Tag Archives: SkyWest Pilot

How I Became a SkyWest Pilot: Anna Yackshaw

Katelyn Boulton
Corporate Communications Coordinator

Anna Yackshaw, a SkyWest CRJ first officer, was born into a family of aviation. Often going on imaginary flights with her grandfather, a Corsair pilot, her decision to fly professionally was made long before she reached the conclusion on her own. It wasn’t until after a visit to the University of Dubuque during high school when Anna knew her childhood imagination would soon become more. She headed to flight school and eventually found herself in the right seat of a flight deck, flying for SkyWest.


How did you decide to become a pilot?

Growing up I was very fortunate to spend a lot of my childhood with my grandparents. My grandfather and I were practically inseparable. He was a Corsair pilot and mechanic for the Navy during WWII and continued to fly recreationally after the war had ended. I loved hearing all about his flying stories, and we would go on our own ‘imaginary flights’ almost daily. Little did I know that this game of pretending was foreshadowing my own career down the road.

After taking countless career assessment tests in high school and not being at all excited about any of the results, I went to visit a friend of mine who was already in college to see if he had any advice. Although he was helpful, it was his college, the University of Dubuque, that guided me to my answer. Dubuque had their own flight school. I was talking to some of his friends who were in the program and they were telling me how they flew for class. How cool is that?! For this Midwest girl who grew up flying imaginary flights with her grandfather, it was the perfect fit.

What made you decide to come to SkyWest?

When the hours in my logbook finally totaled that magic number and I wasn’t in love with my corporate job at the time, I once again reached out to friends for advice. Fortunately, having attended a flight school left me with plenty of friends scattered all over this industry. The trend I noticed the most was that everyone was happy at SkyWest, and I felt that I received the most positive feedback from those who flew for SkyWest. That feedback, in addition to my own research on the company, made it seem like the obvious choice.

What do you enjoy most about being at SkyWest?

The people are definitely the best part and biggest asset to this company. From the training department to the crews that I fly with on the line, I couldn’t ask for better co-workers. I have made friends here that will be in my life indefinitely.

Why do you love being a pilot?

I love that my job doesn’t feel like work. There are days when our paychecks are definitely earned, but overall I love that I don’t feel like I’ve gone to ‘work’ a day in my life because I love what I do. I love watching the sun rise and set at 30,000 feet. I love when we have kids on board that want to come see the cockpit and watching their faces light up when I give them a pair of wings. In addition to these perks, no day is the exact same. This job is constantly challenging me and pushing me to become a better pilot. Always having the opportunity to learn is something that I feel many take for granted.

What do people say when you tell them you’re a pilot?

The most common reaction is shock. Whether it be my age or my gender, I’m not sure. My favorite reaction is when people are simply happy for me and don’t make a big deal about it. I love what I do, but I don’t think it deserves a spotlight over anyone else’s career.

How have you seen the role of women in aviation change?

I think the general public is still use to seeing more male pilots and female flight attendants than vice versa, but I can see those roles continue to diversify with each crew I fly with. In our ever-changing world, I think there will always be challenges but I see them becoming fewer and fewer as time goes on. The growth in size and popularity of the Women in Aviation organization is a great testament to the progress and successes that women have had in this industry.

What advice would you give to women who are considering becoming pilots?

Stop thinking about it and start working on it. This is an amazing career path and even though it comes with its share of sacrifices, I don’t think there is another job out there that compares to the rewards of being a pilot.

Everyone knows that this is a male-dominated industry, but don’t let that get in your head. Instead of becoming a ‘female pilot’, just become a pilot. We all show up to the airport to do the same job. Stay strong and confident and be a good role model for those aspiring aviators following in your footsteps.

Fly safely and follow your dreams!


SkyWest is a proud supporter of Women in Aviation and will be attending the 2018 Conference later this week. Come meet with our recruiters Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24, and learn more about a career with SkyWest. There will also be an opportunity for on-site interviews for those ready to Take Control of Their Careers. Visit our career guide to learn more about flying with SkyWest.

