Tag Archives: Pilot

AAPI Month: SkyWest Pilot And Flight Attendant Fulfill Dreams

SkyWest pilot Claudia Liu and flight attendant Joel Larimer share what Asian American and Pacific Islander Month means to them and how their culture and background has shaped their experience at SkyWest.

CRJ First Officer Claudia Liu did not follow the “typical” path to becoming a pilot.

“I was always interested in art so after high school I attended the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in Apparel Design,” she said.

After working in the fashion industry for three years, she decided it was time for a change. Her mom suggested she apply for a pilot cadet program with Eva Air in Taiwan.

“Growing up in Taiwan it was almost unheard of for a female to become a pilot,” Claudia said. “My family is pretty traditional and I had some family members who did not approve or believe I could become a pilot.”

Despite it being such a big change, Claudia decided to apply and immediately found that she loved flying. She eventually moved to California as she was building up her flight hours and earned her CFI.

“For me, the path to being a pilot was not easy. I had no basic knowledge or foundation of what it takes to become a pilot,” said Claudia. “There were many times where I questioned myself and wanted to give up. I am so glad I pushed through it.”

One thing that helped the process was the friends and supporters that Claudia met along the way, especially Michelle Lee. While they met in flight school, both are now flying at SkyWest. Michelle is a CRJ captain based in LAX.

“Ever since she upgraded to captain I have been looking forward to the day when we would be able to fly together,” said Claudia.

That chance finally came this past December when the two women were able to bid on the same trip.

“It was such a cool experience,” said Claudia. “In my experience it’s rare to see two female pilots in the flight deck and even less common to see two Asian female pilots. I really hope it will inspire and encourage other Asian females to consider becoming a pilot.”

Joel Larimer – Flight Attendant, SEA

After moving from Guam to the United States in 2003, Seattle (SEA) Flight Attendant Joel Larimer fulfilled his dream of becoming a flight attendant.

“It was always something that I wanted to do,” he said. “I went to a SkyWest open house with a friend, ended up getting hired, and the rest was history.”

For the past 16 years, Joel has been a fan favorite 35,000 feet in the air as he sings, dances and helps provide a great travel experience for passengers. Several frequent fliers have on his route have nicknamed him “jukebox” because he’s always singing on the plane.

“It’s a great way to break the ice, cheer people up and it’s a great conversation starter too,” said Joel. “A lot of people then ask about my background and it’s great to be able to share my culture, customs and traditions with them.”

Sharing his culture goes beyond just talking with passengers or making famous Chamorro food dishes for coworkers. It’s about informing, inspiring and helping to connect the world.

“Everyone has something to contribute and it’s important that we appreciate and celebrate the differences that we have,” he said. “We can all learn something from each other and we must not forget who we are or where we came from. 

When he’s not flying, Joel can be found teaching the language as well as cultural dances to more than 100 students. In 2012, he started Guma’ Imahe — a nonprofit organization — teaching youth about Guam through dance and music. The group has grown from 25 students to more than 100 and includes some Polynesian dance as well.

“I started dancing when I was 12 and it helped connect me to the culture,” said Joel. “That’s why I started Guma’ Imahe to give back and to help connect people to their heritage.

Serving others and giving back is what led Joel to become a flight attendant. But when he first told his parents of his decision to join the aviation industry, they were caught off guard, seeing as how he had his teaching degree.

“My parents were a little skeptical at first when I told them, but they were also very supportive at the same time. Now they use the flight benefits more than I do,” Joel said laughing.

Coming up on his 16-year work anniversary, Joel has no plans of going anywhere else.

“I love it here,” he said. “SkyWest provides a great work-life balance and it’s full of great people. I’ve made so many friends here and I fly with crews who are respectful and who appreciate me and my cultural differences.”  

Melissa Montiel Jimenez – A Latina Role Model

SkyWest is known for its exceptional group of diverse people whose common goal is the pursuit of excellence. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize one of our own pilots whose heritage has played a key role in her career as a pilot.

