Tag Archives: SkyWest Family

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.

SkyWest’s First Mother-Daughter Pilots Take to the Skies

SkyWest CRJ Captain Suzy Garrett has much to celebrate this Mother’s Day. Reaching 30 years of SkyWest service May 1, Captain Garrett is one of SkyWest’s longest-tenured pilots and was the eleventh female pilot hired at SkyWest. Her husband Doug flies at American Airlines after a decade with SkyWest, their son Mark is currently building his flight hours and their daughter Donna began SkyWest flight training this month.

“We absolutely love our jobs. You don’t see that too much in other occupations,” Captain Garrett explained. “None of our kids were thinking about becoming pilots, but when you start looking at other careers that are out there, sitting in an office, and then see how happy we are — it opened their eyes.”

Now, as Donna completes SkyWest’s CRJ pilot training, she and Captain Garrett are SkyWest’s first mother-daughter pilot pair. “I was exposed to aviation my whole life,” said Donna. “I decided to fly because of my parents’ passion and love for flying. They made it so much fun.”

“I got to do a lot of traveling growing up,” she continued. “I was exposed to the world, which was a big inspiration. Experiencing my mom and dad’s lifestyle was wonderful. It exposed me to the possibilities the industry offered.”

Captain Garrett agrees that aviation has opened many doors throughout her 30-year career.

“I am super grateful for this job,” she said. “For women, the work schedule flexibility is a plus; the ability to have a family. What better career is out there where you can make this kind of money and not have to have high stress by taking your work home with you? Scheduling is a big reason why I’ve stayed with SkyWest. It was great when the kids were growing up. I could volunteer for field trips, parties at school and be that mom, while also having this wonderful career!”

Captain Garrett also talks about how their family enjoys traveling together.

“We’ve taken the family everywhere,” she said. “We’ve been able to get away from normal life and the house and escape on these vacations to have good, quality time together. It didn’t matter whether it was Germany, China, Costa Rica or Africa: You’re making memories of a lifetime. My middle child became very savvy and could soon piece together routings for our trips better than I could.”

And now she has the joy of knowing her daughter Donna has joined the SkyWest family.

“I love it! I really love it. It’s neat having your kid experience what you’ve gotten to experience. She’s part of the SkyWest family. I think it’s going to be a great career for her. She likes having variety and excitement in her life.”

Captain Garrett is a trailblazer in many ways. Starting with just a few other female pilots in the industry 30 years ago, she describes how things have changed throughout her career.

“[Back then] I wouldn’t draw attention to myself at the airport,” she said. “Believe it or not, I used to hide. The climate has changed; the reaction from the passengers has changed. Today I feel like I can be a role model for young girls who come on board and show them what’s possible. The doors are open: You can be anything!”

Donna continued, “Don’t ever disqualify yourself or think that there is anything limiting you just because you are a woman. There are so many opportunities to be successful in this industry. Find mentors: other people who are doing what you’re doing and what you’re aspiring towards. Meet other people who are doing the same thing. Finding friends and peers who are going through the same thing you’re going through is extremely helpful. I’m so grateful I have my mom as a resource.”

Donna understands that her mother is in many ways a pioneer.

“Mom being a commercial pilot normalized it for me. Being exposed to the rest of the world, where things hadn’t caught up yet, opened my eyes. Seeing the world shifting is cool. It’s cool seeing more and more women getting into the industry.”

Captain Garrett and Donna look forward to their first flight together and are thrilled to be SkyWest’s first mother-daughter pilot pair.

“It’s exciting and something I’m proud of,” Donna said smiling. “I had no idea how rare it was! It’s a cool moment for my mom and me and for women in aviation in general.”

Thank you, Captain Garrett. To mothers everywhere, SkyWest wishes you a happy Mother’s Day!

Proudly employing over 13,000 aviation professionals, SkyWest operates nearly 2,400 daily flights. Together, these individuals connect millions of passengers each month to 258 destinations across North America. Learn more about SkyWest, and career opportunities available to you, here.

Learning From the Best: A Family of Flyers

Many pilots have a pivotal experience or memory that first aligned them with a desire to take to the skies. Detroit-based SkyWest CRJ Captain Alexander Hilsen encountered many of those moments from an early age. With both parents and an older sister as pilots, Alexander grew up in an aviation-focused household that took his career aspirations to new heights.