For more inspiration on women in aviation, take a look at this blog post, featuring SkyWest First Officer (recently upgraded to Captain!) Koko Kostelny.

My Path to Becoming a SkyWest Captain: Jake Nelson

Katelyn Boulton
Corporate Communications Coordinator

When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Jake Nelson always had an answer: a professional airline pilot. He was just 9 when he flew his first airplane, and the rest is history! With help from an encouraging mom and dad as well as many supportive mentors along the way, Jake was able to achieve his dream. Read on for his story of becoming SkyWest Captain Jake Nelson.


Hello everyone! My name is Jake Nelson. I am honored to fly for SkyWest Airlines. I recently accepted the upgrade to CRJ Captain in our new Atlanta domicile, and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone’s path to the airline world is different – that’s what makes this such an exciting industry. This is my story.

I knew I wanted to fly since I was a very little guy. I grew up in the high desert of Los Angeles County, near Edwards Air Force Base. I can remember my parents taking me out to sit near the end of the runway at USAF Plant 42 (also known as Palmdale Regional Airport – KPMD for you fellow AvGeeks!) to watch the airplanes practice in the pattern. I’ve known since then that I belonged in the sky.

Jake’s First Flight

My path to learning to fly was nothing short of magical, and I am honored to have come in contact with some amazing mentors and cheerleaders throughout my journey.

When I was 9 years old, I was given the opportunity to take part in the EAA Young Eagles program. I was taken up in a Cessna 172 and allowed to fly the airplane around my hometown. I circled over my school, my house and around the neighborhood I grew up in. I knew that day that I was born to be a pilot. I never felt more sure of anything in my life. I was encouraged by my family (shout out to Mom and Dad for “letting me do my thing”) and mentors to study hard and chase my dreams of flight. I worked tirelessly through school and spent every spare moment soaking in everything there was to learn about airplanes.

My junior year of high school, I was invited to attend the UND Aerospace summer camp in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I spent a week flying small airplanes, attending aviation seminars and living in the dorms. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in aviation when I graduated high school.

My senior year, I applied for and was accepted to Arizona State University’s professional flight program. I spent three and a half years in Mesa, Arizona, learning how to fly and become a well-rounded professional airline pilot. I was honored to be “First to Solo” amongst my class and eventually earned my Private Pilot license at 18 years old. When I left Arizona State, I was a Multi-Engine Commercial Pilot as well as a Multi-Engine Instrument Certified Flight Instructor.

My “Path to 1500 hours” was an amazing and exciting time in my young life. I flight instructed in the daytime at the Edwards Air Force Base Aero Club, where my first flight as an instructor pilot at the Aero Club was in the very same airplane I had my Young Eagles flight in 13 years earlier! And by night, I flew on behalf of the city of Lancaster for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The days were long, but I reveled in every moment. I think I spent more time in the air than on the ground during that time!

Jake and His Parents

In October of 2013, I applied to become a SkyWest Airlines pilot. There were many factors in my decision to join the SkyWest family, and I was drawn to SkyWest for many reasons. Being a “West Coast guy” I knew that I wanted to join a company that had a large West Coast presence. I also knew that I wanted to join a company with stability and a proven track record of growth and opportunity. While in college, I worked as an intern/instructor for another regional airline. Although I learned a lot from that company, it solidified my decision to join the SkyWest team when I earned the required flight hours.

I was fortunate to receive an offer for First Officer with SkyWest and began ground school in December of 2013. Our ground school class was pretty amazing. It was hard work, but it was incredibly rewarding. I spent nearly a month in Salt Lake City working alongside my classmates and instructors. I made lifelong friends – I have a group text with my classmates that we still talk in every day, nearly five years later!

