Tag Archives: SkyWest Airlines

Experience Pays: First Officer Balances Career and Family with SkyWest 121 Program

Lucy Czupryn, a SkyWest Airlines E175 first officer based in Chicago, started her career as a pilot flying for a different 121 operator. She spent five years gaining valuable flight experience and building her seniority. Then, she shifted her focus to starting a family and left aviation.

“When I started my family, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to come back to aviation,” said Czupryn. “SkyWest made it possible for me to come back to what I love doing. We have several programs to foster and encourage women to return to the workforce.”

When Czupryn returned to the workforce, she decided to take advantage of the SkyWest Industry Experience Credit program. This program offers pilots a pay credit match for their years of FAR 121 experience, up to 10 years. The match also applies credit for 401(k) matching, profit sharing, and leave time accrual.Lucy Czupryn“Prior to that program, there wasn’t anywhere to go to make a lateral move,” said Czupryn. “The 121 program made it an easy choice to pick SkyWest because with my experience prior to my leave, I was able to start at SkyWest with a higher hourly wage. This program made it affordable for me to return to the workforce.”

Czupryn also leaned on the SkyWest Family Support Committee as she balanced raising a family and returning to the skies. The committee, formed in conjunction with the SkyWest Airlines Pilot Association, is a group of SkyWest peers dedicated to supporting women and men through welcoming a new child into an aviation family. This committee provides support through the leave of absence processes, fitness for duty while pregnant and during postpartum, maternity uniform exchanges, pumping, or weaning in preparation to return to work, financial planning for parenthood and one-on-one mentoring.

Through this program, SkyWest provided Czupryn a stable and supportive place to resume her professional pilot career.

“With my flexible schedule, I get to fly and still spend quality time with my family helping at the school, watching their games and practices, or just cuddling and watching movies together.”

Czupryn lives in Northwest Indiana with her husband and four children and loves taking her family on adventures. She enjoys seeing new places and expects her career to one day take her to the stars.

“When I was little, I always wanted to be an astronaut,” said Czupryn, who is still striving for space. “I love flying. I love being above the clouds and looking out at the world.”

With her parents’ support, Czupryn grew up attending science camps and classes at local college campuses. She learned to assemble computers and studied successful women, including her own mom. Czupryn’s mother graduated from Purdue University in the first class of computer science majors and set an example for her daughter of being a woman in a male-dominated field.

In high school, Czupryn set her sights on becoming a professional pilot. She followed her mother’s footsteps to Purdue, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in professional flight and a master’s degree in aviation technology while flight instructing to gain flight hours.

“I love the technical challenge of operating aircraft. It’s exhilarating to take off and land such a large vessel and bring people safely from point A to point B,” said Czupryn. “Connecting people to important events in their lives brings me enjoyment as well.”

Czupryn is one of several SkyWest employees who attended the 2020 Women in Aviation International conference. She encourages prospective aviators to keep studying and work hard. “Don’t give up. Find other professionals in the field to talk to about their journey,” Czupryn advises. “And make sure to check out ‘SkyBest’!”

To learn more about the opportunities available at SkyWest and how you can receive industry experience credit, click here.

Dispatch Doubles: Twins Share Their Experience as SkyWest Aircraft Dispatchers

Matt and Mike Jacox – identical twins and dispatchers at SkyWest Airlines – are used to all of the double takes and questions that come with being identical twins.

“When we first started at SkyWest, we had different shifts and people would call us the wrong name because we looked and sounded so much alike,” said Matt. “We’re used to it so we didn’t mind, but we did have some fun with it.”

In fact, Matt and Mike have fully embraced the twin lifestyle. They received their pilot’s license at the same time, the brothers are also brothers-in-law after marrying sisters on the same day, and to top it off, the brothers are also next-door neighbors.

“We’ve been best friends since I can remember and the only thing we don’t agree on is avocados and who was really born first,” laughed Mike.

Naturally, it was only fitting that both Matt and Mike were hired at SkyWest, on the same day, and in the same department.

“We’ve always been together,” said Mike. “We probably have too much fun with it, but it’s really the best thing ever!”

The Jacox twins are no strangers to SkyWest as their mother, Becky, was a flight attendant for eight years before retiring to spend more time with her grandkids. Every time Matt and Mike visit, Becky asks how things are going and reminisces about her time at SkyWest.

