Tag Archives: SkyWest Family

Hispanic Heritage Month: Uniquely Us

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: Amembers 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: I have 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!

Pride Month: Celebrating and Supporting the Team

Every day we have the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the SkyWest team. As we continue to celebrate Pride Month, here is what a few of our people are saying about what the month means to them.

Matt Taft – General Manager Station, MBS

Seven years ago, Matt saw a SkyWest ad on a job site. He didn’t have aviation experience, but did have a lot of background in customer service positions and decided to apply. Since he started his career at SkyWest, he has loved the diversity of our culture and seeing how we supports each other.

 “For me, 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. “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.”

As the station general manager in Saginaw, Michigan (MBS), Matt has the opportunity to manage an amazing group of agents. He credits the diversity of his team as part of what makes them so fantastic.

Matt works hard to treat everyone on his team the same, and says they support each other and always have each other’s backs. That support is his favorite part about leading the team and the main reason he’s still doing it. Matt credits the SkyWest culture for the amazing group of agents that make up team MBS.

“My experience with SkyWest over the years has had many ups and downs, but the people at SkyWest and the support, love, and acceptance they offer is by far the most amazing thing I have experienced in my career,” said Matt. “I believe every person we come across in life needs some kind of love, support, and acceptance and SkyWest offers that.”

Sala Talamoni – Ramp Supervisor, SLC


Next month, Ramp Supervisor Sala celebrates three years at SkyWest. She was very happy to share her thoughts on Pride Month and even happier that SkyWest recognizes our people throughout the month.

“Pride Month is a celebration of growth for our community,” said Sala. “This isn’t just a holiday for all of the LGBTQ+ community, this is a time to show everyone that we have a voice.”

Madison Boylan – Captain ERJ, SAN

Captain Boylan started her SkyWest journey nearly 24 years ago. Last year, she decided to be honest with herself and everyone around her, especially her second family at SkyWest. She came out as a transgender woman and said it has been quite the experience!

“Transitioning at age 54 makes me a bit of a ‘late bloomer’,” said Captain Boylan. “I questioned whether I needed to reveal the dark secret I had hidden for my entire life, but ultimately I reached a point where I just had to.”

Captain Boylan worried about rejection and was afraid she might jeopardize her ability to continue to pursue her lifelong love of flying and aviation. She’s worked with many of her coworkers for decades and spent so many years of her life alongside them. SkyWest is like her second home.

Last August, she came out to her chief. She was pleasantly surprised that the response was to help get her started with the process. Her chief helped her get her preferred name changed that day and encouraged her to order the women’s uniform. The company continued to help her every step of the way.

“More than just the logistical details, I give SkyWest credit for the acceptance they’ve shown me from the day I began this journey until now,” said Captain Boylan. “Everyone has been so wonderful. I was afraid of rejection, but I have been met with nothing but acceptance, support, and help from everyone around me.”

As she contemplated the response of her SkyWest family, Captain Boylan imagined that this month, her peers are hoping to celebrate both the acceptance and support from those around us and the joy we share in being our authentic selves.

“I volunteer as a mentor with the National Gay Pilots Association, and nothing makes me happier than being a representation of authenticity when I tell my story to others starting their journey,” said Captain Boylan. “The local chapter for Women in Aviation International is starting up again and I look forward to pitching in and helping alongside so many wonderful women who share a passion for flying.”

Steven Jennings – Instructor Ground InFlight, SLC

Steven grew up in a very small town in Oregon. He later moved to Eugene and then decided he was ready to move on and see what life had to offer (and he had an inner calling to see the world!).

Nearly four years ago, Steven was hired as a flight attendant. The SkyWest culture has allowed him to open up and grow, both personally and professionally. He is grateful for how accepting and loving the SkyWest family has been over the years. After meeting so many accepting people here, he realized how much he loved this career because of the rich diversity and culture.

“I think it’s very important to work for a company that recognizes and celebrates your community of fellow LGBTQA+ people for who they are and what they bring to the table,” said Steven.

Pride Month has several important meanings to Steven. It is a time he gets to celebrate and also a time to remember where he came from and how much he’s overcome as a gay man.

“I think it’s super important to remember the violence, hate, and suffering that our community has endured in the past and, unfortunately, continues to endure to this day,” said Steven. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have so much further to go.”

To join our diverse team, visit our job openings.

Celebrating Pride Month

June is Pride Month and is dedicated to greater unity, visibility, and equality for LGBTQ+ individuals. Throughout the month we’ll be sharing updates from several SkyWest team members about what Pride Month means to them.

