SkyWest crewmembers Captain Jai Patel, First Officer Brian Osias and flight attendants Janae Hilton and Brenda Garrett recently had the chance to welcome August Sterling, onboard an American Eagle flight from Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH) to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). August was a frogman for the U.S. Navy in 1951 and a Korean War Veteran. This flight was his first air flight and was taken to celebrate his 90th birthday with his family in Dallas.
During the Korean War, August was captured by the Korean Army while setting charges to a bridge they were about to destroy.
“When we came up from the water, we were shocked and surprised. It was something to behold. They shot in the water to scare us and so we couldn’t swim away. We couldn’t escape the bullets in the water, so we gave in.”
Out of the five frogmen, only two survived. They were kept in prison for over two and a half years.
“They would beat us 25 hours a day, and we don’t have 25 hours in a day,” said August. “They didn’t stop trying to get information out of us. Asking us for everything we knew and all we would reply with was our name, rank and serial number.”
Finally with the war over, President Dwight Eisenhower negotiated a prisoner exchange, releasing August Sterling and others. He had two broken legs, a broken arm and had to have a metal plate surgically implanted. After being released from the POW camp in Korea, he was sent back to Lake Charles to be treated at St. Patrick’s Hospital.
We are honored to have the chance to celebrate August Sterling on his 90th birthday and we are forever grateful for his service to our country.
SkyWest is home to a diverse group of people who come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. SBP Station General Manager Jose Vasquez recently shared his thoughts about why Hispanic Heritage Month is so important.
SkyWest: Why is Hispanic Heritage Month important to you? Jose: To me, Hispanic Heritage Month, along with all other such celebrations, is an opportunity for all of us to learn about and grow in our understanding of one another. Humans are social creatures, and that understanding and appreciation is vital for our growth and for creating harmony in a shared world.
Here in California, Latinos account for almost 40% of the total population. Hispanic culture is a part of our everyday life and a key part of my decision-making process here at SBP. As a Mexican-American myself, I am so proud of my culture and inspired by those who share it with me. My heart is filled with joy when I see the sugar skulls on Dia de Los Muertos and my nation’s flags flown together with the U.S. flag on independence days. It is celebrations like this that make me feel welcome and heard here in the U.S.
SkyWest: How does SkyWest support diversity in aviation? Jose: As members of an industry that spreads to all corners of the planet, I feel these celebrations to be such an integral element in the connections we make every day with each other and with our passengers. Having insight on another’s culture can be the catalyst in forming a long-lasting work relationship or an incredible aid to helping distressed passengers. SkyWest is an excellent company to work for as they have always made me feel welcome. I feel SkyWest best shows its support for diversity by always appreciating the insight from our multicultural workforce, by striving to offer opportunities for bilingual and multinational employees, and most of all by keeping us all connected with our families and our homes abroad.
SkyWest: What brought you to SkyWest? Jose: Ihave always had wanderlust. My mother, being an adventurous soul herself, made it possible for me to explore both Mexico and the U.S. during summer breaks throughout my youth. During these trips, I was blessed with the opportunity to experience different foods, beliefs, and cultures within my own culture which opened my desire to learn more about the world we live in and unlocked my passion for hospitality. As a first-generation Mexican-American in my family, I was nervous about the job market. Nevertheless, I was given an opportunity and chance to experience the world at SkyWest on January 4, 2005, at the Modesto, California station. Now almost two decades later I am the general manager for my station at SBP and try to give that same chance to other hard-working and wanderlust souls as it was given to me back in 2005.
Thank you, Jose, for sharing your story with us and helping us understand the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month. We are fortunate for the influence and difference Hispanic culture has made for our SkyWest team!
Click here to see the open positions on our unique team!
One of our San Francisco-based flight attendants celebrated Pride in a very special way this month. Veronica Rojas was on an Alaska mainline flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles when she surprised her girlfriend, Alejandra, with a proposal at 30,000 feet in the air. Alejandra, a new Alaska Airlines pilot, said yes, but there was a twist. She was also planning to propose to Veronica the same day. Watch the video that Alaska captured on this unforgettable flight.