“I wanted to keep flying, but I ran out of days off,” Becky said jokingly. “With 10 kids, 27 grandkids under the age of 11 and four weddings in one year, it was time for me to be with my family. But SkyWest will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Matt and Mike were first introduced to the aviation industry thanks to their father, who is currently a pilot at FedEx.

“Our dad would always take us flying when he could and we quickly caught the aviation bug,” said Matt. “It was a lot of fun and a great experience!”

Although working for an airline company and flying commercially is something that both Matt and Mike have always wanted to do, they knew it would be awhile until they accrued the necessary 1,500 hours of flight time to be a commercial pilot. When their parents suggested they look into aircraft dispatching, Matt and Mike jumped at the opportunity to get started with their aviation career.

“Honestly, we had no idea what an aircraft dispatcher position entailed,” said Mike. “However, it ended up being a huge blessing for us because not only did we get to start working earlier at SkyWest, but we also got to see a different side of the operation. There is a lot that goes into an airline operation and being a dispatcher gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how it all comes together.”

After getting a 10-20 minute weather briefing before starting their 10-hour shift, SkyWest dispatchers watch over and build approximately 50 flights per day. They ensure as many variables as possible are taken into consideration to ensure each flight is ready to go in order to help every aircraft get to their destination safely, and on time.

“There is a lot of work that goes into getting flights off the ground,” said Matt. “Some people think we just click a couple of buttons and that’s it, but in reality, there’s so much more that goes on for each flight. As a dispatcher, our job is to keep everyone safe, give the pilots as much information as possible and to help each other so that our customers can get to where they need to go.”

From planning flights paths and making sure there is enough fuel for each flight, to reviewing airport conditions, airspace restrictions, turbulence forecasts, and thunderstorms, aircraft dispatchers have a lot of responsibilities.

“As a dispatcher, we are getting calls from pilots who have questions and we need to know it,” said Mike. “It’s always exciting when I can answer their questions and it makes me feel important and that what I’m doing is really making an impact.”

“After a flight is completed we’ll get calls from pilots thanking us for our help and letting us know that everything went smoothly,” added Matt. “It’s also really rewarding to know the role we can help play in ensuring passengers make their connections and arrive at their destinations on time!”

Other perks in the position include a four-day workweek, which allows more time to travel or to spend with family.

For those looking to enter the aviation industry as an airline dispatcher, the Jacox twins have a few words of advice:

“The biggest surprise is the amount of knowledge you need,” said Matt. “I continue to learn new things every day. After I was certified I thought I knew a lot, and then I came here and realized that it there was so much more that I needed to learn. The training at SkyWest has been fantastic and has allowed me to really understand the operation and how everything works with each of our mainline partners.”

“People always told me that SkyWest has the best dispatch positions because they have the best training,” added Mike. “And it’s true. SkyWest provides top-notch training and everyone is willing to go the extra mile and help each other out. We love working here!”

To learn more about becoming a part of the SkyWest family, please visit our Career Guide.

Flight Attendants Spring Into Action

SkyWest’s more than 4,000 flight attendants provide exceptional service and help to tens of thousands of passengers every day. They’re also well trained to respond to a variety of emergency situations, including unexpected medical problems.

On Oct. 18, SkyWest flight 5596, operating as United Express, was flying from Chicago to Halifax, Nova Scotia when a passenger notified Rachel Bessey and Sandy Yeary that her child was acting strangely. She said the girl was having a hard time breathing and was lethargic. Rachel and Sandy sprang into action, requesting assistance from medical professionals onboard and providing support as the young passenger was attended to.

“I went straight into what we needed to do, we ended up using quite a bit of [medical] equipment on the plane,” recalled Rachel.

Both Rachel and Sandy said this was the worst medical issue they have ever had on board, but trusting the training and the medical staff, made the difference.

“By re-iterating the policies and procedures in your mind, when an emergency occurs (as the one we experienced), our actions were calm and second nature,” said Sandy.

Photo of: Rachel Bessy and Sandy YearyPrior to landing, the crew requested medical personnel meet the aircraft in Halifax and the passenger was transported immediately to the hospital. Doctors at the hospital identified that the passenger was suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Her mother disclosed that they were shocked to learn their 13-year-old daughter has Type 1 diabetes. We are grateful to learn that she has since improved and been released from the hospital.

“The medical professionals on the aircraft were just incredible. They saved the young girl’s life. It was quite an experience to witness,” Said Sandy.

