As part of Black History Month we have been sharing the stories of several SkyWest team members. There are also a number of the Black aviation professionals on the SkyWest team who have helped to pave the way at our airline too:
Beverley Mendez – Flight Attendant, SFO
Beverley Mendez was among our first Black flight attendants and was willing to share her story. Beverley wanted to work for an airline and came across an employment ad for United Express/SkyWest Airlines as a customer service agent in 1999. As she was talking to the hiring manager, they learned she was interested in being a flight attendant and referred her to InFlight.
In addition to flying the line, Beverly has worked as an InFlight instructor and chief flight attendant, now known as regional operations managers.
Beverley has a passion for customer service and caring for people and like most of the employees here at SkyWest, she has a passion for the sky and traveling.
“What I love most about Black History Month is an opportunity to educate, learn and share our contributions made as Americans,” said Beverley. “My most iconic Black history moment was made Feb. 16, 2013 when I met Colin Powell.”
Faz Faruki – The First Black Pilot at SkyWest
Faz Faruki always knew that he would fly. While growing up in Uganda, he was inspired by everything aviation as he listened to stories of the great Black aviators in America.
After moving to the U.S. to start his family, he knew it was time to test his wings. Faz started flying for SkyWest in 1986 out of Santa Barbara and was the first Black pilot on the team. He spent 27 years flying at SkyWest.
“I never thought about being the first of anything, let alone the first Black pilot at SkyWest,” said Faz. “I never focused on that because my time at SkyWest was great and everyone treated me so well.”
When asked about his time with SkyWest, Faz said, “From scheduling to dispatch, everyone made me feel welcome! The people I worked with made it a great experience. A great company that let me have a greater job”.
The highlight of his time here was flying with his son Shahn, who was a first officer with SkyWest, right before retiring.
“I feel honored because for me Black History Month means being a Black person who can work hard and not care about what everyone else is saying,” said Faz. “I hope someone is inspired along the way. I am grateful for my time as a pilot and I’m happy I flew with SkyWest, especially as the first Black pilot.”
Elamin Elamin – General Facility Maintenance, SLC
In 1998, Elamin Elamin started working at the SLC airport. During his time there, he worked alongside many SkyWest employees and knew he wanted to work for SkyWest. In 2007, he got his chance when he received a job offer at the SkyWest hangar in SLC.
I have a very large family here in the states and in Sudan, and I work hard for them,” said Elamin. “I love my job at SkyWest because I get to be with my family and I get to travel to see them more than I could anywhere else.
When asked about what this month means to him, Elamin said, “Black History Month is important because it reminds me to be grateful for so many things. I think hard on the time I’ve spent working for my family and the love I have for them. My wife is having a baby very soon and think of the love that is coming. This month I think of the gratitude I have for those in my life at home, work, and everyone around me.”
Eddie Owiti – First Officer, DEN
First Officer Eddie Owiti began his SkyWest journey nearly a year ago. Prior to joining the team, he was working for a government subcontractor as a UAV chase pilot in the Southern California high desert. He was nearing the ATP hour minimums and came to a crossroad in his flying career.
“I considered going the corporate route to build my time for the majors, however, many friends and previous colleagues that were at SkyWest convinced me otherwise,” said Eddie. “I am glad I made that decision! The last few months have been exciting and stressful, but ultimately rewarding. I have learned a lot and continue to learn every time I step onto the aircraft.”
Eddie’s fascination with airplanes began at age five. He continues to be fascinated by the wonder and science of flying and hopes to inspire others.
Recently, he had an experience that truly connected his love for aviation and Black History Month:
“I was eating my breakfast at SFO and I looked up to see a young, Black boy staring at me across the glass. He had his hands around his face and seemed to be very fascinated by my uniform. He smiled at me while pointing at the wings on my shirt and then proceeded to spread his arms like wings to mimic an airplane flying. I smiled back and told him he could be a pilot when he grows up.”