Tag Archives: Pilot

SkyWest pilot Ralf Socher on Denali

SkyWest First Officer Reaches 20,000 Feet, Without a Plane

When he’s not climbing to 35,000 feet as a pilot, SkyWest CRJ First Officer Ralf Socher is climbing mountains nearly as high!

This past year, Socher had the chance to traverse and summit Denali. At 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America. This height and it’s location near the Arctic Circle make the mountain prone to extreme weather. Reaching the summit requires discipline, strength and focus; skills that Socher has developed through practice and his experience as a pilot.

SkyWest pilot Ralf Socher on Denali

“Mountaineering, particularly on high, remote peaks like Denali, can be compared to flying in regards to the need for situational awareness and planning,” said Socher. “As with flying, always having an alternate plan in mind in case something changes or goes wrong is critical.”

Socher’s first experience with mountain climbing took place in the Alps when he was 16, but it wasn’t until he was a new hire with SkyWest, based out of Fresno, California (FAT), that mountain climbing became a regular activity.

“As a pilot at SkyWest I appreciate the schedule flexibility that allows me time to go climbing and train for big expeditions like Denali…and with Fresno’s close proximity to Yosemite, I took the opportunity to expand my technical skills often.”

Scaling Denali took Socher and his group 14 days. Along the way he encountered numbingly cold conditions and an exhaustion he had never experienced before. Relying on his training, he was able to overcome the challenges to reach the top.

“In the thin atmosphere, where the sky overhead became midnight blue, I hardly noticed my deep rhythmic breathing. I was focused and feeling light afoot. Excitement hit me as we negotiated a stretch of deep snow along a precarious narrow ridge before joyously striding to the top of North America!”

SkyWest is proud to have so many incredible team members like Ralf Socher who provide exceptional service to millions of passengers each year, while still pursuing their dreams. At SkyWest, there’s no telling just how high you can climb!

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!

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 Cadets Enjoy Night at the Ballpark

SkyWest cadets in the Phoenix area were treated to a night at the ballpark last week, as more than 40 joined SkyWest Airlines to watch the Diamondbacks win on a walk-off home run over the Dodgers at Chase Field. The event was sponsored by SkyWest and gave cadets the chance to interact with pilot recruiters and Tracy Gallo, SkyWest’s VP of Flight Operations, while also enjoying dinner, and a great baseball game!

“It’s a great opportunity for SkyWest cadets to gather, network and learn from pilot recruiters, and in this special case, from the VP of Flight Operations at SkyWest,” said Deanna Konopka, a SkyWest Recruitment Specialist who attended the event. “It was such a fun night to be able to gather CFIs from several surrounding schools and start showing them what the SkyWest culture is all about.”

SkyWest’s evening at the ballpark is just one of several cadet-focused events that have taken place throughout the year. Barbeques, meet and greets, golf tournaments and more complement the opportunities for regular connection with SkyWest mentors SkyWest cadets receive throughout their aviation journey.

The Pilot Pathway Program provides a defined path for those desiring to take control of their aviation careers. Company seniority activates upon becoming a cadet, and pilots earn increased seniority within SkyWest’s ground class. Upon completion of the program, cadets have a guaranteed final interview for a SkyWest first officer position and may become one of SkyWest’s more than 4,000 pilots. Learn more about the Pilot Pathway Program.

 

My SkyWest Journey: Father and Son Take To The Skies

Doug and Alec Wheeler’s shared love of flight led them to follow their dreams to become pilots. Their SkyWest journeys were each different, but this father and son duo pushed their way to become CRJ first officers for SkyWest Airlines and fulfill their goal to become pilots.

When the market crashed in 2008, Doug Wheeler’s RV repair business in Salem, Oregon took a devastating hit.

He had a decision to make; and after seeing his eldest son, Alec Wheeler, enroll in flight school, he decided to continue what he started 30 years prior and pursue his pilot’s license.

“I was first introduced to flight by a family friend at age 13 in his C172,” said Doug. “When we first took off, I was amazed by all of the trees and buildings…I was hooked on flight. Three years later, at age 16 I started flight lessons.”

Doug accrued a total of 23 flight hours before ultimately ending his pursuit of becoming a pilot. He opened his RV repair business in 1994 but flying still remained on his mind.

“Flying was always in the back of my mind. I couldn’t shake it,” explained Doug. “When I had time, I would take the family to air shows in the local area. Alec was my only kid that seemed to be as interested in them as me.”

Doug arranged for Alec to take a flight in a C172, just as he did as a young boy, and Alec too was hooked.

It was this shared love of flight that ultimately led to the pair enrolling in flight school together many years later.