“Everyone was great, all the passengers on the plane were so understandable,” said Rachel. “They all could tell we had it under control and coordinated.”

We applaud our crewmembers service, compassion and professionalism in responding to this medical emergency and continuing to take care of all the other passengers on the flight. It’s a great example of the great work that SkyWest teams are doing across North America every day.

To learn more about becoming a part of SkyWest’s flight attendant team, click here.

SkyWest Teams Prepare 10,000 Pounds of Food for Those in Need

SkyWest people provide exceptional service to millions of passengers every month on flights across the country. And the service doesn’t stop there; they also find countless ways to give back in the communities where they live and work.

Just recently, teams of pilots, flight attendants and airport operations agents volunteered their time to help fight hunger in San Francisco (SFO), Muskegon, MI (MKG), and Boise, ID (BOI). Through their efforts more than 10,000 pounds of food was prepared for local families in need.

SFO
As part SkyWest’s annual Appreciation Week a group of SkyWest employees decided to show their appreciation by volunteering at the San Francisco Marin Food Bank for Hunger Action Month. They were assigned the task of sorting dried rice into one pound bags. After hours of work, they prepped and sealed 1,860 bags for families in need.Volunteering in SFO

They also raised funds for the Food Bank through SkyWest’s Our People in Action program and Delta Dental California’s dollar-for-dollar match. They donated $1,260 and provided double that amount in meals for families in vital need of food.

MKG
A Feed America truck, loaded with food for those in need, arrived unexpectedly in MKG and extra volunteers were needed to help unload the supplies.

Helping in MKGA message was sent to our MKG team and several stepped up to the plate to help their community, volunteering their time and energy to help.

Three SkyWest cross utilized agents and their families joined with other volunteers to help distribute 5,000 pounds of food to 180 people. The team received thanks from the community and Feed America – West Michigan.

BOI
SkyWest crewmembers in Boise spent time at the Idaho Food Bank and in just two hours they were able to bag 2,152 pounds of potatoes and 1,984 pounds of squash. That’s enough food for 3,447 meals! Staff at the Food Bank was over the moon for the donated time and helping hands.SkyWest Team in BOI

SkyWest is proud of our teams and the difference they make both on the ground and in the sky. If you’re ready to become a part of our team, visit our Careers page and check out the current openings.

 

 

Father’s Day: Following in Dad’s Footsteps

Brayden and Lynn Bell

For many pilots, having the opportunity to be at the controls of an aircraft with their dad is a far-fetched dream.

At SkyWest Airlines, those dreams are a reality for generations of family pilots who work at the company and at times, even fly together.

“It has been the highlight of my career to be able to work next to my son,” said SkyWest CRJ Captain Michael Jense. “Chris and I have been blessed to fly numerous trips together and it has been great to be able to hang out on the overnight trips too.”

Whether it was spending time working at his grandfather’s aircraft maintenance shop, taking family trips thanks to the travel benefits, or seeing the joy on his dad’s face because he was doing what he loved, Chris fell in love with aviation and is thankful for his dad’s help and guidance as he began taking flying lessons when he was 16 years old.

Michael Jense (CA, CRJ) and Chris Jense (CA, CRJ)

“My dad has helped me out so much and I’ve enjoyed being able to fly different trips with him,” said SkyWest CRJ Captain Chris Jense. “Coming to SkyWest was an easy decision for me because of the company’s exceptional reputation and the opportunities it gives its employees.”

For Chris, flying was in his blood as a fourth-generation pilot.

Dave Bechtold (CA, CRJ) and Dylan Bechtold (CA, CRJ)

“The poor kid never had a chance,” Michael laughs. “But honestly it’s great to see him doing what he loves.”

That passion, combined with SkyWest’s values, continues to drive the airline’s close-knit family culture even as it has grown to become the world’s largest regional airline with nearly 14,000 aviation professionals operating more than 2,500 daily flights.

Captain Dylan Bechtold got an early start at SkyWest thanks to his father, CRJ Captain Dave Bechtold, who has more than three decades of experience at SkyWest.

“I grew up in the SkyWest training department and know most of the senior pilots,” said Dylan. “Because of that, I knew firsthand the culture and commitment the company has in its employees, and with my parents and my aunt working at SkyWest, it was an easy choice for me to join the team.”

Together they have taken a number of trips in what Dave calls “an unforgettable experience.”

