Author Archives: Caitlin Miller

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Holiday Fun in Muskegon with the Singing Christmas Tree!

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

Travelers seeking unique holiday fun should look no farther than Muskegon, Michigan, home to America’s tallest, singing Christmas tree! Every year, thousands of hours are spent planning and preparing for the event by local students, teachers and parents from Mona Shores High School. The end result: a living, breathing Christmas tree that stands five-stories tall and holds more than 200 singing students!

Singing Christmas Tree

The Singing Christmas Tree is a sight to see!

Hour-long practices begin just after Labor Day as students prepare songs like, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” As the event draws nearer, the 67-foot steel tree is set up on the stage of the Muskegon Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts. Hundreds of volunteers place the 850 pieces of steel to build the tree frame, orchestrate and dress up the students, and decorate the tree with over 5,000 feet of garland and 25,000 twinkling lights!

The student at the top of the tree, known as “The Tree Angel,” is a high school senior nominated by the choir director. Most students can’t wait to move up the tree, as they start at the bottom as freshman and move closer to the top each year.Singing Christmas Tree 3

Now in its 31st year, the singing Christmas tree continues to grow in popularity. It was featured on TLC’s “Extreme Christmas Trees” in 2011 and in 2013 on the Travel Channel’s “Jingle Brawls.”

Over 5,000 people kick off their holiday season every year with a visit to the tree. This year will also feature a new look thanks to an updated structure and more LED lighting. The 2015 performances will be at 7 p.m. on December 3, 4 and 5 with an additional matinee performance at 3 p.m. on December 5. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

Travel to Muskegon with SkyWest Airlines flights, operating as United Express, from Chicago O’Hare. Find the best fares at united.com.

Don Mortimer – GCC Cross Utilized Agent.

Kindness Leads to One Last Goodbye

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

In late August, a couple was traveling through Gillette, Wyoming when they received a phone call no parent ever wants to receive: their son had been in a car accident in West Virginia and was being taken by Life Flight to a nearby hospital. They felt helpless being so far away from home and unable to rush to the hospital to be with their son.

That’s when Don Mortimer, a SkyWest cross utilized agent in Gillette, noticed their distress. Don stayed at the airport two hours after closing to help them find a way home. He didn’t want to leave until new flights were booked and he had them checked in.

Don Mortimer – GCC Cross Utilized Agent.

Don Mortimer – SkyWest cross utilized agent

But Don didn’t stop there. The next morning, he met the couple at the airport and continued to help them through their terrible situation. He ended up flying with them to Salt Lake City to ensure they made their connecting flight home.

With Don’s well wishes, the family made it home and was at their son’s side when he passed away two days later.54eca2268aad9.image

In a letter describing their experience, the family expressed their gratitude for the compassion and kindness Don showed by giving them precious moments with their son; something that they will never forget.

“Thank you, Don, for giving us those last few hours with him. We will forever be grateful. We just wanted SkyWest to know that they have a very special person working for them and he went above and beyond. Let him know how much we appreciate him.”

Don’s actions are a great example of the effort that many SkyWest employees make every day to provide exceptional care to their passengers and to help those around them.

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Experience “Minnesota’s Playground” in Brainerd, MN

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

When planning a trip to the lake-surrounded, Minnesota town of Brainerd, prepare for unique lodging, plenty of outdoor fun and a calendar of exciting events happening all year long!Brainerd

Here’s a quick look at some of the standouts for the year:

  • January: Ice Fishing Extravaganza – the largest charitable ice fishing contest in the world where over 10,000 people gather on Gull Lake for a chance at a great catch and hundreds of prizes!Ice Fishing
  • February: Frozen Fore Winter Festival – the world’s largest snowmobile and pond hockey event on Gull Lake. Play nine “holes” of golf on the frozen lake, fill up at the food fest and jam to live music!
  • June: Lakes Jam Music Fest – three days of music at the Brainerd International Raceway. With country, classic rock and the blues, Lake Jam has music for everyone!
  • July: Paul Bunyan Extreme 5K – a race like no other made for the whole family! The course is filled with challenging obstacles, including a rope swing, mud pits, a dumpster dive in ice water, and a climb up Paul Bunyan’s 16-foot tall boot, just to name a few!
  • August: Lucas Oil Nationals – the racing event of the year at the Brainerd International Raceway! Watch the world’s best drag racers compete on the fastest drag strip in the country!race car
  • October: Oktoberfest at the Arb – German wines, beer, food and music! Later in the month, don’t miss the Gerital Frolics – the popular musical variety show in vaudeville fashion where every performer is over age 55!
  • December: Winter Wonderland – a drive-through spectacle of beautiful lights strung into captivating displays.