SkyWest ERJ First Officer Melissa Montiel Jimenez was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. Her grandmother’s interest in aviation sparked a passion in Montiel.

My grandmother owns a local radio station and hosted a show that featured people who worked in aviation. I was fascinated by her stories.”

Montiel’s grandmother would often take the whole family to nearby San Diego to watch the Blue Angels and other air shows. From an early age, Montiel was inspired by those pilots and knew she could do the same thing.

While Montiel was studying marketing in college, the aviation bug started to pull her towards flying. She joined an introductory aviation class to learn more about operating an airplane. After extensive research, she decided to begin flight training in San Diego.

While studying aviation, Montiel learned that women make up a small percentage of pilots across the industry. “As a Latina female, that was enough motivation for me to know it could be done,” said Montiel.

“My family thought this passion was nothing more than an expensive hobby,” she recalls. Others outside her family doubted her motivation. Some even asked her if the reason she joined flight school was to find a husband. Montiel ignored the skeptics and continued to work toward making her childhood dream a reality.

Montiel began her career flying with a company in Mexico, overcoming many obstacles on her path. She recalls passengers refusing to fly with her because she is a female.

“Even when I think I am not as experienced as other people, I know I can be a role model for myself and others.”

She never looked back and joined the SkyWest team in 2017.

When asked about her decision to come to SkyWest, Montiel stated, “I wanted to make sure I was joining the best airline; one that would give me the possibility of growth and be able to provide a good quality of life while still providing time to be with my family. I could not be happier about my decision to join SkyWest.”

Montiel has embraced being a role model and representing her community. Pilots often tell her she is the first woman and Mexican they have flown with.

“I want to hold the standard of the Latina pilot very high,” she says. “We are known as hard workers, and have an amazing culture.”

Montiel says the best part of being a Latina in aviation is opening potentially closed doors for others and showing what is possible. “Dreams can be accomplished, and I am proof,” she says.

 

 

Mother Son Flying

Mother and Son Take Flight Together

Family Flying Together“Mom, secure the cabin.”

Trenton Crull’s announcement from the flight deck was a moment a lifetime in the making and a thrill for both him and his mom.

“I’ve had the privilege to fly both my mom and dad while they were passengers on my flight before, but being able to work with my mom as the flight attendant was pretty special,” said Trenton. “Being able to say, ‘Mom secure the cabin’ just made it all that more meaningful.”

Trenton is a SkyWest CRJ captain based in Colorado Springs, Colorado (COS) and Melodee Crull is a flight attendant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota (MSP), so the opportunity to work flight 4037 between Minneapolis and Bismarck, North Dakota together earlier this year was a rare treat.

“I told my passengers they were part of a very unique flight, as my son was one of the pilots and we were working our first flight together. ‘Mom, secure the cabin’ definitely brought laughter from the passengers,” said Melodee. “As I sat in the jumpseat upon takeoff, it was hard not to tear up thinking about my son flying the plane that I was working as a flight attendant. It’s not often that so many dreams come true in one day!”

Mother and son have crossed paths a few times since Trenton’s early days at SkyWest when he was stationed in Detroit, Michigan (DTW). Once Trenton moved to COS, their schedules got more difficult to coordinate.

“I have wanted to do this since I found out Trenton was joining me at SkyWest in November of 2017. Believe me, we’ve tried several times to get things to work out,” said Melodee.

“Luckily I had three weeks off waiting for my captain Initial Operating Experience and I found a trip to pick up in MSP,” added Trenton. “There was already a flight attendant on it, but my mom messaged her and worked it out to get on that trip.”

Melodee attributes her love of airplanes to her father, who worked at Cessna and Boeing in Wichita, Kansas when she was young. Being a flight attendant was always her dream, but for several years she filled her life with caring for a family. In 2017, the perfect opportunity came for Melodee to revive Mother and Son Flighther childhood dream and she interviewed with SkyWest.