Michelle Parent – ERJ Captain, SLC

Captain Parent began her SkyWest journey 22 years ago thanks to a good friend who told her that SkyWest was an amazing company and would be going places.

“Guess what? They were absolutely right,” said Captain Parent. “We had 700 pilots then and now we have almost 5,400!”

SkyWest has since become Captain Parent’s extended family and she truly appreciates our diverse culture.

“I was so scared to transition four years ago,” she said. “But when I did, I was surprised to learn that SkyWest had their arms wide open to assist me at every turn, airspeed change, climb, and descent.”

Acknowledging Pride Month is surreal for Captain Parent. She is transgender and identifies as pan, and during Pride Month she feels like a part of something bigger than herself. She notices the importance to be accepted and to fully accept those around you. Each day she tries to show people that she is no different than they are.

“I am human, I am spiritual, and I cherish my family with my three amazing children who rule my world,” said Captain Parent. “I have a wonderful lesbian partner of the last three years whom I love dearly.”

Captain Parent also says she is thankful for her SkyWest journey and the beautiful friends and memories made thus far.

“In the midst of many headwinds, it’s nice to just take a step back,” said Captain Parent. “To take a deep breath and watch the sun rise above the mountains. And, to appreciate a team of amazing people who are and always will be SkyWest family, regardless of who they are, who they love, where they come from, or what they believe.”

Greg Smith – Flight Attendant, DTW  

Flight Attendant Greg has been part of the SkyWest team for five years. Several years ago, he was ready for a career change and he hoped he could utilize his customer service skills and also travel the world. SkyWest checked both of those items.

“I’m so grateful to have a career where I can engage and meet with passengers from all over the world,” said Greg. “I learn something new on each flight I work. My experience here has been great because I enjoy providing exceptional customer service and I love seeing the excitement and smiles from their travels.”

To Greg, Pride Month is all about celebrating those smiles and the excitement of adventure but in his own community.

“Not only do members of the LGBTQ+ community come together,” said Greg. “But, this is also an opportunity to welcome others in the celebration of equal rights.”

Jay Briggs – Flight Attendant, IAH

Flight Attendant Jay has been at SkyWest nearly seven years. She was encouraged to pursue her career by her mom who was on a flight and thought that Jay would make a great flight attendant. The rest is history!

Pride Month is Jay’s yearly reminder to not be invisible. She says it’s easy to have her identity hidden from the world as a bisexual woman who is married to a man. The invisibility is part of an underrepresentation of a community and identity that she is proud to be a part of. Statistically, bi+ individuals make up the largest population of the LGBTQ+ community, but they are six times less likely to disclose their orientation compared to others in the community.

“As a proud bi individual, Pride Month reminds me how important it is to not hide,” said Jay. “It reminds me that coming to terms with who I am might have been easier if there were more people in my community that talked about being bi+.”

Jay is thankful for the SkyWest culture and says without it, she wouldn’t be who she is today.

“Because of SkyWest, I was inspired to work with our new hires, to become a lead, and to pursue a degree in aviation business administration,” said Jay. “It’s amazing to work for a company where I can be myself and still be a role model for others.”

SkyWest is like family to Jay and she loves being part of the team.

“From non-revving around the world together, to jumping in and supporting each other in times of need, SkyWest is full of amazing people” said Jay.

Join our standout team by visiting our careers page today!

AAPI: Pilots Embrace Asian Family History

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.

Check out our careers page to see our current openings.

AAPI: My Ethnicity Shaped My Aviation Story

As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we are excited to highlight some incredible employees we have working here at SkyWest. This includes people like Bruce Chang, a SkyWest A&P mechanic in Colorado Springs. Bruce says his SkyWest journey actually began before he was even born.

“I enjoy being at SkyWest because of the community I experience and the way we embrace diversity here,” said Bruce. “SkyWest started from humble beginnings, similar to my family’s story.”

During the Vietnam War, Bruce’s parents boarded a plane with other refugees in the jungles of Southeast Asia and came to America. They were among the first Hmong people to enter the U.S. The new culture was a shock, and learning the language and how to drive made their new everyday routine difficult to navigate. But his parents knew the challenges would pay off for their five children here in the land of the free.

