Tag Archives: Women in Aviation

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SkyWest Airlines at Women in Aviation International Conference

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

We are looking forward to attending the Women in Aviation International Conference in Orlando, Florida on March 2-4! Our pilot recruitment and maintenance recruitment teams will be at the event talking about life at SkyWest, answering questions and holding on-site interviews. In addition to our recruiters, we also have SkyWest pilots who are presenting at the conference!

Co-chair of SAPA Women’s Assistance Committee – Captain Alison Britton

Shattering the Glass Cockpit: Creating Positive Change for Women Pilots in Today’s Global Airlines

Saturday, March 4 from 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m.

The pilots on this panel are breaking through barriers to bring positive policy change for women in the airline industry. Having expertly faced the challenges of being female in the cockpit, including navigating careers while pregnant and pumping after maternity leave, these pilots joined together to engage company leaders to make it easier for everyone who follows. Find out what they did, how they did it, and how you can do it at your company—through leadership, collaboration, and action.

First Officer Sarah Rovner

Go With the Flow: Fly Like an Airline Pilot

Saturday, March 4 from 3:00-4:00 p.m.

The subject is operating philosophy and procedures that general aviation can apply from the airlines; such as emergency management, crew resource management, and threat and error management. The goal of the seminar is to educate aviators of all experience levels on ways they can make their operation safer using lessons we have learned at the airlines.

If you’re planning to attend, make time to support these SkyWest pilots at their presentations and don’t forget to stop by our booths and visit our recruiters! One of our recruiters at the event will be Captain Suzy Garrett who we recently highlighted:

Looking for more information on upcoming events SkyWest will be attending? Check out our career guide.

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How I Became a SkyWest Pilot: Koko Kostelny

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

Miyukiko (Koko) Kostelny, a SkyWest CRJ first officer, knew she wanted to be a pilot ever since she was a young child. And after attending a Women in Aviation Conference, where she met several SkyWest pilots, she knew that she wanted to fly for SkyWest.


How did you decide to become a pilot?

FullSizeRenderGrowing up I was surrounded by military aviation, as my father was an A-6 Navigator in the Marine Corps. My family was stationed mostly overseas, so whenever it was vacation time or we were visiting family, we got to fly on many different airlines and aircraft. I still remember as a little girl going up to the flight deck during flights to Guam on a 737, a 747 to Chicago, or a 777 passing through Hawaii. Sometimes we even flew military standby!

Even as a kid, I vividly remember pilots showing me the flight deck. I collected plastic wings from every airline we flew and always begged my parents to wait so I could sit up in the flight deck and get my picture taken after we landed. What I really loved was seeing female pilots flying on long international hauls because I thought “[I]f they can do that, I can do it one day.”

As a kid, it seemed like a dream job to wake up and fly to/from all of these exotic destinations… all while soaring through the clouds. I couldn’t imagine people got to travel the world as a full-time job!

When I took a discovery flight in high school, it was a no brainer. I was hooked, and I knew that this was going to be my career. I knew I was going to enjoy the thrill of flying, and the ever-changing job environment. No day is the same as many things affect our flying, and I knew I would have satisfaction in flying and connecting passengers to the world, just as the pilots had done for me growing up.

What made you decide to come to SkyWest?

IMG_4749I wanted to be a part of something that was more than just an airline pilot. I wanted to belong to a company where I would truly feel at home; where it was diverse; where I could enjoy flying and have pride in taking our passengers to their destinations. I thought back to when I was an airline passenger and those pilots that showed me the flight deck – I wanted to have pride in my job, company and career. Pilots connected me to the world and I wanted to do the same.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have mentors at SkyWest and they have spoken so highly of the company over the years that I wanted to be a part of it.

When I first met SkyWest pilots, I was a freshman in college attending the Women in Aviation Conference. I was a shy student pilot and went to look at the exhibit booths. It was after the market had crashed, so the conference mood wasn’t the happiest. However, the SkyWest booth was something different. Everyone was still smiling there. I made my way over to the booth so I could talk to them.

I mentioned that, “I’m far from the airlines because just a student pilot, I’m waiting to take my private practical.” I was corrected by a female captain as she told me to have pride in every step of my career. A male pilot working the booth said the same thing. Before I knew it, the pilots were sharing their flight training experiences with me and we talked for a long time. I walked away from the booth with a nice SkyWest CRJ200 model (which is on my bookshelf to this day!), business cards, and a great impression of what could be a future employer. I still remain in contact with those pilots, and I went back to the SkyWest booth every year after that… and now I’m working for SkyWest.