From May to September, a visit to the Safari North Wildlife Park in Brainerd is also a must. Here visitors have an opportunity to see wildlife from five continents! Feed a giraffe and ride a camel at the park before heading to Paul Bunyan Land which immerses visitors in the life of the famous folktale lumberjack. Paul

And with so many fun activities to keep travelers busy, a good place to check in and hang out is the Arrowwood Lodge. The rooms are so big, they call them cabins! Also, the lodge houses its own indoor Paul Bunyan Water Park with over 30,000 square feet of activities and adventure.

Plan a Brainerd getaway today with convenient flights on SkyWest Airlines, operating as Delta Connection, from Minneapolis. Find the best fares and more travel info at delta.com.

SkyWest crew with the family.

SkyWest Crews Going the Extra Mile

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

SkyWest is home to countless caring and considerate employees. Recently, three stories about some of our incredible crews were shared with us that illustrate the type of people who make up the SkyWest family.


On a recent trip in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City based SkyWest Flight Attendant Jill Roundy noticed a small detail about one of her young passengers.

“He had a Make-A-Wish button on his shirt. Passengers may think we don’t pay attention to them but we really do,” Jill said. “This is the reason I’m a flight attendant. Everyone has somewhere to go with a purpose: a wedding, funeral, job interview, promotion or a birth of a child. We do our best to get them there and with the best intentions to read their mannerisms. But this was a first for me.”

SkyWest crew with the family.

SkyWest Crew (Flight Attendants Jill Roundy and Lacey Finnell, First Officer Aiden Eye and Captain Charles Butler) with the family.

The young boy and his family were on their trip home from fulfilling his wish to go to a concert of his favorite artist. Jill and the rest of her crew took the time to make the family’s trip special, giving them an extra tour of the aircraft after it landed. The little boy was thrilled at the opportunity and after looking into the flight deck, he asked Jill if he could sit in the captain’s seat. Captain Charles Butler was happy to oblige and stepped out as First Officer Aiden Eye took the time showing this young passenger the controls on the flight deck while explaining their functions.

“This only shows that the employees at SkyWest are by far just one great big family caring for the people that fly with us!” said Jill. “Happy to be part of the family.”


A brave six-year-old girl was having a tough day. As her family arrived at the airport in the evening, they made their way to the shuttle for a ride to the parking lot. As the young girl boarded the bus with her parents, noticing there were no open seats, Palm Springs based First Officer, Joe Myers, stood up to give his seat to the mother and daughter.

The girl has lost all of her hair as a result of cancer treatments. During the shuttle ride, a little boy made a comment to the girl about her lack of hair, and she began to cry. As the family got off the bus, Joe walked over to the little girl and told her she was the prettiest little girl he had ever seen. He then took off his hat and showed her his own bald head, telling her she was very special. Joe made her night when he removed the wings from his shirt and pinned them on her, telling her he was making her an honorary pilot.

First Officer Joe Myers

First Officer Joe Myers

Joe made the girl laugh when he jokingly told her, “Boys are made of cotton and are rotten!” before thanking the parents and walking away. The parents were in tears and so moved by Joe’s compassion and love toward their daughter that they went the extra mile to contact SkyWest and share their gratitude for First Officer Myers.

“I was blessed that night,” said Joe. “That little girl touched my heart and gave me far more than I could have ever given her. When I pinned my wings on her, I told her that pilots don’t cry and she could fly with me anytime. Maybe with some prayers she will be able to fly for SkyWest someday! I didn’t do anything that another SkyWest employee wouldn’t have done when faced with the same situation. I feel so fortunate to SkyWest and my wife Jackie for allowing me to pursue my dream! This is a family that I am so proud to be a part of.”

