After 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.
Her 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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!
Julie Hafen – a CRJ first officer for SkyWest Airlines, discovered aviation as a teenager and has been hooked ever since. Check out how she got started as a pilot and what a typical day is like for her at SkyWest.
As a teenager, I always thought I would enjoy flying and traveling for my career, but it never occurred to me that I could actually be the pilot until I was 17 years old. I took an intro to aviation class at my local college and fell in love with aviation. Problem was, however, that I had never even set foot on an airplane, let alone flown one. So for my 18th birthday, my parents flew me to Texas, where my grandfather, who had his private pilot’s license, took me flying.
When I got home from that trip I immediately registered for the aviation degree at Utah Valley University and started my training in the fall of 2003. A few years after I started my schooling and flight training, I earned my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). I instructed for five years because I got hooked – hooked on the feeling of being able to help others earn their wings…giving others their dreams. For me, it was by far the best way to build time toward becoming a commercial pilot.
I decided to apply at SkyWest Airlines after attending the Women in Aviation conference in 2012. I was happy fight instructing, but after speaking to the numerous pilots at the SkyWest booth, I decided I wanted to take the next step and become a SkyWest pilot. There were many airlines I spoke to at this conference, but the pilots at SkyWest were the most friendly and easy to talk to, and it was clear that they enjoyed their careers. After months of studying I felt ready for an interview and submitted my application.
SkyWest interviewed me shortly after, and I was officially hired only days after my interview. Once hired, I had two weeks to get all my documents ready and to prepare for ground school. Training was a whirlwind of more learning than I even knew possible, but it was worth it. It took me a few months after training to feel completely comfortable as a first officer, but I knew I made the best decision by changing my career from a flight instructor to an airline pilot.
Here is a tiny glimpse of a day in my life at SkyWest:
I show up for work at least 45 minutes prior to our first departure and spend a few minutes meeting the crew; I have had the opportunity to fly with some pretty great captains and flight attendants at SkyWest. Together we look at any deferred items on the aircraft (inoperative items that are not required to be fixed immediately), the weather and any other pertinent information for the flight.
Once we head out to the aircraft we each have our duties that need to be completed before we depart. Typically the first officer is the one to do the walkaround/preflight inspection while the captain completes some checklist items.
After the passengers and baggage are on the plane, we complete a weight and balance (it’s not just something for general aviation), and figure out our speeds for takeoff and cruise. On the plus side, we don’t always have to do it by hand.
Before we start the engines for the first flight each day – we might fly one to six legs in a day – the captain and I decide who will fly which legs. Some captains like to alternate each leg, some like to always fly first… it doesn’t really matter, but know that you will generally be flying as much as the captain is – they don’t get to have all the fun. And whoever is flying will do a briefing before each flight including the current weather, expected taxi route, departure procedure, pertinent NOTAMs, etc.
Julie with her all-female flight crew on the recently retired EMB120
If we are done with our day early enough, we will usually get together as a crew to do something fun. There are such great people at SkyWest, it is great being able to hang out outside of work and to get to know each other a bit better.
My quality of life at SkyWest has been so much better than it was as a flight instructor. As an instructor I worked 10-14 hour days for five or six days a week. It was rewarding work, but it was a lot of work. At SkyWest, I usually work four days a week and get paid for more hours than I did when I was teaching. I am also able to be home much more and spend time with the people that matter most to me. Quality of life is very important to me, which is one of the reasons I chose SkyWest over the other regional airlines out there.
Flying isn’t really work for me; it’s more like a hobby that I get paid for! Of course there are frustrating days that get interrupted with weather or maintenance delays, but for me those days seem few and far between. I am happy with the career I chose. I have been at SkyWest for almost three years, flying the EMB 120 Brasilia and now the CRJ, and have never regretted my decision to work for such a great company.