I returned to that booth every year because I enjoyed seeing the friends and mentors I met my first year, and because I enjoyed meeting new SkyWest pilots every year.  As the years progressed, I knew I wanted to be at SkyWest. The company attracted me so much because of the great personalities of their employees. When flying on SkyWest flights in college, I saw pilots and flight attendants go out of their way to make the passengers’ flight more enjoyable. Seeing the pilots jump out of the flight deck to help the elderly even on a quick turn tells me that they aren’t here just to fly the plane. That’s the kind of co-workers I want to be surrounded with, and I’m so lucky to have that now.

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

Usually people are impressed! I get asked how young I am, or how I became a pilot.

One of the things I get the most is marveled eyes with, “But you don’t look like a pilot!” I then often ask them, “Well, what does a pilot look like?” Their response is usually laughter and something along the lines of, “Well, I didn’t expect a young, cheerful girl wearing lipstick!”

Sometimes people ask me if I’m really a pilot (even in my uniform!) or “Can girls really be pilots?” and that saddens me because that shows that some people out there still don’t have a good concept of female pilots, but it’s a rare occasion… that stigma is changing with the increasing number of female pilots!

On my last trip, I had an older Spanish-speaking man who needed help finding his gate. After I helped him look at the gate information, he paused to look at me up and down. He asked me what I did, so I told him that I was a pilot. He was so ecstatic to meet a female pilot that he proceeded to hug me and kiss me on the cheek! It took me by surprise, but he told me to always keep my chin high. He was a military pilot in his country, and he never worked with female pilots but thought it was so neat to meet one.

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

Get out to your nearest airport and take a discovery flight!  The next time you fly on an airline, ask the pilots to see the flight deck! You never know what might spark your interest. Have curiosity, and ask the pilots questions. If you want to be a pilot, don’t be shy about it. I’ve done many Girl Scout Aviation Merit Badge seminars with The Ninety-Nines, and so many girls are shy about liking airplanes, math or science. I think it’s wonderful to be engaged in those subjects. Know that flying is for boys and girls!

IMG_5197Just this past weekend, I had my first all-female crew. I was excited because it had only been a month of flying with SkyWest. On one of the turns, we had a mother and her daughter visit the flight deck. Although that family flew a lot, they had never seen a female pilot… let alone an all-female crew! The little girl walked up to the flight deck, pushed by her mother. She was shy, but said hi. After asking us what some of the buttons and switches did, she asked, “Why are you the first girl pilots I met?” I didn’t know what to say… but then after getting plastic wings she whispered, “I want to be a pilot too, so I can look pretty and see the clouds every day.” My heart was instantly warmed and I saw myself in that girl.

There are many resources now that can help with females in their journey of becoming a pilot. I am a member of Women in Aviation and The Ninety-Nines, both great organizations that have helped me become who I am. These two organizations are wonderful ways to get involved in aviation not only for friendship, but for mentoring, scholarships, memories and more. Through these organizations I’ve made great friends that each advanced in their own field of aviation. I’ve been fortunate to receive scholarships for flight training as well. There are opportunities for all levels, from student pilots to type ratings!

These organizations also have top notch mentoring programs built into them. I was a part of them as a college student, and now I’m the one giving advice to younger girls! Sometimes I find it hard to believe, but then I know that I made it where I am today because of others that helped me.


SkyWest supports Women in Aviation and will be attending the 2016 Conference March 10-12. The pilot recruiting team will also be holding on-site interviews for those who are ready to take their career to new heights. Learn more about flying at SkyWest and apply today by visiting www.skywest.com.

Check out this blog post featuring SkyWest Captains, Mary Conti, Suzy Garrett, and Jen Johnson. Not only have they realized their dream of flying, but they continue to set an example for other young women and girls to follow.

Jen Johnson with an all-female crew on a recent flight.

SkyWest Pilots Help More Women Lean Into Aviation

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

It’s becoming more and more common to see women flying commercial aircraft, thanks in part to those like Mary Conti, Suzy Garrett, Jen Johnson and many others at SkyWest. Not only have they realized their dream of flying, but they continue to set an example for other young women and girls to follow.

Jen Johnson with an all-female crew on a recent flight.

Captain Jen Johnson with her crew on a recent flight.

Mary Conti
CRJ Captain based in Palm Springs, California
Hired in 1985, Mary is one of SkyWest’s first female captains.

Mary, when did you decide to become a pilot and how did you end up flying for SkyWest?

Mary: When I was 23, I became a pilot for my personal use, because no one hired female pilots (in 1976). I owned my own airplane, and when I finished my bachelor’s degree, I did some instructing. That led to a job selling airplanes, which led to a corporate job. I ended up flying tours out of Moab, Utah which then led me to flying for SkyWest. 

Obviously, there have been some changes in the industry since you began. What have you seen change?