“I love my crews. I have made so many great friends and anyone who has flown with me knows, I am a bit of a comedian and love to joke around and have fun. I also love interacting with my passengers! I have so much fun kidding around with them,” said Melodee. “I love that SkyWest has provided the opportunity to visit places I would otherwise never have got to visit.”

Her happiness at SkyWest influenced Trenton’s decision to come to SkyWest as well.

Melodee remembers her son aspired to be a pilot as early as the 2nd grade. A local pilot in the Crull’s hometown would take kids up on a flight as a reward for completing a school reading program every year and Trenton got to fly with him a few times.

“After that first flight I was hooked. I loved flying, but I didn’t know how to make it a career,” said Trenton. “It wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I started looking at how to pursue aviation as a career.”

Trenton completed flight training at the University of Central Missouri. He taught there for about a year after earning his certifications and then took a job flying private jets in St. Louis. When he earned the flight hours and experience to move to a regional airline, and with some urging from his mom, he applied at SkyWest.

“I remember texting him and saying, ‘YOU HAVE TO APPLY WITH SKYWEST! This company is amazing,’” recalled Melodee.

“She talked highly of SkyWest as a company and how fun the crews were and it was then that I started looking more in-depth at it,” said Trenton. “She was a big factor in my decision to come to SkyWest.”

“Trenton has recently finished his upgrade to captain and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Melodee. “He is a great person, with compassion for people and he truly loves his career, that’s what makes him a great pilot. I would be honored to fly with this captain any day.”

Thank you to all the moms like Melodee who inspire us to pursue our dreams in the aviation industry.

Experience Pays: First Officer Balances Career and Family with SkyWest 121 Program

Lucy Czupryn, a SkyWest Airlines E175 first officer based in Chicago, started her career as a pilot flying for a different 121 operator. She spent five years gaining valuable flight experience and building her seniority. Then, she shifted her focus to starting a family and left aviation.

“When I started my family, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to come back to aviation,” said Czupryn. “SkyWest made it possible for me to come back to what I love doing. We have several programs to foster and encourage women to return to the workforce.”

When Czupryn returned to the workforce, she decided to take advantage of the SkyWest Industry Experience Credit program. This program offers pilots a pay credit match for their years of FAR 121 experience, up to 10 years. The match also applies credit for 401(k) matching, profit sharing, and leave time accrual.Lucy Czupryn“Prior to that program, there wasn’t anywhere to go to make a lateral move,” said Czupryn. “The 121 program made it an easy choice to pick SkyWest because with my experience prior to my leave, I was able to start at SkyWest with a higher hourly wage. This program made it affordable for me to return to the workforce.”

Czupryn also leaned on the SkyWest Family Support Committee as she balanced raising a family and returning to the skies. The committee, formed in conjunction with the SkyWest Airlines Pilot Association, is a group of SkyWest peers dedicated to supporting women and men through welcoming a new child into an aviation family. This committee provides support through the leave of absence processes, fitness for duty while pregnant and during postpartum, maternity uniform exchanges, pumping, or weaning in preparation to return to work, financial planning for parenthood and one-on-one mentoring.

Through this program, SkyWest provided Czupryn a stable and supportive place to resume her professional pilot career.

“With my flexible schedule, I get to fly and still spend quality time with my family helping at the school, watching their games and practices, or just cuddling and watching movies together.”

Czupryn lives in Northwest Indiana with her husband and four children and loves taking her family on adventures. She enjoys seeing new places and expects her career to one day take her to the stars.

“When I was little, I always wanted to be an astronaut,” said Czupryn, who is still striving for space. “I love flying. I love being above the clouds and looking out at the world.”

With her parents’ support, Czupryn grew up attending science camps and classes at local college campuses. She learned to assemble computers and studied successful women, including her own mom. Czupryn’s mother graduated from Purdue University in the first class of computer science majors and set an example for her daughter of being a woman in a male-dominated field.