Captain Swift and Jake

What really impressed me about SkyWest was how they strive to build “the next generation of professional aviators.” Enter: Captain Brian Swift. Captain Brian has been with SkyWest for nearly 30 years. He serves as a Check Airman and is responsible for training new pilots “on the line.” When Captain Brian was introduced to our class, we immediately connected. He would make sure that my study buddies and I were on track during ground school. He even hosted us at his home in Salt Lake for dinner and a review session before our big Systems Validation Test.

After we completed our ground school and proceeded to simulator training, Brian kept tabs on us to make sure we were progressing and made himself available to answer any questions along the way. Captain Brian made it a point to take me on my first flights “on the line.”

I will never forget the excitement and magic of lifting off of runway 16 Left in Salt Lake City for the first time. As I called for “gear up” I remember a huge smile flashing across my face and the soft chuckle Brian let out. “Roger. Gear up. This is pretty amazing, isn’t it partner?”

After Initial Operating Experience (IOE) with Brian, I was based in Minneapolis and after a month in MSP, I was able to transfer to Los Angeles. Life was pretty amazing – I was an airline pilot flying around the West Coast. Nothing made me smile bigger than being cleared to descend via the SADDE6 arrival into Los Angeles (now the IRNMN1 arrival for those AvGeeks following along at home). On a clear Los Angeles night, you could see the whole LA Basin, turning toward the runways right over downtown Los Angeles.

Jake’s First Day as an E175 First Officer

During my time as a First Officer, I had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented and experienced crews. Many captains and flight attendants in our Los Angeles domicile have over 20 years of experience with the company. It is always an honor to share stories and lessons learned from their time in the industry.

I remember sitting at home when the email announcement came about SkyWest opening a new domicile in Atlanta. I had been considering taking the plunge into “captainhood” for a while, but something really seemed right when I saw the email. I knew that when I upgraded I did not want to commute to work. I wanted to live near the airport where I would be working out of. I thought, “It would be pretty easy to fly home to Los Angeles on my days off from Atlanta!”

So I clicked “submit standing bid” for Atlanta CRJ Captain. A few days later, I received the email confirming I was awarded the position. I was over the moon. After jumping up and down with Mom and Dad in excitement, I knew who I had to tell first: Captain Brian! Brian was ecstatic and immediately offered to help with training. I once again accepted his offer for help and guidance. I returned to Salt Lake City for ground school and simulator training, and I was sent to our Fresno and San Francisco domiciles to complete IOE training on the CRJ 200.

Captain Jake Nelson and Captain Bryan Swift

This is where this story gets super awesome. Captain Brian called me one night and told me to “go check SkedPlus!” I was delighted to see that my CRJ 700/900 differences training was scheduled and that Captain Brian would be serving as my Check Airman. When I showed up to the first day of our trip, Brian met me with a huge smile and a hug. “I am so stinkin’ proud of you, Bub!”

Brian presented his Captain Epaulettes that he wore during my initial IOE to me—it was a huge moment for me. The hard work, sweat and, yes, even some tears I put in have finally paid off. I may have let a little tear fall when Wendy, our forward flight attendant, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “Captain, are we good to close the door?” In that moment, I realized, “Oh my gosh. That’s me!” Brian beamed and nodded at me. “Whaddya say Captain Jake?! Let’s go fly airplanes.”


Have you been considering flying for becoming a pilot at SkyWest? Check out our pilot career guide  to learn more and to apply.

In the Flight Deck with SkyWest: Behind the Scenes

Katelyn Boulton
Corporate Communications Coordinator

Recently, we showed a glimpse inside the flight deck with two of our SkyWest pilots. This rare behind-the-scenes footage was captured with six cameras mounted throughout different areas of the aircraft, giving our viewers the best seats in the house to watch our pilots in action!

A total of four cameras were placed inside the flight deck and helped to create a unique viewpoint. Two of those cameras were mounted to the handle on the ceiling and provided a view of both the Captain and Line Check Airman. The two images were then stitched together to create a full 360-degree, movable sphere of the flight deck to show our pilots at work during each step of the journey.

