In honor of Black History Month, we asked several SkyWest team members to share their unique stories and tell us why this month is so important to them.
Hal Jackman Jr. – CRJ Captain, ORD
Five years ago, Hal Jackman, Jr. received a call from a friend who was also a SkyWest recruiter. He asked Hal if he’d ever considered flying for an airline. While they were discussing the merits of SkyWest and the prospect of Hal applying, the friend said, “Hey, hold on,” and Hal was put on hold. While he was waiting for his friend to return, he received another call. He answered and heard a friendly voice say, “Hal? This is Monica. I heard you’re interested in joining the SkyWest team!”
Hal was stunned and amused by his friend’s bold recruiting technique, but within a few minutes, Monica filled him in on SkyWest and he had an interview date.
“Now I’m flying for the best regional airline on earth,” said Hal. “And guess what, I’ve never looked back!”
During this month, Hal says he has been reflecting on his journey and what it means to be one of only a small number of Black airline pilots in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 3.9% of pilots are Black or African American.
“More than disbelief, I am filled with dedication each and every time I don my uniform and start my day,” Hal said. “I am dedicated to honoring and respecting the legacy of all those who paved the way for me to be where I am now. Undoubtedly, I soar on the wings of giants; giants like Emory Malick, the first African American to earn a pilot certificate in the United States, or Bessie Coleman, the first African American to earn an international pilot certificate, or the famed Tuskegee Airmen of WWII, or Captain Marlon Green, America’s first Black airline pilot who had to sue a legacy carrier just for the opportunity to earn a seat among his peers just a mere 60 years ago.”
These men and women, among others, were pioneers who helped make Hal’s dream of becoming a commercial pilot a reality.
“During this and every February I salute them, their achievements, and their sacrifice,” said Hal. “Because of them, I’ve been able to soar boldly in the direction of my dreams without looking back.”
Brandon Long – Supervisor Warranty, HDQ
Brandon Long was bit by the traveling bug at age 17 when his adventurous nature caused him to move across the country. He hasn’t stopped traveling since and, while his travels have taken him around the globe, his curiosity for the travel industry was piqued.
That intrigue brought him to SkyWest more than a year ago and he is excited about the opportunity to work in the airline industry. Since starting, he has gained an immense amount of knowledge about what happens in the aviation industry and how many people it takes to keep our aircraft flying.
When asked about what this month means to him and his transition into the aviation industry, Brandon said:
“Black History Month is all about integrity, leadership, and determination,” he said when asked about what this month means to him. “It’s about showing your character.”
The achievements made throughout history have changed the way we get to live today, and we are thankful for SkyWest team members like Hal and Brandon who continue to carry the torch, and who continue to act as role models for others to follow.