“To be in the cockpit and flying together was a proud moment,” said Dave.

For ERJ Captain Marshall Rub and his son Captain Jeffrey Rub, the opportunity to work alongside each other is one of the reasons why they don’t want to go anywhere else.

Marshall Rub (CA, ERJ) and Jeffrey Rub (CA, ERJ)

“I was Jeff’s instructor when he first started to fly and the rest has been history,” said Marshall.

For CRJ Captain Garry Poulton, working at SkyWest quickly became his goal as he began working as a flight instructor in Reno, Nevada.

“I had heard a lot of good things about SkyWest and it’s been more than I could have ever imagined,” said Captain Poulton. “The camaraderie among crewmembers, the family culture, the opportunities, including flying with my son (Denton Poulton), have all been so great.”

So far, the father and son pilots have flown twice together.

“When I got into aviation I never thought much about my children wanting to follow in my footsteps,” said Captain Garry Poulton. “I have seen, in the past, other pilots who had flown with their children and seen the smile on their faces. I know what those feelings of pride and accomplishment are like now.”

For Denton, being a pilot was always his dream as he watched his father leave for work in his uniform.

“My dad was my ultimate role model,” he said. “Where kids wanted to grow up to be professional athletes, Hollywood stars or the next President of the United States, I wanted to grow up to be like my Dad.”

Garry Poulton (CA, CRJ) and Denton Poulton (FO, CRJ)

A similarly unforgettable experience occurred last year for Brent Wilson, a SkyWest pilot and manager of aircraft operations, along with his son Michael, a first officer. They had the chance to operate their first flight together as they 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.”

These examples and experiences are just a few of the many pilots, flight attendants, maintenance professionals, customer service agents and more who have had the unique opportunity of working together with their family at SkyWest.

Happy Father’s Day to all our SkyWest Fathers teaching their children to soar! To learn more about becoming a part of the SkyWest family, go to skywest.com.

Meet the SkyWest Pilot Recruiters Attending WAI in 2019!

SkyWest Airlines will be attending the 2019 International Women in Aviation Conference (WAI) in Long Beach, California this week. The three-day event – which runs from Thursday through Saturday – will feature keynote speakers talking about the latest innovations in the industry, as well as workshops and networking opportunities.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of WAI and our pilot recruitment team is excited to take part once again this year. As one of the largest regional airlines in the world – with over 2,300 daily flights and nearly 500 aircraft – our world-class pilots look forward to meeting with you, answering your questions and even holding on-site interviews.

To get you better acquainted with the SkyWest recruitment team at WAI 2019, we reached out to ask them about their experiences in the aviation industry and what advice they would offer girls looking to pursue a career as a commercial pilot.

Shanna Van Dusen, Phoenix CRJ First Officer

Shanna Van Dusen, Phoenix CRJ First Officer

What was your path to SkyWest?

I completed my pilot certificates just prior to 9/11. With the economy in a slump, I chose to finish my college education, get married, and have children. After a 12-year hiatus from aviation, it was time to return to my first love: flying. I became a flight instructor with AeroGuard Flight Training Center and finally completed my 1,500 hours. While there, I enrolled in the SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program and became a SkyWest Cadet, then successfully interviewed to become a SkyWest first officer!

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

There are so many reasons I love being a part of the SkyWest family! The friendships, quality of life, my flying schedule, the travel benefits as well as the people I work with.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

I love the quality of life SkyWest has to offer. I have choices with my career, which affords me the ability to be flexible and spend quality time with my husband and kids. I can choose which aircraft I fly, I can choose from 20 domiciles to live in or commute from. Even as a First Officer I have enough days off to chaperone my kids’ school field trips, enjoy date nights with my husband, and still earn a lucrative income. SkyWest Airlines is the perfect place for any woman to maintain that work-life balance as an airline pilot.

What advice would you give girls looking at pursuing careers in aviation?

Putting forth the time and sacrifice upfront, will be worth the effort in the end. There is nothing better for me than stepping into my child’s classroom, in a SkyWest Airlines uniform for career day, and see them beaming with pride.

Amanda Glover, Chicago CRJ First Officer

Amanda Glover, Chicago CRJ First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

When I was in high school, I used to work with an elderly woman each night. She was one of 33 licensed female pilots in the 1940s and her stories inspired me to follow my dreams of being a pilot. Listening to her stories about learning how to fly were amazing. She changed her name to Mike from Martha just so the men she was giving lessons to would fly with her. She was inspiring!