In high school, Czupryn set her sights on becoming a professional pilot. She followed her mother’s footsteps to Purdue, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in professional flight and a master’s degree in aviation technology while flight instructing to gain flight hours.

“I love the technical challenge of operating aircraft. It’s exhilarating to take off and land such a large vessel and bring people safely from point A to point B,” said Czupryn. “Connecting people to important events in their lives brings me enjoyment as well.”

Czupryn is one of several SkyWest employees who attended the 2020 Women in Aviation International conference. She encourages prospective aviators to keep studying and work hard. “Don’t give up. Find other professionals in the field to talk to about their journey,” Czupryn advises. “And make sure to check out ‘SkyBest’!”

To learn more about the opportunities available at SkyWest and how you can receive industry experience credit, click here.

Farewell Captain Victor Mourao

SkyWest is home to some of the best aviators in the industry who are highly sought after thanks to high-quality training programs, experience and commitment to quality. Flying for four major airline partners into more than 250 airports across North America, SkyWest pilots have more exposure to opportunity than any other regional pilot.

One SkyWest pilot, Captain Victor Mourao, was recently recruited by his top choice mainline carrier. Before his final departure, Captain Mourao shared his thoughts about his SkyWest experience:

“I love this company, I love our people, and it has been a true home during my time here. I feel like I have not only grown as a pilot, but also as an individual,” said Captain Mourao.

This Minneapolis-based Captain had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of pilots regularly. He had nothing but compliments for his 5,000 pilot team members and credits SkyWest for his ability to secure his first-choice carrier.

“This growth has come from the associations that I have been able to foster, and the privilege to have worked side-by-side with such passionate, high-caliber professionals here at SkyWest. I am a product of the culture, the people, and the experiences I have had while working here, and I will be forever grateful for all that this ‘little’ airline, out of St. George, Utah, has allowed me to become.”

For Captain Mourao, despite the cold, Minneapolis quickly became a warm community he enjoys calling home, where he spent the last five years learning and growing as both a pilot and a person.

“I raised my little family here and had many wonderful growth experiences because I was awarded MSP out of training. The people, and their work ethic and warmth, make it a special place – and they make MSP a truly fantastic place to work.”

Captain Mourao noted the people he was able to work with every day made all the difference, noting their professionalism and the many lifelong friendships fostered.

“I’ll be leaving SkyWest a better man, professional, and pilot, with a treasure chest of friends whom I will cherish for the rest of my life. It’s been an amazing ride, and while I feel like I could have done more, I’m proud of the work that I’ve been given the chance to contribute.”

A common theme across the company is SkyWest’s people make the airline a great place to work. Whatever their skillset, from the flight deck to the hangar, from the gate to the cabin and everywhere behind the scenes, SkyWest people often provide a similar response,

“SkyWest Airlines is the envy of the industry, and that’s in great part due to their ability to lead such a highly capable team of professionals.”

We wish Captain Victor Mourao best of luck on his new adventure and thank all of our incredible people for making SkyWest such a great place to work.

Click here to join our team today.

 

SkyWest pilot Ralf Socher on Denali

SkyWest First Officer Reaches 20,000 Feet, Without a Plane

When he’s not climbing to 35,000 feet as a pilot, SkyWest CRJ First Officer Ralf Socher is climbing mountains nearly as high!

This past year, Socher had the chance to traverse and summit Denali. At 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America. This height and it’s location near the Arctic Circle make the mountain prone to extreme weather. Reaching the summit requires discipline, strength and focus; skills that Socher has developed through practice and his experience as a pilot.

SkyWest pilot Ralf Socher on Denali

“Mountaineering, particularly on high, remote peaks like Denali, can be compared to flying in regards to the need for situational awareness and planning,” said Socher. “As with flying, always having an alternate plan in mind in case something changes or goes wrong is critical.”

Socher’s first experience with mountain climbing took place in the Alps when he was 16, but it wasn’t until he was a new hire with SkyWest, based out of Fresno, California (FAT), that mountain climbing became a regular activity.

