Tag Archives: SkyWest People

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 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.

SkyWest’s First Female Maintenance Controller

Melissa Serrano is no ordinary mechanic. Starting her career at SkyWest in 2015 in the ORD hangar, Serrano is now the first female maintenance controller in SkyWest Airlines history.

”I knew it was a man’s field, but I knew it was something I could do,” said Serrano.

When an aircraft is removed from service for maintenance, the maintenance controller is consulted by line mechanics and pilots to help troubleshoot all procedures. After the aircraft has been properly diagnosed and repaired if necessary, it is the responsibility of the maintenance controller to give final clearance before returning the aircraft to scheduled service.

“With every aircraft that is put back into service, I put my license on the line. I sign it, it’s my signature. It’s something that I take seriously; I have worked too hard for this,” said Serrano.

When she was a young girl, Serrano’s mother drove an airport shuttle in Atlanta. She recalls going to work with her mother often, and as they drove the back roads to the airport Serrano would stare at the jetliners with amazement. She always enjoyed working with her hands and became addicted to the independence provided by fixing something herself. Later, she joined the JROTC, where she would step foot in an aircraft hangar for the first time.

“That first time I smelled jet fuel, I knew what I wanted to do,” said a confident Serrano.

It certainly didn’t happen overnight. Getting her A&P license alone was years of sacrifice and hard work. While in school full-time at AIM in Atlanta, Serrano worked as a parts clerk at a freight line, fitting 36 hours of work into her two-day weekend. On top of that, she went to school Monday through Thursday, and worked part-time at a hotel during the week.

Serrano secured her first job, post A&P school, at a general aircraft maintenance company. There, she would learn invaluable lessons about asserting yourself and being confident in your abilities. Often being taken off projects because her male counterparts didn’t feel comfortable working with a woman, she recalls one instance where she and a coworker were at impasse while diagnosing a problem. His demeaning remarks were that she would be better off making sandwiches. Her diagnostic was proven right.

“Do your research and know what you are talking about,” says Serrano. “Then, you can confidently stand your ground, because you believe in what you say.”

Once she made it to SkyWest, she worked hard on the hangar floor, learning from her many mentors. She quickly realized that SkyWest was different.

“SkyWest is a great place to work. If you want the experience, someone will take you under their wing. SkyWest takes me seriously, my supervisors take me seriously and they are confident in my expertise.”

Serrano became interested in the maintenance controller position after talking with a co-worker. After a few conversations, she set her sights on becoming the first female maintenance controller in SkyWest history. After an intense interview process and extensive training, Serrano took her first solo shift with authority.

SkyWest Maintenance Manager Wayne Wignall says, “She has worked very hard and has come a long way. She does a fantastic job.”

Serrano has a few words of advice for any woman out there looking to enter into what might be considered a man’s profession:

“Stay positive. Feeling sad isn’t going to do something for your future. Learn what you can and move on. Nobody should stop you from getting your experience; just work hard and have confidence in yourself.”

Melissa, we are proud to have you on the SkyWest team. Keep up the great work and continue to soar!

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!

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.

“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!

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.

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.