilot.

MaKenna also got to visit the crew lounge where she enjoyed talking with crew members about their experiences and why they chose SkyWest.

“It was awesome,” MaKenna said about the tour. “All of the pilots were so nice and took the time to answer all of my questions.”

Bob Venturella, SkyWest’s PDX Chief Pilot, added to MaKenna’s special day as he surprised her with a ride in his Piper Cub aircraft. Venturella took time to teach her about flying the aircraft and answered any other questions MaKenna had.

It was an awesome day for MaKenna.

“She hasn’t stopped smiling,” added Shannon Albert, MaKenna’s mother. “She has found her passion and is now focused on her goal to become an airline pilot.”

For Langholz, the tour was a great reminder why she chose SkyWest and why she still loves coming to work every day: “The people. Everyone at SkyWest makes it amazing,” said Langholz. “When Bob surprised MaKenna by taking her flying, it went above and beyond what was already a perfect day. So many others also took time out of their busy schedules to make it all possible.”

The kindness and teamwork did not go unnoticed as MaKenna repeatedly asked Captain Langholz throughout the day if “everyone at SkyWest was always this nice.”

“I felt so proud to be able to tell her yes,” said Langholz. “The people at SkyWest are truly remarkable, generous and kindhearted. It was a privilege to share the Spirit of SkyWest with MaKenna and show her that we are here to help her accomplish her dream of becoming an airline pilot.”

Father And Son Co-Pilot First Flight Together – Delivery of a New E175

“Roger that Dad, … I mean Captain.”

Brent Wilson, a SkyWest pilot and manager of aircraft operations, along with his son Michael, a newly-minted first officer, recently saw their dreams come true when they operated their first flight together.

It was a special moment for both SkyWest employees as the father-son duo 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.”

“It was a blast and really proud moment for me,” added Brent. “I wasn’t sure we would ever get to fly together. We always talked about it and wanted to, but when Michael first started flight school our schedules never worked out. Then he had some health issues come up and had to take a break. Then with my position without a regular flight schedule we didn’t think we would ever get this opportunity. So to be able to do something like this is truly amazing.”

The day before they left – with the aircraft getting its final checks at the factory – Brent and Michael got to spend some quality father and son time together and experience some of the Brazilian culture.

“We didn’t have a lot of time, but we were able to go to the beach and also try some new food,” said Michael. “It was a great cultural experience and lot of fun.”

The morning of the aircraft delivery, Brent surprised Michael with a gift. As they pulled up to the factory, Brent handed Michael a hat that read, “Bring Your Dad To Work Day.” He then showed him the other hat that read, “Bring Your Son To Work Day” to which they both wore proudly.

“We went all out,” Brent said, jokingly. “It was just something fun to do and everyone loved it and thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

For Brent, the delivery marked a major milestone for him as it was his 50th E175 pickup in Brazil.

“When I got home I looked at my passport and all the stamps I’ve gotten over the years and told everyone ‘I’m going to need a new passport soon,’” he said, laughing. “But it’s been fun seeing all the new aircraft SkyWest has taken lately and we keep getting more.”

With a fleet of 453 aircraft and counting SkyWest continues its dominance as the leading regional airline with more new aircraft and domiciles than any other regional carrier.

“It’s the place to be,” said, Michael. “Not only does SkyWest have a great reputation, but the quality of life along with its new aircraft and domiciles just makes sense. The training is world class and is structured really well. I have friends in other programs who aren’t even out on the line yet. I keep reminding them that they should have come to SkyWest.”

For Michael, his love of flying first started when his dad invited him on a quick trip to drop off a plane to that needed repainting and to pick up the newly-painted jet from the facility in Roswell, New Mexico.

“It definitely sparked my interest for sure,” Michael recalled. “I got to ride in the jump seat and see the whole operation. I just fell in love with it.”

“Michael decided that night that all we (pilots) do is push buttons and so he wanted to have an easy job like that when he grew up,” Brent said joking. “So he decided to join the team and I couldn’t be happier.”

The two made the 6,000 mile journey back from Brazil, joking along the way.
The long journey required a few stops; after taking off from Embraer’s factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, the two flew to Manaus, Brazil; San Juan, Puerto Rico and finally to the United States, landing in Fayetteville, Arkansas before arriving at SkyWest’s hangar in Boise, Idaho to complete the delivery. Both Brent and Michael alternated flying each leg and held a friendly competition between the two.