That night the little girl wouldn’t part with the wings and slept in her shirt with the wings safely secured on it. Even now, she will not take them off.


While boarding a flight in Seattle, Tiffany Miller, a Salt Lake City-based flight attendant, noticed one impeccably dressed young woman.

“Out of the corner of my eye I saw her turn around, so I turned to meet her sweet face. Tears were welling up in her eyes, and she spoke to me in a voice I haven’t heard in a while,” Tiffany said. “It was the same tone my children would have when there were monsters under their bed. ‘I’m very scared. Is it going to be really bumpy?’ and after hearing herself she openly started to sob.”

The passenger explained that she flies a lot but just passed through a storm that had “terrifying turbulence.” Tiffany told her that she too had just been through a similar storm, but that she anticipated that everything was going to be fine on the short flight and that she was in very capable hands.

Tiffany then went up to the flight deck to find that Captain Carl Wager had witnessed the exchanged and was wondering what he could do to help. He offered to go back and talk with the girl if she would find it reassuring. The young lady, still full of fear, accepted the offer. Carl went back to her seat, taking up precious moments needed to stay on schedule, to let the passenger know that he understood her fears and was aware of his tremendous responsibility to keep everyone safe.

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Captain Carl Wager speaking with passenger

“I am always confident with my pilots. I am grateful for the level of training, skill and knowledge they work hard to possess. Today I was truly grateful to also have a wonderful and kindhearted captain,” Tiffany said. “I looked down the aisle to see a very relaxed, very sweet moment. It was one that I hope I never forget. It was empathy in action: pure and simple.”

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Meet a Famous Duo and Enjoy the Outdoors in Bemidji, MN!

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

It’s nearly impossible to travel through the northern, woodsy town of Bemidji, Minnesota without noticing the giant statues of legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox!  The famed statues were built in 1937 to celebrate the logging industry and still sit near the shore of Lake Bemidji, welcoming everyone who comes to visit. And thanks to everyone who has stopped to take a picture with the dynamic duo, the statues have become known as the second-most photographed icon in the nation.

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After visiting Paul Bunyan and Babe, a number of other outdoor attractions and recreation await. Five miles north of Bemidji lies Movil Maze, a 913-acre recreational area with over 14 kilometers of intermediate and expert trails that are open year-round. Trails are groomed and maintained to create the finest experience for those enjoying downhill skiing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, running, sightseeing or mountain biking. Be on the lookout for whitetail deer, bald eagles and black bears.

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Minnesota’s oldest state park, Itasca State Park, encompasses more than 32,000 acres with over 100 lakes, and the east entrance is only about 30 miles from Bemidji. The park was established in 1891 as a way to preserve the area that surrounds the start of the Mississippi River as it begins its 2,552-mile journey toward the Gulf of Mexico. Being able to see the source of the mighty Mississippi River is part of what makes the park such a famous North American landmark. Visitors will enjoy the short hike to the river headwaters, where there are a number of informative displays, and a great lunch at the Headwaters Café. There are also opportunities for fishing and camping under the star-filled skies. Plus, Itasca is an excellent place for premier bird watching, with over 222 species recorded!

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Fly right into Bemidji (BJI) on a SkyWest Airlines flight, operating as Delta Connection. from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP). To find the best fares, head to delta.com.

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SkyWest Flight Attendant Brings Help to Cambodian Orphans

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

Having dealt with years of well-documented corruption and social unrest, Cambodia stands as one of the poorest countries in the world. Access to education, sanitation and nutrition is minimal in many locations, and non-existent for some. Many children begin working at a young age in horrendous conditions, exposing them to many risks, including disease, drug abuse and sexual violence.

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That’s where Mendy Field, a SkyWest flight attendant based in Palm Springs, California comes in. For the past seven years, Mendy has organized trips to Cambodia to help children in need. She first learned about the need while working alongside a Cambodian war refugee in Irvine, California for six years. There Mendy heard stories of the extreme poverty many are facing and knew she wanted to do something to help. After a trip to an orphanage in Mexico to deliver supplies, Mendy realized she could make the same deliveries to orphans in Cambodia.