There were also two GoPros, one mounted to the wind screen and the other below the throttle. Finally, two cameras were then pointed out over the wings. On all of the cameras, we collected approximately four and a half hours and 65GB of collective flight footage!

This particular flight was operating as a test flight (with no customers) from Sun Valley, Idaho (SUN) to Boise, Idaho (BOI) aboard the E175. Sunny skies and warm temperatures at both locations for the day made for a beautiful flight!

Haven’t seen the video? Watch it below for a glimpse into what it takes to be one of SkyWest’s more than 4,500 professional pilots.

Interested in becoming a SkyWest pilot? Learn more in our career guide: http://ow.ly/f7VP30fq6mx

SkyWest Pioneer Captain Mary Conti Retires After 32 Years

Layne Watson
Corporate Communications Manager

Image 4After 32 years of dedicated service, Palm Springs (PSP) Captain and SkyWest’s first female captain Mary Conti retired on Saturday. Captain Conti was one of the first female pilots at SkyWest and the longest-tenured female pilot in SkyWest’s 45-year history.

“I want to thank Captain Conti for her leadership and professionalism over her decades-long career here,” said Tracy Gallo, Vice President – Flight Operations. “Captain Conti is a role model to countless female pilots at SkyWest and across the industry over the last 32 years. We thank her for her service and wish her the best of luck in her retirement.”

Captain Conti began her SkyWest journey during the SkyWest/SunAire merger in 1985 after being rejected at other companies strictly because she was female.

“There were corporate jobs and you knew you were being turned down because you were a female. They could actually tell you that back then,” said Captain Conti.

Image 1Her initial training at SkyWest was completed in one of SkyWest’s first hangars at the old St. George, Utah airport in 1985. Following training, she went to PSP to fly, where SkyWest’s acquisition of SunAire was still in transition. Nine months later, she and two other female pilots upgraded to captain together, becoming SkyWest’s first female captains. Bringing her journey full circle, Captain Conti completed her final flight last week from San Francisco (SFO) to PSP with an all-female crew.

The first SkyWest employee Captain Conti happened to meet when she got to PSP was a check airman who soon became chief pilot. He is now her husband of nearly 30 years and they have one daughter.

After her first two years at SkyWest, Captain Conti says she knew she wanted to stay and was based in PSP her entire career – with the exception of a few months after upgrades and transitions.

“Working at SkyWest is like working with family. I never get sick of my crews!” said Captain Conti. “You can have a bad day but the people you work with just makes it all better. Coming to SkyWest was the best decision I could have made. If I could do it all over again, I would without a doubt.”

“Like most pilots, I love what I do,” continued Captain Conti. “It gets in your system and it’s hard to let it go. Doing it with amazing crews like the ones at SkyWest makes it even more special.”

Please join us in thanking Captain Conti for her more than 32 years of dedicated service. Congratulations, Mary!

 

 

Be Ready for Your Upgrade

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

SkyWest is known for one of the best pilot training programs in the industry. From a pilot’s first contact with SkyWest’s training department at our ATP CTP course to captain upgrade training, SkyWest is focused on professionalism and proficiency for every pilot. We use an AQP curriculum, and our certified SkyWest instructors are all SkyWest pilots who know what it’s like to fly the line. This makes it so our pilots are uniquely prepared for their upgrade to captain around 2 years.

Check out what V.P. of Flight Ops Tracy Gallo, Director of Training Dave Moxham and CRJ Captain Mitch Lucas II have to say about the training SkyWest Airlines offers:

SkyWest pilots have more opportunities to Take Control of Their Careers than any other regional pilot, including the best training, quality of life and career advancement opportunities. Learn more about our current upgrade times by visiting skywest.com/pilot and checking out the “Seniority” tab.

Be ready for your upgrade and Take Control of Your Career. Apply Today!