“We were laughing and joking about who had the better landing,” said Michael. But just to set the record straight, I had the better landing,” he concluded with a smile.

 

SkyWest Pilots Give Back To Aviation Community

Whether its search and rescue missions to finding missing hikers, or coming to the rescue when natural disasters strike (Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.), the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), with its 60,000 members, continues to support communities across the country by donating their time and aviation expertise to provide essential services for those in need.

Photo by Robert Bowden

SkyWest pilots Kyle Curtiss and Matt Creed are among the many volunteers that donate their time to help with the different programs that CAP has to offer. From providing emergency services both on the ground and in the air, to its award-winning aerospace education and cadet programs, CAP – an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force – is providing paths for youth to become aviation leaders.

“I just love watching their eyes light up,” said SkyWest pilot and Flight Operations Supervisor, Kyle Curtiss.

“It’s an experience unlike any other” added SkyWest Assistant Chief Pilot, Matt Creed.

When they are not in the air flying one of SkyWest’s 2200+ daily departures across North America, you can find Kyle and Matt helping out their local CAP units which they help oversee.

“I got started in 2013 and I just love it,” said Curtiss who is now the Central Michigan Group Commander in the CAP program. “I love my job, I love flying and I just wanted to give back and get involved in the aviation community.”

Photo by Robert Bowden

For Matt, who has been involved with CAP for more than two decades and is now the Great Lakes Region Commander, it was love at first flight.

“I got involved with CAP when I was 10 years old. I later became a cadet and I’ll never forget my first lesson. I had great CAP instructors and to be able to pass that on to the younger generation is something that I really enjoy and love to do. They are our future leaders and their excitement is contagious.”

Photo by Robert Bowden

Together, the SkyWest pilots give tours of the facilities and different aircraft. The tours have quickly caught on with units doing so across the state.

“It’s great to show the kids how the operation is run and all the different aspects that go into flying,” said Curtiss. “Their eyes light up when we’ve taken them to the airport to see air traffic control tower. How many people can say they have been able to do that?!”

“We love giving tours and giving the kids that opportunity to experience sitting in the front seat of an airplane and seeing the control tower,” added Creed. “Most kids don’t get to see the operation up close like that, but CAP has allowed us to give them those experiences. It’s awesome!”

Many thanks to Matt and Kyle, as well as all the SkyWest people who volunteer countless hours across the country to make a difference in the lives of others! You are excellent representatives of SkyWest and we thank you for all that you do and for sharing your love of flying.

For those interested in joining SkyWest, you can learn more here.

Photo by Robert Bowden

2018-IAFS-SkyWest CEO Chip Childs

SkyWest CEO Chip Childs Presents At International Aviation Forecast Summit

Nearly 400 airline executives, aircraft manufacturers and industry leaders gathered together in Denver for the 23rd Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit (IAFS) this week to talk about the future of aviation.

The topics discussed included new industry trends, aircraft orders, deliveries and ways to enhance the customer service experience. The four-day event consisted of presentations and discussions from top aviation professionals and senior executives throughout the world, including SkyWest, Inc. President, and Chief Executive Officer, Chip Childs.

Speaking to a large crowd, Childs talked about the success of the company now in its 46th year and how it has become one of the largest regional airlines in the world. With over 17,000 employees operating more nearly 3,000 daily flights, SkyWest Inc., continues to soar to new heights.

2018-IAFS-Chip-Childs

One of the key points in Childs’ presentation was how SkyWest Inc., sits on a solid foundation thanks to its employees as the company attracts and retains some of the top talent in the industry. Combined with a growing fleet and partnerships, pilot pathway programs and being able to adapt and evolve has helped the company continues to deliver what our passengers want, and what our partners need.

So far this year, SkyWest Inc., has signed new and extended flying agreements with several of our mainline partners (American, Delta and United), as well as opening up new domiciles and facilities across the United States. In 2018 alone, SkyWest has seen its fleet grow dramatically with 30 new aircraft — and growing every day. To date, SkyWest has taken delivery of 19 new jets, with 20 more deliveries expected by the end of the year.