Bruce’s father loved aviation. Bruce remembers looking over his large collection of aviation books and watching him build airplane models. His dad also took the family to air shows every year and loved being near all aircraft. Bruce’s great uncle actually maintained and piloted helicopters, like the Bell UH-1, during the war and Bruce’s dad hoped to do something similar in the U.S. Ultimately, Bruce’s dad had to choose a different path to provide for his family.

After graduating high school, Bruce was excited to continue helping his family find their brighter future. His parents had encouraged him to seek higher education and a career like a doctor, mathematician, or an engineer. Several years into college, Bruce realized those careers were not for him. He discussed his circumstances with his dad, who remembered his aviation dreams as a young adult. His dad enthusiastically told Bruce about his earlier dreams and their family history in aviation. He also noted there were few Asian people in the aviation industry and encouraged Bruce to look into the field.

Thankfully, there was an AMT school and a SkyWest maintenance hangar nearby. Knowing how proud it would make his father, Bruce followed his father’s advice. Bruce and his dad went and met with a school counselor, toured the facility, and talked with the director. Bruce enrolled that day. Thanks to the hard work that his parents instilled in him, Bruce graduated Valedictorian and as the head of the diversity club. After graduation, he applied at SkyWest and the rest is history.

“Now, I look back and think about how my ethnic background has influenced where I am today,” said Bruce. “The overwhelming challenges my parents faced and the experiences we had empower me to move forward.”

Bruce knows being Asian American helps him better see the beauty and worth of cultural differences and accept them.

“I believe I can bring value to this world like my parents did,” said Bruce. “I think I can still make a positive difference. It’s easy to be passive and let the world around pass by, but I choose to be different. Being Asian American has helped open my eyes to this perspective.”

Bruce is excited about people of all ethnic backgrounds entering the field of aviation. He has enjoyed watching the positive change over his 11 years as a mechanic at SkyWest.

“My coworkers acknowledge my Asian American heritage rather than ignore it,” said Bruce. “SkyWest is a company that values diversity; it is apparent in their acknowledgement of AAPI month.”

Become a part of our diverse team by visiting our careers page!

Happy Father’s Day: Thanks, Dad!

The saying “it runs in the family” certainly rings true at SkyWest with aviation playing a big part for many of SkyWest’s 14,000 employees.

To celebrate Father’s Day, and to show our dads and father figures just how much we appreciate them, we asked a few SkyWest employees to share how their dads have inspired and guided them.

Jenny Elmer – CRJ First Officer, DEN

My dad has always been my hero since I was a little girl! He was a United Airlines pilot and I aspired to be an airline pilot just like him.

My dad constantly supported me and helped me get through my flight training. He even reinstated his CFI to fly with me while I built my flight time. He instilled the hard work ethic I have and reminded me to always find the fun in flying. Dad found humor in everything! We had a lot of laughs.

In 2005, I became an intern for United and was able to ride on Dad’s jumpseat for a handful of flights. Then in 2006, I was hired as a first officer at SkyWest Airlines. My dad wins the “most flights on your daughter’s jumpseat award”! He was on the jumpseat of one of my Brasilia flights and again several times when I transitioned to the jet! He was so proud of me and I was over the moon to have him on my flights!

I married a SkyWest pilot and my dad came along when my husband picked up one of my trips as captain. After starting my career at SkyWest, I continued flying trips on Dad’s jumpseat and made sure to join him and my husband (who is also at United now) on their jumpseat to Hawaii! I even rode on the jumpseat of Dad’s retirement flight!

I’m so proud of my dad and I will forever cherish the moments we had together flying. He shared all his knowledge of flying and encouraged me to always be the best that I could be. His great attitude led him through an amazing career and I aspire to work hard and to find the fun in every flight!

Thank you, Dad, for helping me become the pilot I am today! I want to make you proud!

Garrett Hintze – Maintenance Control Support, HDQ

Thinking back to when I was first hired at SkyWest, I remember thinking how incredibly lucky I was to have the opportunity to work alongside my father, my life’s biggest role model. Throughout my time here, my admiration for him, as well as our bond, has continually grown. He has always been an inspiration in my life and continues to set a high standard.

Even when it comes to activities outside of the workplace, such as biking, I find myself eating his dust. His sharp wits and high skill set have always been a source of reliance; hence it is no surprise that I find myself working in the same industry. His consistent support, and faith in my capacities, have played a major part in my success throughout life. He is genuinely great at what he does at SkyWest and far exceeds that in his role as a father.

Dad, you have given me the best things in life: your time, care, and love. I am so grateful to have you as my father. Happy Father’s Day!