Doug and Alec completed their flight training and together were hired by SkyWest Airlines.

“We chose SkyWest because it’s the best regional airline,” said Alec.

Today, Doug is a CRJ first officer based out of Seattle and Alec is a CRJ first officer based out of Minneapolis. Their hope is to one day fly a trip together.

“Flying side-by-side with my dad would be the culmination of more than a decade of hard work between the two of us and it would be a very cool way to commemorate how well we work together,” added Alec.

“I’m not sure our paths are going to cross, but if they do, it would be so awesome,” said Doug. “We started this adventure together in 2010, and it would be quite the exclamation point to that adventure. We would be sharing our passion flying high and fast.”

Find out what makes SkyWest Airlines the “best regional airline”! Visit www.skywest.com/careers.

SkyWest Bands Together in Relief Efforts

In recent weeks, Mother Nature has made her presence known across the states, with Hurricane Harvey making landfall and devastating parts of Texas and Louisiana, then Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria following in Florida and Puero Rico respectively. In true SkyWest fashion, people stepped forward immediately asking how they could help their team members in need.

SkyWest HomeThankfully, all SkyWest people are safe. However, several have experienced tremendous property loss due to the historic flooding. SkyWest is offering a myriad of resources to support our people, from personal outreach from leaders to SOS: Crisis Fund resources for those in Harvey’s path. Additionally, SOS: Family Assistance is available to those on an approved personal leave of absence to take time to rebuild and recuperate from the flooding. Family Assistance allows SkyWest team members to donate their user and vacation hours to those on an approved leave.

SkyWest Crisis Fund Recipients Rebuilding

SkyWest Crisis Fund Recipients Rebuilding

Since the hurricane, SkyWest people have donated $15,000 to the SOS: Crisis Fund, with those funds going directly to SkyWest employees who’ve experienced loss from Harvey’s path. SkyWest has already granted more than $50,000 to our people and we continue to receive and fund applications as the harsh realities of the storm’s effects settle in.

In addition to directly helping our people, we’ve worked with the Red Cross and donated $10,000 to help provide aide and an American Red Cross Emergency Vehicle in flood areas. We continue to work with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to coordinate efforts on support and relief.

No matter the challenge, SkyWest people are a family and rise to support each other in times of need. And that is the Spirit of SkyWest.

SkyWest Pilot Brings Easter Fun on Flight

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

Many children wake up Easter morning excited to hunt for eggs with their families, and SkyWest Captain Vincent Wood was not going to let the children aboard his flight from Chicago to Atlanta miss that opportunity this year.

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Social Media post from passenger praising Captain Wood.

Captain Wood purchased sealed plastic eggs containing sweet tarts and stickers inside and brought them onboard for kids who may have missed the morning’s festivities. Before departure, Captain Wood walked down the aisle with the green basket, letting each young passenger pick out their favorite egg (after asking permission from their parents). He also offered the treats to any adults who wanted them.

“I figured my kids were getting Easter eggs at home that morning, so the kiddos on the plane should be able to too,” said Captain Wood. “I can’t wait to do it again next year!”

The act of kindness brought joy to the passengers’ Easter morning.

One passenger, Nathan Wood, shared pictures and his thoughts on Facebook thanking the captain, “Wow! What an example of service over and above! … Happy Easter!!!! ”

Captain Wood is a great example of SkyWest’s unique culture where 12,000+ employees are continually going out of their way to provide excellent service. Learn more about SkyWest and opportunities to work with people like Captain Wood on skywest.com/careers.

Read more stories about SkyWest people making a difference.

SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

The SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program provides a direct path for exceptional pilots with a desire to Take Control of their aviation careers. Enhanced seniority, guaranteed final interview, and access to pilot mentors are just a few of the upgrades students can receive by becoming a SkyWest Cadet on your way to becoming one of SkyWest’s more than 4,000 professional pilots.

Check out what some of our mentor’s have to say about the program in the video below!

Unlike an internship, the Pilot Pathway Program allows students to remain at their campus to complete their flight training until they are able to meet SkyWest’s Airline Transport Pilot standards. Program highlights include:

  • Company seniority for benefits eligibility activates as soon as you’re a cadet
  • Top seniority within your SkyWest ground school class
  • Enhanced introduction to SkyWest including flight and lodging to SkyWest SLC domicile for tour of facilities
  • Mentorship from SkyWest pilots
  • Guaranteed final interview

The SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program prepares a clear path for pilots to launch their career at SkyWest Airlines, where you enjoy the strong culture of professionalism, teamwork and success that SkyWest is known for. Why wait? Apply Today!