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“It’s an adventure and a mission to help children learn and change that country,” said Mendy.

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Mendy made her first journey to Cambodia by herself and discovered an orphanage by asking locals at a hotel lobby about where she could find children she could help. Since then her efforts have continued to expand. Recently, she started her own non-profit organization called We See Light. Their mission is to help put an end to sex trafficking through education, building safe houses for children being rescued from brothels, and providing basic necessities like food, clothes and hygiene supplies.

“My goal is to build more safe houses for children who have been rescued from brothels,” said Mendy. “It’s not going to get better unless people go help them.”

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This summer, Mendy will be heading back to Cambodia to visit the orphanages and to deliver supplies that she has collected from other SkyWest employees. In fact, so much has been donated that several additional employees will likely join Mendy to help with the deliveries. Their efforts are a great example of what many SkyWest aviation professionals are doing around the world to help those in need.

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Enjoy Outdoor Fun in Muskegon, Michigan All Year!

Outdoor Fun in Muskegon

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

A visit to the beautiful shores of Muskegon, Michigan is a great choice any time of the year.  During the winter, extreme sports and unbeatable, snow-related fun abounds, while warmer months provide music festivals, water activities, and 26 miles of sandy beaches! No matter what the calendar says, an outdoor adventure awaits in this Western Michigan town!

The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex provides a place for exciting winter fun. Start by lacing up the skates for some time on the family skating rink, hockey rinks, or quarter-mile ice skating trail. More daring adventurists will love a trip down the luge. The Olympian-designed track allows participants to reach speeds of up to 30 mph! Afterward, spend some time cross country skiing on the longest-lit trail in the Midwest, race down the sledding hill, or snowshoe on one of three tracks, each designed for different experience levels.

Enjoying luge fun in Muskegon

Back in town, visitors can warm up while viewing a world-class collection of visual art at the Muskegon Museum of Art. Special exhibitions are also showcased throughout the year, including the Festival of Trees in the fall.

As the weather gets warmer, the outdoor fun only gets better. Flip upside down on a roller coaster or cool off in the water park at Michigan’s Adventure. The park is the largest amusement park and water park in Michigan with more than 60 rides and attractions. One of the most popular rides is Shivering Timbers, a long, fast, wooden roller coaster that reaches speeds of up to 65 mph.

Michigan's Adventure in Muskegon

The summer is also the perfect time to explore the three nearby state parks or to go boating, fishing or swimming on Lake Michigan. For a stunning bird’s eye view of the lake, tour a nearby historical lighthouse.

Beautiful Lighthouses near Muskegon

It’s easy to get to Muskegon with convenient SkyWest Airlines flights, operating as United Express, from Chicago O’Hare. Find the best fares and more travel info at united.com.

Stunning Scenery Sets St. George, Utah Apart

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Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

Few places in the world can compare to the stunning scenery in Southern Utah, making it a must-see destination for travelers who are looking for gorgeous landscapes, relaxation, solitude, adventure and inspiration.

St. George, Utah (SGU) is the perfect starting point to begin the scenic adventure of a lifetime. The city is conveniently located near three National Parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon, as well as Cedar Breaks National Monument. There are also numerous State Parks including, Snow Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Gunlock, Quail Lake and Sand Hollow. In any other state these areas would be National Parks but here natural beauty seems to be everywhere.

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One of the gems of Southern Utah and the most popular destination in the area is Zion National Park. Zion is about an hour drive northeast of St. George and welcomes approximately three million visitors a year. For those visiting the park, the little town of Springdale right at the entrance can be used as a convenient base when exploring everything Zion has to offer. It’s also home to some of the best restaurants in Southern Utah! So while a packed lunch can help ensure visitors don’t miss out on anything in the park, the breakfast and dinner options in Springdale are exceptional and shouldn’t be missed! Oscar’s Cafe is the all-around local favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is known for their hiker’s granola, ribs, sandwiches, burgers, southwest dishes and incredible sweet potato fries. For some additional variety, the Bit and Spur Restaurant and Saloon or The Spotted Dog are both fantastic dining options.