What was your path to SkyWest?

My path to SkyWest began in 2004. I was hired as a Cross Utilized Agent in Missoula, MT. I began to see all the pilots fly in and out of the airport and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. In 2009 my career took a leap forward when I joined the InFlight team at SkyWest. I worked full time as a flight attendant while giving flying lessons on my days off. As soon as I logged my 1500th hour I put my application in at SkyWest to become a pilot.

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

My favorite part of being a pilot with SkyWest is the amazing corporate culture that we have. The family mentality that SkyWest has embraced speaks to me. I love coming to work every day knowing that I’m going to work with my friends. I also know that I work for a company that encourages and supports their employees and ensures their success in the day-to-day operation.

Muri Cole, Minneapolis CRJ First Officer

Muri Cole, Minneapolis CRJ First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

I have always been inspired by the idea of flying and once I got behind the controls of an airplane, I knew it was where I was meant to be.

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

I love the variety in the flying with so many interesting overnights and 20 bases. I have chosen to be based at eight different domiciles so far because I love exploring the country, and SkyWest makes that possible for me.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

I have found that equality is one of SkyWest’s strongest attributes. As I jumped from base to base I flew with hundreds of different crews and across the board every flight was honored with teamwork, respect and positive attitudes.

Jordane Mortelman, Chicago ERJ Captain

Jordane Mortelman, Chicago ERJ Captain

Why did you become a pilot?

My grandfather was a Spitfire pilot for the Royal Air Force in World War II. I was always fascinated by his stories and would ask him all the time about it. When I was eight years old, I told him I wanted to be a flight attendant because that was what I thought girls could do.  He said to me, “why… when you could be up in the front?” After that I set my sights on becoming a pilot.

What was your pathway to SkyWest?

I did all of my flight training in the United Kingdom where I was an instructor for two years. The economy was not doing very well, and I came over to the United States as a flight instructor. SkyWest Airlines was the only regional airline that I knew anything about, and I knew it was the place for me. I just celebrated my seven-year anniversary at SkyWest last month!

Advice to girls looking to pursue aviation?

Never give up. It’s not an easy road, but it’s absolutely worth all the hard work.

Jessica Chaloupka, LaGuardia ERJ First Officer

Why did you decide to become a pilot?

My dad was a Navy pilot so I grew up with an aviation influence. I still remember my first Blue Angels air show as a child. My parents were very supportive of my dreams and aspirations of becoming a pilot.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

SkyWest has an exceptional reputation. The team members are hard-working, happy, and friendly. People love coming to work and I see more women joining the team every day!

What advice would you give girls looking at pursuing careers in aviation?

If you’re looking to start an aviation career, you should go for it! There are so many opportunities for women in aviation. Find a mentor and start asking questions. All the women I have met have been so helpful and supportive!

Jessica Chaloupka, LaGuardia ERJ First Officer

Theresa Nelson, Portland ERJ First Officer

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

My favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot is the people I get to work with. SkyWest’s culture empowers the team members to take care of one another and deliver excellent service to our customers and partners.

Theresa Nelson, Portland ERJ First Officer

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

We take care of one another. When we travel as crew members, we stick together. SkyWest understands the needs of the employees and the challenges of balancing work and family. You will find nothing but advocates supporting your journey at SkyWest.

What advice would you give girls looking at pursuing careers in aviation?

My advice for girls is to be daring enough to dream. Dream about what puts a smile on your face and don’t let anything stop you. For me, I dreamed of financial independence while traveling and still having time for family life. The life of an airline pilot provides all that, and I get to fly a jet.

Colleen Paquet, Salt Lake City CRJ First Officer

What was your path to SkyWest?

I got my degree in Aviation Technology from Utah State University. Once I graduated we moved to Los Angeles and I did a mixture of flight instructing along with aerial photography. Then I applied at SkyWest!

What is your favorite part of being a SkyWest pilot?

This sounds cliche, but my favorite part about being a SkyWest pilot is the people. I always have a blast at work. We are constantly laughing and joking, which makes my trips so enjoyable.

Why is SkyWest a good place for women in aviation?

SkyWest has a very strong group of pilots who are trying to give not only the female pilots, but any pilot with a family, the highest quality of life possible. It’s inspiring to see so many people working together to help our female pilots balance their family life and career.

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.”