Ethan Gray – CRJ First Officer, IAH

My dad has always been my primary inspiration for aviation. A decorated fighter pilot now with United, he has supported me throughout the long journey of becoming an airline pilot myself. I have fond memories of him flying over our house in F16s, or going to the airport to watch him land 737s. Flying runs deeply in my family, as my late grandfather was also a lifelong Air Force aviator.

Both my grandfather and dad were instrumental in my success as a pilot. The countless and riveting stories my grandfather shared kept me motivated when training got tough. My dad always had the right advice when I had a poor lesson or felt overwhelmed. If I ever needed some guidance or just a solid flying story, I always knew I could call either of them. Even though their tales consisted of action-packed heroics over enemy skies, it always came back to the fundamentals:

– Use all of your resources
– Never give up
– Never stop learning
– And of course, don’t forget to have fun

When I got the call from SkyWest, my family was ecstatic. In classic dad fashion, my father said “I’m not surprised!” Similar words to what he would tell me after every checkride pass or major milestone I completed. “You studied, you prepared, and now you’ve succeeded!” He, nor my mother, have ever expressed any doubts in my progression. They’ve been nothing but supportive. I am extremely thankful and blessed for this.

Last fall, my dad joined me on a short turn to Lake Charles. He rode in the flight deck jumpseat as Captain Sonny let me fly both legs. Our schedules so rarely line up, it made this experience very special. This was the first time a family member has ever flown with me as a professional pilot. I was so excited to have my dad and hero watching me work in the flight deck. With such experience observing me, I made sure I was on my absolute A-game. Not to brag, but I totally greased the landings for him.

Now with loads filling up, and both of our schedules becoming busier, it will probably be quite a while before we get to fly together again. That makes this experience all the more fun and special to me.

Kevin Law – System Controller, HDQ

I have always been inspired by my Dad to find a career in Aviation. Growing up, my dad served in the United States Air Force flying the EC-121 the F-102 and A-7D, before ending his military career after 30 years.

With a love for flying, my dad began looking into commercial aviation. Turns out we were both fortunate that SkyWest offered him the job. My dad was hired in 1984, and I followed in 1985.

I started as a ramp agent, and a year later, was hired as a Dispatcher/System Controller where I’ve spent the last 35 years. During this time I was fortunate to pre-plan flights and send releases as my dad’s dispatcher. Another fun memory working together is when he was flying into St. George (SGU) and I let him know over the radio that my first daughter was born. I also had great rides in the Brasilia riding in the jumpseat with him. Dispatchers are required to have jumpseat time and it was fun listening to him talk to air traffic control. I could tell they had talked many times before and had a good time ribbing each other. It was great to be able to ride along with my dad and see him do what he enjoys.

I have many happy memories and have enjoyed the many friendships that I have made at SkyWest. Thanks, Dad, and Happy Father’s Day!

Flight Attendants Celebrate Family

Melinda Lopez
Detroit-based flight attendant Melinda Lopez and her parents were born in California, but her grandparents came to the United States from Spain and Mexico.

“They came for a new experience and the rest is history,” said Lopez. “Being part of a Hispanic heritage is like being part of a big family. Everyone coming together with a lot of culture and traditions from different backgrounds is amazing and something I value.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the history and culture of U.S. Hispanic communities and celebrate the influence and contributions of Latinx people.

Lopez’s family keeps up some traditions like making tamales at Christmas and fresh tortillas and salsa on special occasions. She attributes her heritage with influencing her to become the strong, proud Hispanic woman she is today.

Working at SkyWest has also given her opportunities to connect even more deeply with her family’s roots.

“Once I became a flight attendant, I was able to enjoy the perk of traveling abroad,” said Lopez. “I’ve traveled throughout Mexico and have gotten to see and know more of my heritage. I am grateful for this opportunity – next stop Spain!”

Lopez dreamed of being a flight attendant since she was a little girl. She encourages other Hispanic people interested in a career in aviation to follow their dreams and work hard. She has seen the aviation industry become a more diverse career field.

“I choose to fly with SkyWest because I used to travel on SkyWest quite a bit in and out of Fresno. I would observe the flight attendants and admire what a great job they did” said Lopez. “I always kept SkyWest in mind as a company that I would like to work for one day and finally that day came for me.”

Vanet Ortega-Garcia
For Boise Flight Attendant Vanet Ortega-Garcia, familia is everything! With a deep Hispanic heritage, Vanet is grateful for her experiences and continues to instill the Mexican traditions and culture of hard work and passion to her kids and future generations.