“All the love and support is just super overwhelming and amazing,” said Veronica.
“Pride Month means more than just supporting those in the LGBTQ+ community, but support for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, national origin etc.,” said Matt Taft. “It’s a month where I stand in support for equality for everyone; everyone deserves to be treated equal, and everyone deserves to be loved the same.”
“Not only do members of the LGBTQ+ community come together,” said Greg Smith. “But, this is also an opportunity to welcome others in the celebration of equal rights.”
As part of Pride Month SkyWest’s beWell program has also provided an LGBTQ+ Ally Guide to help us all become better colleagues, friends, partners and allies. And you can find advice, inspiration and support from people who are on a similar journey in the Sanvello Pride Community.
At SkyWest we are proud to recognize Pride Month. No matter who you are or what you believe, you’re an important part of the team.
Happy Father’s Day to all our SkyWest dads and to the fathers who helped inspire us to follow our dreams! Here’s what a few SkyWest people had to say about the dads in their lives in honor of Father’s Day.
Alec Wheeler – ERJ Captain (BOI)
“My dad has been my inspiration to fly since my very first flight lesson. We have encouraged each other through thick and thin. Having the opportunity to operate a professional flight deck with him is the highlight of my career! Thanks for everything, Dad!”
Russell Fields Jr. – Mechanic III (FWA)
“When I was a kid, my dad would take me to work with him and my favorite part of the day would be watching the mechanics doing maintenance on the aircraft. This early introduction from my dad is why I decided to be a mechanic. We’ve both been at SkyWest for a couple years now and it’s great to now work alongside him. Working with my dad pushes me to be a better mechanic because he shows me every day to be the best in everything I do. It definitely makes for an interesting job. Happy Father’s Day Dad.”
Dylan Bechtold – ERJ Captain (SLC)
“Some of my earliest memories are of flying with my dad and other pilots when he went out on flight training trips. I remember going to the sim when I was a kid and being able to “fly” the plane with him. It was the most fun I had as a kid and it sparked a love for aviation that I’ve carried through into my career here at SkyWest. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to fly and to one day be like him. My dad has always pushed me to do what makes me happy and has helped me along the way. I am so lucky to have been able to work with him in the sim and in the air in my professional career, and I’m so grateful for all the help he’s given me throughout the years. Happy Father’s Day Dad!”
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we asked several team members to share what this month means to them.
Adam and Daniel Malik – ERJ First Officers, LAX
E175 First Officers Adam and Daniel Malik are first-generation Asian American brothers. They make up a small percentage of Asian pilots in America and hope to inspire more.
“We hope to change that percentage by encouraging diversity and inclusion,” said Adam.
Their pilot dreams began when they were young. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, their childhood home sat under the approach path of the Buffalo Niagara Airport (BUF). The brothers would watch the aircraft overhead while they were playing in the backyard.
To start their aviation journeys, they began fueling and washing aircraft at a local FBO. Working there, they earned money to complete flight training and attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale together. They were in the same new hire class and were sim partners at Surf Air, Envoy Air, and Compass Airlines.
After being furloughed at Compass Airlines, the brothers came to SkyWest. Once again, they were placed in the same new hire class and had the privilege of being sim partners throughout training. Now, they are both based in Los Angeles.
“May is a special month for us and our fellow Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals,” said Adam. “We are proud to work for a company that recognizes diversity and inclusion, and encourage others to never forget where you came from.”
Both Adam and Daniel enjoy setting an example for others hoping to achieve their dream of becoming a pilot and are proving anything is possible for Asian Americans.
Kizna Loosle – CRJ First Officer, MSP
Kizna Loosle’s dream to become a pilot started when she was a little girl. For her 10th birthday, Kizna went on her first discovery flight and knew that was what she wanted to do!
Kizna grew up in Las Vegas and attended a high school with an aviation magnet program. She received her private pilot’s license her senior year and then went to Utah State University where she studied aviation.