When accessing the park, it’s simple to hop on one of the complimentary shuttles that run up the canyon from April through October, or just driving in during the winter months. Once inside, the two must-do hikes are Angels Landing and the Narrows. Angels Landing is about five miles roundtrip and usually takes four to five hours to complete. The trail starts at the bottom of the canyon, and climbs 1,500 feet to a point on top of a pinnacle in the middle of the canyon. The views from the top can’t be replicated, but note that anyone who is nervous about heights should proceed with caution as it’s a bird’s eye view! The Narrows starts at the Riverside Walk trail and continues up the Virgin River where the canyon continually becomes more narrow – at times only 20 feet wide. The hike is literally in the river, so those making their way up should be prepared to get wet! This is a great hike to do at virtually any pace, trekking up along the river and turning back whenever needed.

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Those with time for just one of these two iconic hikes should choose the Narrows in the summer and Angels Landing in the winter. The Narrows is great for the summer when temperatures are often over 100 degrees, because hiking in the water makes it easy to stay nice and cool. Angels Landing, on the other hand, can get very busy in the summer and is more enjoyable in the winter when crowds and temperatures are down. While these are the two most popular hikes in the canyon, there are dozens of other hikes to keep even the most advanced adventure seekers busy for days.

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After exploring Zion National Park, visitors should plan to spend some time enjoying the scores of other entertaining activities in the area. Within the St. George area, there are more than 50 mountain biking trails, the most popular of which are the Gooseberry Mesa trails, Zen Trail, Bear Claw Poppy, Barrel Roll, J.E.M. and Little Creek. For hiking outside of Zion or the state parks, the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve offers more than 60,000 acres of desert that is just waiting to be explored. For fun in the water, Gunlock, Sand Hollow and Quail Lake State Parks each offer areas to swim, boat, fish, cliff dive or just relax. And with more than 300 days of sunshine a year and mild temperatures, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of all the different outdoor activities.

Of course after spending so much time outside, many travelers will turn to serenity through pampering at one of two world-class spas: Red Mountain and Green Valley. Each offers a full selection of treatments that can help guest rejuvenate while surrounded by beautiful desert landscapes.

With such stunning scenery and so many diverse activities, be sure to get here quick! Delta Connection flights from Salt Lake City, Utah, and United Express flights from Denver, Colorado – all operated by SkyWest Airlines – are available daily. Book today at www.Delta.com or united.com.

SkyWest Airlines’ Mini Indy 2014 a Success!

SkyWest Airlines Mini Indy

Caitlin Miller
People Programs Coordinator

SkyWest Airlines’ Mini Indy 2014 is a wrap! In March, 30 companies from around the world traveled to St. George, Utah to compete in a go-kart race. Why would multi-billion dollar companies travel Utah to drive a go-kart that travels 23 mph? Other than the intense racing action, these racers gather for a greater cause – helping those in need!

Mini Indy is an annual charity event that takes place in SkyWest Airlines’ hometown – St. George, Utah. Every year, hundreds of people from companies around the world come pouring into St. George for four days of adrenaline pumping competition including go-kart racing, pit-stop competitions, golfing and fine dining.

SkyWest Mini Indy Race Day

Over the last 14 years, SkyWest Airlines, in partnership with the City of St. George, has raised more than a million dollars for the United Way Dixie, an organization that funds 16 community partners like Habitat for Humanity and the Dove Center.

To put it into perspective, thanks to the funds from just one Mini Indy, 23 families were moved from the streets to permanent living conditions, 12 children were placed with a Big Brother, Big Sister mentor, and 171 domestic violence victims received legal representation. And these success stories come from just three of the 16 organizations that receive funds from Mini Indy. SkyWest is committed to giving back to the communities where employees live and work, and Mini Indy is just one example of that focus.

While SkyWest Airlines’ Mini Indy is an opportunity for companies to network, mingle and have a good time, the impact stretches far beyond the track. It directly influences the lives of those living and working in Southern Utah.

SkyWest Mini Indy 2014