“For me, Mexican culture is about our strength, courage, loyalty and familia she said. “We are united, fierce, bold, colorful, hardworking and unstoppable loving warriors!”

The unity and strength of Vanet’s family and ancestors fills her with pride as she reflects on everything her family has accomplished.

“When I think of my culture I get filled with pride,” said Vanet. “I think of my abuelitas (grandmother) and abuelos (grandfather), my mami (mom) and my papi (dad) who broke their backs day in and day out to give my family a bigger and better tomorrow.”

Although Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year, Vanet and her family, make sure they celebrate their heritage each and every day.

“Being Mexican is walking into a full house and being greeted by your primos (cousins) your tias (aunts) and tíos (uncles), “she said. “There’s also that random tío who isn’t really your uncle  but he’s been part of the family for so long that he is family.”

With great food and Mexican music – which is so full of life – Vanet can’t help but start dancing to the rhythm and beat of the music.

“Being Mexican is togetherness, helping out one another, and always being there,” she added. “Being Mexican is my superpower!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day: Following in Dad’s Footsteps

Brayden and Lynn Bell

For many pilots, having the opportunity to be at the controls of an aircraft with their dad is a far-fetched dream.

At SkyWest Airlines, those dreams are a reality for generations of family pilots who work at the company and at times, even fly together.

“It has been the highlight of my career to be able to work next to my son,” said SkyWest CRJ Captain Michael Jense. “Chris and I have been blessed to fly numerous trips together and it has been great to be able to hang out on the overnight trips too.”

Whether it was spending time working at his grandfather’s aircraft maintenance shop, taking family trips thanks to the travel benefits, or seeing the joy on his dad’s face because he was doing what he loved, Chris fell in love with aviation and is thankful for his dad’s help and guidance as he began taking flying lessons when he was 16 years old.

Michael Jense (CA, CRJ) and Chris Jense (CA, CRJ)

“My dad has helped me out so much and I’ve enjoyed being able to fly different trips with him,” said SkyWest CRJ Captain Chris Jense. “Coming to SkyWest was an easy decision for me because of the company’s exceptional reputation and the opportunities it gives its employees.”

For Chris, flying was in his blood as a fourth-generation pilot.

Dave Bechtold (CA, CRJ) and Dylan Bechtold (CA, CRJ)

“The poor kid never had a chance,” Michael laughs. “But honestly it’s great to see him doing what he loves.”

That passion, combined with SkyWest’s values, continues to drive the airline’s close-knit family culture even as it has grown to become the world’s largest regional airline with nearly 14,000 aviation professionals operating more than 2,500 daily flights.

Captain Dylan Bechtold got an early start at SkyWest thanks to his father, CRJ Captain Dave Bechtold, who has more than three decades of experience at SkyWest.

“I grew up in the SkyWest training department and know most of the senior pilots,” said Dylan. “Because of that, I knew firsthand the culture and commitment the company has in its employees, and with my parents and my aunt working at SkyWest, it was an easy choice for me to join the team.”

Together they have taken a number of trips in what Dave calls “an unforgettable experience.”

“To be in the cockpit and flying together was a proud moment,” said Dave.

For ERJ Captain Marshall Rub and his son Captain Jeffrey Rub, the opportunity to work alongside each other is one of the reasons why they don’t want to go anywhere else.

Marshall Rub (CA, ERJ) and Jeffrey Rub (CA, ERJ)

“I was Jeff’s instructor when he first started to fly and the rest has been history,” said Marshall.

For CRJ Captain Garry Poulton, working at SkyWest quickly became his goal as he began working as a flight instructor in Reno, Nevada.

“I had heard a lot of good things about SkyWest and it’s been more than I could have ever imagined,” said Captain Poulton. “The camaraderie among crewmembers, the family culture, the opportunities, including flying with my son (Denton Poulton), have all been so great.”

So far, the father and son pilots have flown twice together.

“When I got into aviation I never thought much about my children wanting to follow in my footsteps,” said Captain Garry Poulton. “I have seen, in the past, other pilots who had flown with their children and seen the smile on their faces. I know what those feelings of pride and accomplishment are like now.”

For Denton, being a pilot was always his dream as he watched his father leave for work in his uniform.

“My dad was my ultimate role model,” he said. “Where kids wanted to grow up to be professional athletes, Hollywood stars or the next President of the United States, I wanted to grow up to be like my Dad.”