“As a pilot at SkyWest I appreciate the schedule flexibility that allows me time to go climbing and train for big expeditions like Denali…and with Fresno’s close proximity to Yosemite, I took the opportunity to expand my technical skills often.”

Scaling Denali took Socher and his group 14 days. Along the way he encountered numbingly cold conditions and an exhaustion he had never experienced before. Relying on his training, he was able to overcome the challenges to reach the top.

“In the thin atmosphere, where the sky overhead became midnight blue, I hardly noticed my deep rhythmic breathing. I was focused and feeling light afoot. Excitement hit me as we negotiated a stretch of deep snow along a precarious narrow ridge before joyously striding to the top of North America!”

SkyWest is proud to have so many incredible team members like Ralf Socher who provide exceptional service to millions of passengers each year, while still pursuing their dreams. At SkyWest, there’s no telling just how high you can climb!

Learn more about SkyWest and career opportunities available to you here.

“It’s Just Exhilarating to Be Able to Fly”

Each SkyWest pilot has their own story of what motivated them to become a pilot and their own unique reasons for why they love to fly: Some love the thrill and exhilaration of leaving the ground, while others enjoy the privilege and responsibility of flying one of SkyWest’s 482 aircraft as they bring travelers to their intended locations. Still others love the beauty and freedom only experienced from a bird’s-eye view. Check out our video below where we asked a few of our pilots why they love to fly!

Because of this passion and drive carried by our employees, SkyWest has been named among the World’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE! SkyWest looks forward to continuing to welcome passionate pilots to our team. Interested in joining? Apply here!

SkyWest Crew Surprises High School Senior with Memorable Tour at PDX

High school student MaKenna Albert has always had a love for flying. She reached out to SkyWest Pilot Denise Langholz, asking about the possibility of taking an aircraft tour for her senior project.

What MaKenna didn’t realize, however, was that she was in for a treat, as Captain Langholz and the entire SkyWest team rolled out the red carpet to give her a behind-the-scenes tour at Portland International Airport (PDX).

“When MaKenna contacted me, I wanted to show her that her dream of being an airline pilot could be a reality,” said Captain Langholz. “When I was in high school and dreamed of being a pilot, I was mistakenly told that ‘girls don’t become pilots.’ It took some time before I realized that it was simply not true. I love helping people realize their dreams and it was a joy to be able to show MaKenna around and have her meet some of the SkyWest team.”

The day started off with a tour of the airport before they stopped to talk with several SkyWest employees, including Teresa Nelson, PDX First Officer.

“Teresa told me all about all about the operations, training and the Pilot Pathway Program that SkyWest offers,” MaKenna said. “It was very insightful and it was so fun to be able to see so much of the operation.”

As exciting as everything was, it was just the beginning for MaKenna.

After watching the ground crew welcome an inbound flight, PDX Captain Tracy Leland took the opportunity to walk MaKenna through each of the steps to prepare the aircraft for flight. Afterward, Makenna was able to take a tour of the maintenance hangar, meet more of the SkyWest family and sit inside the flight deck of a SkyWest jet, where she envisioned herself taking the controls as an airline pilot.

MaKenna also got to visit the crew lounge where she enjoyed talking with crew members about their experiences and why they chose SkyWest.

“It was awesome,” MaKenna said about the tour. “All of the pilots were so nice and took the time to answer all of my questions.”

Bob Venturella, SkyWest’s PDX Chief Pilot, added to MaKenna’s special day as he surprised her with a ride in his Piper Cub aircraft. Venturella took time to teach her about flying the aircraft and answered any other questions MaKenna had.

It was an awesome day for MaKenna.

“She hasn’t stopped smiling,” added Shannon Albert, MaKenna’s mother. “She has found her passion and is now focused on her goal to become an airline pilot.”