Pilot Becomes Life Changing Pen Pal

Thirteen-year-old Samuel and his mom have become frequent SkyWest passengers as they’ve traveled to receive treatment for Samuel’s medical complications. Last summer, while waiting to board a SkyWest aircraft, Samuel got the chance to speak to the pilot, Seattle ERJ Captain Jeff Ross. The brief interaction gave Samuel a new friend and a new outlook on life.

Samuel’s mother recently sent us a letter expressing her thanks and describing her son’s incredible experience:

This is something I’ve attempted to write many times, but I’ve never been able to find the words that accurately describe how incredible our experience has been or do this story justice…

Last summer, …[Sam] got the chance to speak to the pilot a bit… We were surprised to see the same man the next day for our return flight and happy to find out that he not only remembered Sam, but that he would once again be our captain.

The two took a photo together and Captain Ross gave Sam an email address, asking if he could forward the photo along.

Jeff

Before long, they were exchanging letters and postcards. Jeff sent an old receiver of his to Sam because they fly over us heading into and out of BOI and it would allow Sam to listen and learn. He’s also sent books Sam’s way, encouraged him to keep on reading and to work hard in school and reminded him of how strong and brave he is when Sam has had to face more scary or painful procedures.

Eight months later, Sam is happier than ever, no longer saying things like he wishes he’d never been born (something that had been becoming more frequently heard because he’d grown so very weary from being different and dealing with pain).

I just wanted to thank you for hiring people like Jeff who go above and beyond on a daily basis. We have thoroughly enjoyed almost all of our flights and its because of the people you choose to hire.

As of today, Sam and Captain Jeff are good friends who spend time planning the ultimate trip they could take together if money wasn’t an issue. So far, it includes flying upside down, jumping out of a plane, visiting Legoland and Disney World and spending lots of time in a flight simulator. Sam understands this trip isn’t possible, but just dreaming about it has put a smile on his face.

Captain Jeff has changed Sam’s life, filled it with joy and helped him to deal with the things that make him different while also embracing and celebrating them at the same time because its all part of what makes Sam an incredible person.

Thank you, Captain Ross, for your compassion, kindness and leadesrhip. His is one of many amazing examples of SkyWest people making a positive difference. Read more incredible stories like this.

Interested in joining the phenomenal SkyWest team? Learn more about positions at SkyWest Airlines at www.skywest.com/careers.

SkyWest Pilot Brings Easter Fun on Flight

Jacob Molnar
Corporate Communications Coordinator

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 Captain Praised for Little Act of Kindness

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

SkyWest people are the best in the industry! Just check out this story that was shared on Facebook after one SkyWest CRJ captain helped a young family with their sleepy toddler.

We landed at midnight and both kids were fast asleep. We waited until we we were the last ones on the plane and woke up…

Posted by Jennifer Braithwaite Cowley on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Interested in working with incredible people like this captain? Find out more about flying with SkyWest here!

Check out more stories about SkyWest people making a difference!

SkyWest Movember Mustaches

Layne Watson
Corporate Communications Manager

There have been a few more mustaches than usual among SkyWest employees this past month. No, the trend does not signal a change in uniform requirements. The increase in facial hair was part of Movember, a health initiative designed to bring more awareness to men’s health throughout the month of November.

Movember1

Salt Lake City CRJ Captain Jon Warner

Nick Pearson, a Los Angeles-based CRJ captain, led Team SkyWest in supporting Movember, rallying other employees to also participate in improving awareness and encouraging conversations surrounding men’s health.

“When I heard about this cause, I thought it’d be great to contribute,” said Nick. “I also used to be very fond of growing a winter beard but the mustache is the only facial hair we’re allowed to have as pilots, so I looked on this as the next best thing!”

Movember2

Los Angeles CRJ Captain Nick Pearson

Movember challenges men to alter their appearance by growing a mustache for 30 days to raise awareness and educate about men’s health issues. SkyWest employees were encouraged throughout the month to look into their own health, including screening and preventative care visits.

Thanks to Nick’s efforts, along with several dozen other SkyWest employees on his team, thousands of dollars will be donated to the Movember Foundation this year!