Not only is the company the largest regional airline operator in the world, but Pilots coming to SkyWest can expect to fly more new planes than any other regional carrier. This past month, the company received the first-ever CRJ 900 jet with its new state-of-the-art ATMOSPHERE cabin. The aircraft comes equipped with all the latest technology improvements to give passengers a comfortable flight, including the first use of mood lighting on a regional jet.

What makes SkyWest so great is its people, team culture to go along with its guiding principles of respect, teamwork, service, fairness and consistency. This has helped the company evolve and grow despite some challenging times in the aviation industry. Operating over 2,200 flights each day to nearly 250 destinations throughout North America, the company’s growth continues to soar thanks to its 17,000 aviation professionals.

2018-IAFS-SkyWest CEO Chip Childs

SkyWest and Habitat for Humanity Build Up Casper

Justin Giles
Corporate Communications Coordinator

Last weekend, the SkyWest team in Casper, Wyoming (CPR) had the chance to give back to the community by working with Habitat for Humanity to help build and repair homes in the city of Casper. Seven SkyWest team members, along with their families, volunteered their time and hard work for the community they love while the CPR airport was closed for runway construction. Together they nailed away as they assembled and put up walls, adding paint as a finishing touch.

“There is no challenge we will not take on,” said Lea Ursey, SkyWest CPR general manager. “Thank you, SkyWest, for supporting us in our drive to give back to the community.”

This isn’t the first time SkyWest people have gone above and beyond to give back to the communities in which we work and live. Nearly 200 SkyWest employees showcased their commitment to teamwork and quality last year, working alongside Habitat for Humanity to build homes for those in need in Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Interested in joining our team? Learn more and apply online at http://www.skywest.com/skywest-airline-jobs.

How I Became a SkyWest Pilot: Anna Yackshaw

Justin Giles
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.

My Path to Becoming a SkyWest Captain: Jake Nelson

Justin Giles
Corporate Communications Coordinator

When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Jake Nelson always had an answer: a professional airline pilot. He was just 9 when he flew his first airplane, and the rest is history! With help from an encouraging mom and dad as well as many supportive mentors along the way, Jake was able to achieve his dream. Read on for his story of becoming SkyWest Captain Jake Nelson.


Hello everyone! My name is Jake Nelson. I am honored to fly for SkyWest Airlines. I recently accepted the upgrade to CRJ Captain in our new Atlanta domicile, and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone’s path to the airline world is different – that’s what makes this such an exciting industry. This is my story.

I knew I wanted to fly since I was a very little guy. I grew up in the high desert of Los Angeles County, near Edwards Air Force Base. I can remember my parents taking me out to sit near the end of the runway at USAF Plant 42 (also known as Palmdale Regional Airport – KPMD for you fellow AvGeeks!) to watch the airplanes practice in the pattern. I’ve known since then that I belonged in the sky.

Jake’s First Flight

My path to learning to fly was nothing short of magical, and I am honored to have come in contact with some amazing mentors and cheerleaders throughout my journey.

When I was 9 years old, I was given the opportunity to take part in the EAA Young Eagles program. I was taken up in a Cessna 172 and allowed to fly the airplane around my hometown. I circled over my school, my house and around the neighborhood I grew up in. I knew that day that I was born to be a pilot. I never felt more sure of anything in my life. I was encouraged by my family (shout out to Mom and Dad for “letting me do my thing”) and mentors to study hard and chase my dreams of flight. I worked tirelessly through school and spent every spare moment soaking in everything there was to learn about airplanes.

My junior year of high school, I was invited to attend the UND Aerospace summer camp in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I spent a week flying small airplanes, attending aviation seminars and living in the dorms. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in aviation when I graduated high school.

My senior year, I applied for and was accepted to Arizona State University’s professional flight program. I spent three and a half years in Mesa, Arizona, learning how to fly and become a well-rounded professional airline pilot. I was honored to be “First to Solo” amongst my class and eventually earned my Private Pilot license at 18 years old. When I left Arizona State, I was a Multi-Engine Commercial Pilot as well as a Multi-Engine Instrument Certified Flight Instructor.

My “Path to 1500 hours” was an amazing and exciting time in my young life. I flight instructed in the daytime at the Edwards Air Force Base Aero Club, where my first flight as an instructor pilot at the Aero Club was in the very same airplane I had my Young Eagles flight in 13 years earlier! And by night, I flew on behalf of the city of Lancaster for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The days were long, but I reveled in every moment. I think I spent more time in the air than on the ground during that time!