At Utah State, Kizna was a flight instructor, taught ground school on campus, and had a student internship for SkyWest Flight Operations. During that time, she knew SkyWest was the best fit for her. Before coming to SkyWest, she gained flight hours by flying tours for Scenic and Grand Canyon Airlines. She met her husband at USU, and they were new hires together at Scenic and also at SkyWest.
Kizna started at SkyWest on the Brasilia before moving to the CRJ. She is the co-chair of SkyWest’s Family Support Committee, something that she is passionate about as a mom. She is also a mentor and conference committee member for the Professional Asian Pilot Association (PAPA) and is currently coordinating cultural events for their first expo in July.
“I am proud to be a Japanese and Filipino Woman,” said Kizna. “Recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and spotlighting different cultures is really important.”
Kizna has two daughters that she teaches her heritage to. As a family, they enjoy eating Japanese and Filipino cuisines and learning about different parts of the world. Kizna’s grandmother was one of her greatest supporters and having her granddaughter in the airline industry was monumental for her.
“I’ll never forget the way she always beamed with pride when she saw me in my uniform,” said Kizna. “I’m grateful every day that she had the courage to move to America from the Philippines.”
Kizna likes the welcoming atmosphere at SkyWest and connecting with her coworkers.
“Representation truly matters and it’s fun to learn about each other’s amazing backgrounds,” said Kizna.
Happy Mother’s Day to all our SkyWest moms and to the mothers who helped inspire us to follow our dreams in aviation! Below are a few notes that our employees shared in honor of Mother’s Day:
Kylie Powell – ERJ First Officer
“My mom, Viki Powell, has always been such a big support throughout my life but especially through my aviation career. She helped me during flight school with many motivational words and guidance to get through those long study nights. She’s even traveled across the country to help me move. (I was first based in Chicago as a new first officer and moved to Salt Lake City.) My mom has always been excited to hear about the traveling adventures this job has brought me and has always pushed me to experience the best in life. Now that I’m in captain upgrade training, she couldn’t be more proud and tells me so very often. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her love and support. I love you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!”
Mitch Young – Field Services Supervisor
“What can anyone say about the person that makes impossible things happen every day? I know I am where I am today because of the support and the miracles my wife and the mother of my children gives our family every day. She has been there through thick and thin nearly my entire 18 years at SkyWest. A lot of that time she runs things alone due to my travel to maintain the IT systems around the company. I am just very blessed and very thankful for having this wonderful mom in my life.”
Brandi Wallin – InFlight Instructor
“My mother, Darcee Yates, has always taught me, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” In fact, since 2013, my mom has enjoyed walking the Camino de Santiago; a pilgrimage many people from around the world take in Spain. She has walked it five times and each time it add up to 100 miles or more. If it was as all about seeing St James’ church in Santiago, she could have gotten there a lot quicker.
“Darcee inspires me because she is the total opposite of me. She started with SkyWest in 2000 and I later joined in 2005. When I would tell people whose daughter I was they would always say, “We love Darcee!” With sincerity, I would have to apologize that I wasn’t her. She has always been an easy going and accommodating person.
“Travel has really opened a lot of opportunities for us to see new places together. While the destination is interesting, the journey is what has made Darcee the great person she is today. I could not do this job without the love and support I have from her. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I could understand how much love my mom has for us kids. “Happy Mother’s Day Darcee!”
Jeff Garn – CRJ Captain
“My wife, Heidi, is the biggest reason why I have a career. She worked full-time while I trained. Then when I became a flight instructor, she was my first student so she could see if I was any good at it. She followed me to Palm Springs when I was based there flying the Metroliner and has gone on too many trips to count with our kids in tow so I didn’t have to be alone for four days.
“Heidi later worked on the ramp for SkyWest and was a very dedicated and hard-working ramp agent. I was always glad to see her when I was pulling in from a trip because I knew she would get everything done with a smile. She takes that same dedication into being a flight attendant now, and we have actually had a handful of trips together. It is always great to be working together.