For Langholz, the tour was a great reminder why she chose SkyWest and why she still loves coming to work every day: “The people. Everyone at SkyWest makes it amazing,” said Langholz. “When Bob surprised MaKenna by taking her flying, it went above and beyond what was already a perfect day. So many others also took time out of their busy schedules to make it all possible.”

The kindness and teamwork did not go unnoticed as MaKenna repeatedly asked Captain Langholz throughout the day if “everyone at SkyWest was always this nice.”

“I felt so proud to be able to tell her yes,” said Langholz. “The people at SkyWest are truly remarkable, generous and kindhearted. It was a privilege to share the Spirit of SkyWest with MaKenna and show her that we are here to help her accomplish her dream of becoming an airline pilot.”

Father and Son Co-Pilot First Flight Together – Delivery of a New E175

“Roger that Dad, … I mean Captain.”

Brent Wilson, a SkyWest pilot and manager of aircraft operations, along with his son Michael, a newly-minted first officer, recently saw their dreams come true when they operated their first flight together.

It was a special moment for both SkyWest employees as the father-son duo took delivery of one of the company’s newest E175 aircraft at the Embraer factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil.

“It was an amazing experience and such a great moment for me and our family,” said Michael. “It’s something we’ll never forget.”

“It was a blast and really proud moment for me,” added Brent. “I wasn’t sure we would ever get to fly together. We always talked about it and wanted to, but when Michael first started flight school our schedules never worked out. Then he had some health issues come up and had to take a break. Then with my position without a regular flight schedule we didn’t think we would ever get this opportunity. So to be able to do something like this is truly amazing.”

The day before they left – with the aircraft getting its final checks at the factory – Brent and Michael got to spend some quality father and son time together and experience some of the Brazilian culture.

“We didn’t have a lot of time, but we were able to go to the beach and also try some new food,” said Michael. “It was a great cultural experience and lot of fun.”

The morning of the aircraft delivery, Brent surprised Michael with a gift. As they pulled up to the factory, Brent handed Michael a hat that read, “Bring Your Dad To Work Day.” He then showed him the other hat that read, “Bring Your Son To Work Day” to which they both wore proudly.

“We went all out,” Brent said, jokingly. “It was just something fun to do and everyone loved it and thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

For Brent, the delivery marked a major milestone for him as it was his 50th E175 pickup in Brazil.

“When I got home I looked at my passport and all the stamps I’ve gotten over the years and told everyone ‘I’m going to need a new passport soon,’” he said, laughing. “But it’s been fun seeing all the new aircraft SkyWest has taken lately and we keep getting more.”

With a fleet of 453 aircraft and counting SkyWest continues its dominance as the leading regional airline with more new aircraft and domiciles than any other regional carrier.

“It’s the place to be,” said, Michael. “Not only does SkyWest have a great reputation, but the quality of life along with its new aircraft and domiciles just makes sense. The training is world class and is structured really well. I have friends in other programs who aren’t even out on the line yet. I keep reminding them that they should have come to SkyWest.”

For Michael, his love of flying first started when his dad invited him on a quick trip to drop off a plane to that needed repainting and to pick up the newly-painted jet from the facility in Roswell, New Mexico.

“It definitely sparked my interest for sure,” Michael recalled. “I got to ride in the jump seat and see the whole operation. I just fell in love with it.”

“Michael decided that night that all we (pilots) do is push buttons and so he wanted to have an easy job like that when he grew up,” Brent said joking. “So he decided to join the team and I couldn’t be happier.”

The two made the 6,000 mile journey back from Brazil, joking along the way.
The long journey required a few stops; after taking off from Embraer’s factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, the two flew to Manaus, Brazil; San Juan, Puerto Rico and finally to the United States, landing in Fayetteville, Arkansas before arriving at SkyWest’s hangar in Boise, Idaho to complete the delivery. Both Brent and Michael alternated flying each leg and held a friendly competition between the two.

“We were laughing and joking about who had the better landing,” said Michael. But just to set the record straight, I had the better landing,” he concluded with a smile.