Mary: There are so many more females in aviation now! Only a few airlines were hiring female pilots when I started here. I was one of the first two female captains SkyWest had! There just weren’t many of us, but as more females started applying to be pilots, the entire industry has changed. 

Any advice for women who are considering an aviation career?

Mary: I am so happy with my career choice. I would never trade it. I love flying. I love being out flying even on the more challenging days that test my skills. I think it’s the love of flying that brings pilots in, male or female. So my only advice is, if you have a real love for flying, do it!

And there are real opportunities here at SkyWest. We have really good bases for people. As far as regionals go, SkyWest is the best. It’s a place where people want to stay. A lot of people, like me, come thinking that it’ll just be a starting place and they realize they love it! The company is strong. We’ve lasted all this time. I’ve seen so many other regionals go upside down or go away completely, but SkyWest is a good, stable company. We have a great reputation with our partners. I don’t think SkyWest will be going away any time soon. And above all, no one treats their people as good as SkyWest does.

Suzy Garrett with her family at the Great Wall of China.

Captain Suzy Garrett with her family at the Great Wall of China.

Suzy Garrett
CRJ Captain based in Los Angeles, California
Suzy was the 11th female pilot hired at SkyWest.

Hi Suzy! So, when did you KNOW you wanted to be a pilot?

Suzy: In 8th grade. I was flying out of Phoenix and it was a beautiful day. There were puffy white clouds and blue skies, and I knew right then that I wanted to fly for a living.

 Why do you love being a pilot?

Suzy: The variety of my days; I’m not just in an office.

 What makes SkyWest a good choice for a pilot?

Suzy: Well, my husband is also a pilot and he flew for SkyWest too! We have three kids and I couldn’t have asked for a better fit for our family. I was really able to have my cake and eat it too. Here at SkyWest, I was able to be senior faster and hold a line that worked for my life and my family life. SkyWest made it really easy to tailor my schedule. Having so many domiciles also makes it great!

Plus it’s a great company. It’s really fantastic! I never have worried about being furloughed or the company’s stability. I can count on SkyWest to be reliable. Those looking at choosing which regional to fly at should consider that portion! Don’t just look at the regionals as a quick stepping stone. You want a stable company no matter how long you plan to be there. Choose somewhere that is going to be a strong, stable company.

What other advice would you give someone who is looking at becoming a pilot?

Suzy: Number one would be, don’t take no for an answer and don’t give up. When I first started out to become a pilot, the military was the main path. I’m only 5’1” and the military and the major airlines had height requirements for their pilots. Everyone told me I should just quit, but I kept with it and soon the height requirements went away! Also, back then, there weren’t women pilots. There is a stereotype of who a pilot is and what they look like, but don’t believe it! Just go for it. You don’t have to be a John Wayne character to fly a plane! Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

Jen Johnson
ERJ Captain based in Denver, Colorado
Joined SkyWest nearly 13 years ago.

Jen, when did you decide you wanted to be a pilot?

Jen: All I ever thought about was being a pilot. My dad and I flew in a 172 that belonged to one of his friends and I loved it. My dad got sick, but I knew it was for me. There still is nothing else I could see myself doing.

What three words would you use to describe your time flying for SkyWest?

Jen: I love it. I’ve been here 12 years. I’m a check airman on the E175, and I just love it here. I love where we fly. I love the people I work with.

What do you enjoy most about being at SkyWest?

Jen: The comradery here is great. It’s like a family. You know each other and remember each other, and there is a family feeling and people care about each other from the chief pilot down.

Any advice for women considering a career as a pilot?

Jen: You can do it! It’s a male-dominated field, but there’s no good reason you can’t do it. I suggest that you go fly! Once you get in the air one time, and the flying bug bites you (if it bites you like it did me) you’ll be hooked. Go out and try it!

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

Jen: When I was a new hire here, 12 ½ years ago, I might have flown with another female pilot once during the year. I fly with a lot more female first officers now. There’s not a ton – it’s still an exciting thing when I get an all-female crew – but it feels like there are a lot more coming, and that’s a good thing.

SkyWest Airlines is home to more than 11,000 of the best professionals in the airline industry. Those who are ready to pursue their dream of flying should apply online at www.skywest.com today!

SkyWest is also proud to work with groups like Women in Aviation International to help advance the role of women in aviation and will be attending the 27th annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee March 10-12, 2016. Learn more at www.wai.org.

And check out our blog highlighting one of our new CRJ First Officers who, after attending a Women in Aviation Conference, she knew that she wanted to fly for SkyWest.

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How I Became a SkyWest Pilot: Julie Hafen

McKall Morris
Corporate Communications Manager

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.IMG_1158

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. IMG_2212.JPG

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.

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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.