“She is an awesome mom to our four daughters and even inspired our oldest, McKenzie, to become a SkyWest flight attendant too! She is incredible and I’m glad to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day!!”
Marie Jensen – Flight Attendant
“My mom, Sandi, started as a flight attendant at SkyWest in November 2015 and later convinced me to join. We’re both Salt Lake City-based and we’re both in InFlight Training.
“Our story started with my mom at a flight school she worked at for many years. After watching countless pilots get hired with SkyWest and hearing all the wonderful things she said about the airline, she was intrigued. She decided to give the flight attendant group interview a shot and that’s where it all started! After tagging along with her on a few trips I fell in love with the lifestyle and the people here. On a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico with a fantastic crew, I was convinced and I applied to SkyWest.
“I started training and coincidentally she had just been accepted as a new hire instructor when I began. It was incredible to be learning the curriculum at the same time she was learning to teach; it was great. I just recently joined the new hire training team as well and it’s been a blast to be able to teach alongside her.
“My family has been involved in aviation my whole life and my goal is to eventually become a pilot for SkyWest. I’m still early in my flight training but my mom has been my biggest supporter and a wonderful inspiration during my time here. She’s a wonderful person, very kind, compassionate, and so much fun to work with! It’s been awesome to be able to work with her out on line and in Training. I’m so happy that we’ve been able to make this incredible journey together!”
Throughout the month, we’ve celebrated the diversity of the SkyWest team and the women who have each overcome different obstacles in their journey to the aviation industry. From all-female flight crews, to female mechanics and dispatchers, and even women of the past who paved the way for us today, we’ve all benefited from the positive impact of women across the SkyWest system.
Recently, two female SLC customer service agents, Geraldine L. and Patty B. sat down with us to share their aviation stories.
Q:What does it mean to be a female in the avation industry?
Geraldine: “For me, it means we can do anything we aspire to do. There are no boundaries and no limits. It’s empowering to see women every day confidently contributing to so many different areas in this industry.”
Patty: “In an industry where job positions have been primarily filled by males in the past, I am honored to be part of an industry that is open to change and is equalizing opportunities for all people. At SkyWest Airlines, women have studied, worked hard, and opened doors for the future. I am proud to be able to help continue this progression.”
Q: What value does Women’s History Month carry?
Geraldine: It carries extreme value. It’s exciting and motivating to celebrate women’s achievements both past and present. It’s beneficial for us now and for our future generations to know what women have overcome.
Patty: “Women’s History Month is honoring women from past, present, and future. Women have worked hard in the past to show the importance of their being in the workplace. This is valuable to me because it equalizes men and women, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. It is an honor to celebrate those that fought for equal rights in all aspects of life.”
Q: How have you seen SkyWest support women in aviation?
Geraldine: “SkyWest offers so many different opportunities for women to be successful in aviation. It’s evident in the various positions held by women at SkyWest.”
Patty: “Over the past 15 years, I have witnessed an increase in women in all aspects of the industry; more female pilots, more women in management roles, and more women throughout other positions at SkyWest. I have had the opportunity to work alongside many wonderful, hard-working women that care a lot about this industry. When I started working at SkyWest, I was taught and mentored by amazing female supervisors, shift managers, and coworkers. Their dedication, hard work, and integrity have taught me the importance of women in this industry, and they all continue to make a difference. I am proud to be a part of the women at SkyWest Airlines.”
Q: How have you been influenced by other women at SkyWest?
Geraldine: “I have had the fortune of working alongside and learning from many amazing women at SkyWest who inspire me every day to do better and to be better.”
Patty: “When I first started at SkyWest, I was new to the industry. I was taught by many remarkable women. I could quickly see their leadership, mentoring, and integrity, and how important they were to the success of SkyWest. These examples have instilled in me the desire to emulate these same leadership values in both my personal and professional life.”
