Tag Archives: Making a Difference

Pilots Complete Heroic Rescue Mission in California

From right to left: SGT Cameron Powell, SGT George Esquivel,W5 Joseph Rosamond, CW2 Brady HlebainSkyWest people are known for going above and beyond and it’s not just limited to our flights. Brady Hlebain, a SkyWest first officer, and Joseph Rosamond, a member of SkyWest’s pilot cadet program, who are part of the California National Guard, flew a CH-47 Chinook helicopter that helped rescue more than 200 people trapped near Mammoth Lakes California.

The call for assistance came in on Saturday, September 5. Hlebain and Rosamon, along with their flight engineers, Sgt. Cameron Powell and Sgt. George Esquivel, knew that the night flight would not be an easy one. A view from the flight deck

“I have done search and rescue missions, hundreds of combat hours overseas, as well as aerial firefighting, but this mission was very complex and dynamic to say the least,” said Hlebain. “Our team was an experienced group of guys who are all experienced in missions of this nature. We constantly train with night vision goggles, mountain flying, high-elevation, limited power margin, multi-ship flight, navigation in unfamiliar areas, dust landings, low visibility flight, firefighting, unimproved landing zones and first aid. However, it is rare that we do all of those things at the same time.”

The team was given coordinates of the location of those needing to be rescued, but had no idea how many people would need their help. As they were flying, they soon realized the coordinates they were given were not as accurate as they had hoped. Even as visibility dropped due to high flames and smoke, the team did not give up and were able to get Night Vision new coordinates. They flew from ridge to ridge, avoiding the clouds and smoke as best they could, before finally landing in the wee hours of the morning at the Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest.

Flying the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, Rosamond and Hlebain made multiple trips to save more than 200 people from the fast-moving forest fire. They were assisted by another team flying a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. With so many unique challenges on top of tough conditions, this mission was one of the most difficult of their careers.

“The only word I can use to describe it is Apocalyptic,” added Rosamond. “It was extremely difficult to see the terrain and what was in front of us. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but our crew worked perfectly together, which allowed us to accomplish our task.”

Hlebain said the team didn’t want to be made out as heroes and noted that they are tremendously grateful to their families for their sacrifice and for allowing them to do these kinds of missions.

“The recent media coverage has made us out to be heroes, but our team agreed that we didn’t do Mammoth Lakeanything that any other aircrews wouldn’t have done had they been in the same situation,” said Hlebain. “We were only one piece of the operation and couldn’t have done it without the help of local EMTs, police, firefighters and many other agencies.”

“The bravery from each and every crew member on board both the CH-47 and the UH-60 were amazing and I could not have done it without them,” added Rosamond. “They each made a personal choice to continue into the worst of conditions.”

When he’s not fighting fires and participating in search and rescue missions, Hlebain can often be found onboard one of SkyWest’s nearly 500 jets flying passengers to destinations across North America.

While balancing two jobs at once is a challenge for anyone – especially in the aviation industry – Those recused during part of the operation Hlebain added that he is grateful for SkyWest and the support he has received which has allowed him to do both.

“Knowing two different aircraft, two sets of rules, and especially balancing two schedules can be difficult,” he said. “That being said, SkyWest has been incredibly supportive and provides me the opportunity to do both. When there is a conflict of schedules, SkyWest has been nothing short of perfect for my work/work/life balance.”

Thank you, Brady, Joseph, and the rest of your team for your efforts, bravery, dedication and sacrifice to save the lives of so many.

SkyWest Fantasy Flight Flies Children to The North Pole!


For the 13th year running, SkyWest Airlines flew a group of children to “the North Pole” as part of the annual Fantasy Flight at Colorado Springs Airport! Together with the Junior League of Colorado Springs (JLCS) and CPCD…giving children a head start, SkyWest welcomed nearly 30 children and their families to enjoy a night full of magic, joy and laughter.

Those in attendance were able to participate in a number of activities, including ornament making, dinner, playing with the Go Team Therapy Crisis Airport Dogs, and of course, flying on a CRJ700 to the North Pole.

While in the air, the SkyWest crews prepared the children for their magical destination by playing games and singing Christmas carols across the night sky.

“I’m just so proud to be a member of the SkyWest team,” offered Captain Richard Lucci. “It’s an honor for me to fly.”

Once on the ground, the children were met by Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and Mrs. Claus, and cheers of delight filled the air as they walked up the jet bridge to the fully decorated terminal of the Colorado Springs Airport.

Each child then had the chance to sit on Santa’s lap and was presented with a bag full of toys picked specifically for them—the perfect ending to an unforgettable night.

“One of the reasons why I came to SkyWest is because they are so involved with the community,” said First Officer Kirksey Hagan. “Getting to be a part of SkyWest and the opportunity to open our ‘new route’ to the North Pole means the world to me and shows that SkyWest does a whole lot for the kids in the community.”

Many thanks to all of the SkyWest teams who helped make the event possible through countless hours of coordination and expertise.

Interested in working for a company that makes a positive difference in the community? Click here to see career opportunities at SkyWest.

Celebrating SkyWest’s Third Year at Wings for Autism

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

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

Get a glimpse of what it was like:

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

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

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

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

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

SkyWest pilot with D-Day veteran

SkyWest Salutes D-Day Veteran on 75th Anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

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!

Now Boarding to the North Pole – SkyWest Fantasy Flight in COS

“I don’t think there’s another place in the world tonight with more magic than right here, right now.”

Few things bring as much awe and wonder to children as flying in an airplane. Throw in a flight to the “North Pole” and you have a night of magic and fantasy.

For the 12th straight year, the SkyWest team helped bring the true spirit of the holiday season to children in Colorado Springs with the annual Fantasy Flight to the North Pole. The event provides the magic of Christmas to underprivileged children and their families.

Together with the Junior League of Colorado Springs (JLCS) and CPCD…giving children a head start, SkyWest welcomed more than 30 children and their families to the Colorado Springs Airport to enjoy a day full of joy and laughter.

Those in attendance were able to participate in a number of activities, including ornament making, face painting, corn hole, dinner, playing with the Go Team Therapy Crisis Airport Dogs, visiting with local Olympians and of course, flying on a CRJ700 to the North Pole.

“This was a crazy-awesome experience,” said one parent. “I was so excited for my daughter.”

While in the air, SkyWest flight attendants Linda Kracht, Nayomie Burns and Charlene Theobald joined in games and carols with the kids, singing their way across the night sky.

Upon arrival at the North Pole, the children were greeted by Santa and Mrs. Claus and together made their way up the jet bridge to the fully decorated terminal of the Colorado Springs Airport, courtesy of the SkyWest team in COS.

There, the children told the jolly old elf himself what they wanted for Christmas and were surprised with gifts picked out specifically for them!

“It makes me feel very fortunate and happy that I’m here at SkyWest and that SkyWest is participating in something that gives back to the community so much,” said COS CRJ Captain Curt Young.

Many thanks to SkyWest General Manager Jamie Young and her team as well as all of those at SkyWest who helped make the event possible through countless hours of coordination and expertise.

Read more about SkyWest people making a difference 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.