Jake and His Parents

In October of 2013, I applied to become a SkyWest Airlines pilot. There were many factors in my decision to join the SkyWest family, and I was drawn to SkyWest for many reasons. Being a “West Coast guy” I knew that I wanted to join a company that had a large West Coast presence. I also knew that I wanted to join a company with stability and a proven track record of growth and opportunity. While in college, I worked as an intern/instructor for another regional airline. Although I learned a lot from that company, it solidified my decision to join the SkyWest team when I earned the required flight hours.

I was fortunate to receive an offer for First Officer with SkyWest and began ground school in December of 2013. Our ground school class was pretty amazing. It was hard work, but it was incredibly rewarding. I spent nearly a month in Salt Lake City working alongside my classmates and instructors. I made lifelong friends – I have a group text with my classmates that we still talk in every day, nearly five years later!

Captain Swift and Jake

What really impressed me about SkyWest was how they strive to build “the next generation of professional aviators.” Enter: Captain Brian Swift. Captain Brian has been with SkyWest for nearly 30 years. He serves as a Check Airman and is responsible for training new pilots “on the line.” When Captain Brian was introduced to our class, we immediately connected. He would make sure that my study buddies and I were on track during ground school. He even hosted us at his home in Salt Lake for dinner and a review session before our big Systems Validation Test.

After we completed our ground school and proceeded to simulator training, Brian kept tabs on us to make sure we were progressing and made himself available to answer any questions along the way. Captain Brian made it a point to take me on my first flights “on the line.”

I will never forget the excitement and magic of lifting off of runway 16 Left in Salt Lake City for the first time. As I called for “gear up” I remember a huge smile flashing across my face and the soft chuckle Brian let out. “Roger. Gear up. This is pretty amazing, isn’t it partner?”

After Initial Operating Experience (IOE) with Brian, I was based in Minneapolis and after a month in MSP, I was able to transfer to Los Angeles. Life was pretty amazing – I was an airline pilot flying around the West Coast. Nothing made me smile bigger than being cleared to descend via the SADDE6 arrival into Los Angeles (now the IRNMN1 arrival for those AvGeeks following along at home). On a clear Los Angeles night, you could see the whole LA Basin, turning toward the runways right over downtown Los Angeles.

Jake’s First Day as an E175 First Officer

During my time as a First Officer, I had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented and experienced crews. Many captains and flight attendants in our Los Angeles domicile have over 20 years of experience with the company. It is always an honor to share stories and lessons learned from their time in the industry.

I remember sitting at home when the email announcement came about SkyWest opening a new domicile in Atlanta. I had been considering taking the plunge into “captainhood” for a while, but something really seemed right when I saw the email. I knew that when I upgraded I did not want to commute to work. I wanted to live near the airport where I would be working out of. I thought, “It would be pretty easy to fly home to Los Angeles on my days off from Atlanta!”

So I clicked “submit standing bid” for Atlanta CRJ Captain. A few days later, I received the email confirming I was awarded the position. I was over the moon. After jumping up and down with Mom and Dad in excitement, I knew who I had to tell first: Captain Brian! Brian was ecstatic and immediately offered to help with training. I once again accepted his offer for help and guidance. I returned to Salt Lake City for ground school and simulator training, and I was sent to our Fresno and San Francisco domiciles to complete IOE training on the CRJ 200.

Captain Jake Nelson and Captain Bryan Swift

This is where this story gets super awesome. Captain Brian called me one night and told me to “go check SkedPlus!” I was delighted to see that my CRJ 700/900 differences training was scheduled and that Captain Brian would be serving as my Check Airman. When I showed up to the first day of our trip, Brian met me with a huge smile and a hug. “I am so stinkin’ proud of you, Bub!”

Brian presented his Captain Epaulettes that he wore during my initial IOE to me—it was a huge moment for me. The hard work, sweat and, yes, even some tears I put in have finally paid off. I may have let a little tear fall when Wendy, our forward flight attendant, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “Captain, are we good to close the door?” In that moment, I realized, “Oh my gosh. That’s me!” Brian beamed and nodded at me. “Whaddya say Captain Jake?! Let’s go fly airplanes.”


Have you been considering flying for becoming a pilot at SkyWest? Check out our pilot career guide  to learn more and to apply.