Here he shares his experiences and the part his family played in his aviation journey.


Growing up with two pilots for parents was interesting and unique, with everyone wondering the same thing:

“What was it like having both of your parents gone all the time?”

Well, it wasn’t like that. That was just normal to me. I got to spend some time with Dad, then I got to spend time with Mom, and then my sister and I got the house to ourselves for a few days. Something I began to understand in my adolescence was that I actually saw my parents more often than my friends did. They never had to take their work home with them. During their days off they could enjoy their hobbies of horse riding, hunting and flying little airplanes.

Although some birthdays were missed, and they sometimes had to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving, Amelia and I both understood that it came with the territory. My sister and I loved flying when we were little. My dad got exhausted from taking us weightless over and over.

My first memories of flying were when I was four years old. We had to take the cushions off of the couch so that we could see over the cowling of the 172. My dad would then tell me to pretend I was flying an F-16 and to shoot down imaginary enemies. There was no question that we had achieved air superiority over Enumclaw, Washington.

Having airline pilots as parents came with other benefits. When I was 13, my dad was able to secure a simulator slot for me in the 747. It didn’t take long before I was putting out triple engine fires and flying inverted under the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ve had the privilege of riding in the back of both my parents’ airplanes. When I was 14, my dad flew my sister and me to Narita, and when I was 16, my mom flew us to London. In 2017, I used my jumpseat privileges to sit in the jumpseat next to my mom for a trip to Honolulu. It was awesome to see my mother at the helm of a 777-200, hand-flying a “slam-dunk” arrival, just as I’d done in a SkyWest CRJ a hundred times before.

Training and instructing together with my sister Amelia has also brought us closer as siblings. Learning the skill and getting to fly old and exotic airplanes is something that we have shared and bonded over. I feel really lucky to have the opportunities that I’ve been given.


SkyWest pilots can truly Take Control of Their Pilot Careers, with more opportunity, exposure and access than any other regional pilots. Twenty domiciles and a fleet of nearly 500 aircraft allow career advancement and opportunity throughout the country. Learn more and apply 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’s Lewiston Team Gives Back

The SkyWest customer service team in Lewiston, Idaho (LWS) is giving back to the community this season by donating their time at the Idaho Food Bank.

The team of 11 leveraged their teamwork to categorize and assemble food, sorting over 2,300 pounds of food during their first visit. While they’re generally working together to provide exceptional service, load bags and marshal aircraft, this group of agents put their teamwork skills together in a different way: helping to feed over 1,695 people across Idaho.

“This was our first time volunteering together as a team,” said LWS Customer Service Supervisor Angie Stegner. “We enjoyed it so much that we will definitely be looking for other opportunities in our community to serve.”

The team has already scheduled their return to the food bank in November, December and January and are looking to find more opportunities to serve in the coming months.

“This time of year is hard enough as it is, and the idea that we were helping to feed people and provide a basic human need was incredibly gratifying,” said Angie. “I think we all get so wrapped up in our own blessings that we forget that a box of canned food can mean everything to someone. It was a humbling experience.”

“We have a great chemistry here in LWS,” continued Angie, “but sharing that with our community made us feel more like a family.” 

Great job team LWS! If you are interested in joining a team like the one in LWS, click 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.”

SkyWest Bases Host Family Fly-ins

On top of providing crews with some of the best flying opportunities in all the industry, SkyWest Airlines is proud of the culture of teamwork that extends across the 13,000 aviation professionals at the airline. And that team spirit was on display as SkyWest people at hubs across the country organized fly-in picnics for employees and their families.

Crewmembers in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis and Detroit hosted events where those in attendance were able to fly the open skies as pilots brought in their personal aircraft and gave sightseeing rides. Additionally, everyone shared excellent food and great company.

During the events, SkyWest leadership joined in the fun with COO Mike Thompson, Flight Ops VP Tracy Gallo, InFlight VP Sonya Wolford and more leaders attending the fly-ins.

“I love SkyWest,” said PDX flight attendant Elaine Hergert. “Who has a company picnic and gives airplane rides to kids? So awesome! I love my job.”

These fly-in events are just one of the many examples of how SkyWest people create a culture of teamwork and success for employees and their families.

To learn more about becoming a part of our team, click here.

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.