“I have also had the incredible opportunity to travel and learn by seeing how others live. This has taught me to respect other cultures, beliefs, and values as well as appreciate the importance of being different and equal. I am grateful to be a part of a company that continues to provide others the opportunity to see the world by experiencing it firsthand.”
Thank you to the 6,000+ women at SkyWest who continue to make the SkyWest team great. Check out the open positions on our careers page to join the team!
Several years ago, Suzy and Donna Garrett made history when they took to the skies together as SkyWest’s first mother-daughter duo in the flight deck. On Jan. 23, 2022, the family reached a new milestone as Donna and her brother Mark were able to fly together with their mom, Suzy, joining them in the jumpseat.
“Having my mom in the jumpseat was the cherry on top,” said Mark. “It was easily the most fun I’ve had on a trip at SkyWest!”
Mark came to SkyWest in 2019 to follow in his family’s footsteps. Both of his parents and his sister Donna have all flown for SkyWest, so he said it made it an obvious choice.
“SkyWest’s reputation as one of the best regional airlines to work for sealed my decision,” said Mark. “The family feel at SkyWest goes beyond just my immediate family members working for the same company.”
Since joining the SkyWest team, Mark has been hoping to fly a trip with his sister and was thrilled when she upgraded to captain last year. The two were finally able to align schedules to fly two round trips from Chicago (ORD) to Des Moines, IA (DSM).
While Donna had flown previously with her brother during his flight training, this memorable trip was the first time they were able to fly a commercial flight together.
“Flying with my sister at SkyWest felt really comfortable. Years ago, we flew a cross country flight in a Cessna 172 from Oxnard, CA (OXR) to Oshkosh, WI (OSH) just after I had started learning how to fly,” said Mark. “Donna made all the major decisions during that trip and it felt like a captain and first officer situation. Our SkyWest trip reminded me of the old days of us flying together.”
The trip also gave Mark the chance to see how far Donna has progressed as a professional pilot.
“Her landings have come a long way since Oshkosh!” said Mark. “She has developed the attributes of a great captain. During this trip, she was my sister, Donna, but I also got to see her professional side of Captain Garrett.”
March marks the beginning of Women’s History Month; a time when we reflect on the role of women and their contributions throughout history. In the aviation industry, Emily Howell Warner made history as the first U.S. airline captain in 1976. Decades later, more females are in the flight deck, and at SkyWest we’re excited to see a growing number of all-female crews flying together.
“When I started flying 40 years ago, female pilots were extremely rare,” said Captain Lisa Johnson. “I am always excited to have a female first officer.”
Recently, Captain Johnson and the rest of her all-female crew were the first commercial crew to land at the grand opening of the newly renovated Concourse B at the Memphis International Airport in Memphis, Tennessee (MEM).
The first officer for the memorable trip was Bailey Parks who is currently in the process of upgrading to captain. Captain Johnson shared tips and experiences to encourage Bailey as she takes the next step in her career.
The flight attendants, Mary Tincher and Ella Ika, completed the standout female team.
The women all shared that they worked together seamlessly. The teamwork and communication set the tone for an amazing flight.
“Being a woman in a mostly male-dominated field, I really enjoy flying with other female crewmembers,” said Captain Johnson. “It brings another level of camaraderie.”
Captain Joni Thiesse, First Officer Hui Wang, and Flight Attendants Karissa Whitehead and Wendy MacArthur Peters, who were also part of an all-female crew during a multi-day trip out of DEN recently, say they too felt that unique camaraderie on their flight.
During the trip, passengers would cheer or give support to the all-female crew. One hotel staff member even commented on how cool it was to see an all-female crew at check-in.
“Being a part of the SkyWest team that supports a flight crew of all women who have taken strong measures to accomplish things was meaningful,” said Wendy. “It was great to receive acknowledgement from the passengers as well as the support from SkyWest. I am honored to be part of such a great team!”
SkyWest is proud to support our current female aviators and is continually working to encourage and support more women joining the industry. This month we are a sponsor for the annual Women in Aviation Conference in Nashville and were able to support several upcoming female aviators by paying the entrance fees for the conference.