Garry Poulton (CA, CRJ) and Denton Poulton (FO, CRJ)

A similarly unforgettable experience occurred last year for Brent Wilson, a SkyWest pilot and manager of aircraft operations, along with his son Michael, a first officer. They had the chance to operate their first flight together as they 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.”

These examples and experiences are just a few of the many pilots, flight attendants, maintenance professionals, customer service agents and more who have had the unique opportunity of working together with their family at SkyWest.

Happy Father’s Day to all our SkyWest Fathers teaching their children to soar! To learn more about becoming a part of the SkyWest family, go to skywest.com.

SkyWest’s First Mother-Daughter Pilots Take to the Skies

SkyWest CRJ Captain Suzy Garrett has much to celebrate this Mother’s Day. Reaching 30 years of SkyWest service May 1, Captain Garrett is one of SkyWest’s longest-tenured pilots and was the eleventh female pilot hired at SkyWest. Her husband Doug flies at American Airlines after a decade with SkyWest, their son Mark is currently building his flight hours and their daughter Donna began SkyWest flight training this month.

“We absolutely love our jobs. You don’t see that too much in other occupations,” Captain Garrett explained. “None of our kids were thinking about becoming pilots, but when you start looking at other careers that are out there, sitting in an office, and then see how happy we are — it opened their eyes.”

Now, as Donna completes SkyWest’s CRJ pilot training, she and Captain Garrett are SkyWest’s first mother-daughter pilot pair. “I was exposed to aviation my whole life,” said Donna. “I decided to fly because of my parents’ passion and love for flying. They made it so much fun.”

“I got to do a lot of traveling growing up,” she continued. “I was exposed to the world, which was a big inspiration. Experiencing my mom and dad’s lifestyle was wonderful. It exposed me to the possibilities the industry offered.”

Captain Garrett agrees that aviation has opened many doors throughout her 30-year career.

“I am super grateful for this job,” she said. “For women, the work schedule flexibility is a plus; the ability to have a family. What better career is out there where you can make this kind of money and not have to have high stress by taking your work home with you? Scheduling is a big reason why I’ve stayed with SkyWest. It was great when the kids were growing up. I could volunteer for field trips, parties at school and be that mom, while also having this wonderful career!”

Captain Garrett also talks about how their family enjoys traveling together.

“We’ve taken the family everywhere,” she said. “We’ve been able to get away from normal life and the house and escape on these vacations to have good, quality time together. It didn’t matter whether it was Germany, China, Costa Rica or Africa: You’re making memories of a lifetime. My middle child became very savvy and could soon piece together routings for our trips better than I could.”

And now she has the joy of knowing her daughter Donna has joined the SkyWest family.

“I love it! I really love it. It’s neat having your kid experience what you’ve gotten to experience. She’s part of the SkyWest family. I think it’s going to be a great career for her. She likes having variety and excitement in her life.”

Captain Garrett is a trailblazer in many ways. Starting with just a few other female pilots in the industry 30 years ago, she describes how things have changed throughout her career.

“[Back then] I wouldn’t draw attention to myself at the airport,” she said. “Believe it or not, I used to hide. The climate has changed; the reaction from the passengers has changed. Today I feel like I can be a role model for young girls who come on board and show them what’s possible. The doors are open: You can be anything!”

Donna continued, “Don’t ever disqualify yourself or think that there is anything limiting you just because you are a woman. There are so many opportunities to be successful in this industry. Find mentors: other people who are doing what you’re doing and what you’re aspiring towards. Meet other people who are doing the same thing. Finding friends and peers who are going through the same thing you’re going through is extremely helpful. I’m so grateful I have my mom as a resource.”

Donna understands that her mother is in many ways a pioneer.

“Mom being a commercial pilot normalized it for me. Being exposed to the rest of the world, where things hadn’t caught up yet, opened my eyes. Seeing the world shifting is cool. It’s cool seeing more and more women getting into the industry.”

Captain Garrett and Donna look forward to their first flight together and are thrilled to be SkyWest’s first mother-daughter pilot pair.

“It’s exciting and something I’m proud of,” Donna said smiling. “I had no idea how rare it was! It’s a cool moment for my mom and me and for women in aviation in general.”

Thank you, Captain Garrett. To mothers everywhere, SkyWest wishes you a happy Mother’s Day!

Proudly employing over 13,000 aviation professionals, SkyWest operates nearly 2,400 daily flights. Together, these individuals connect millions of passengers each month to 258 destinations across North America. Learn more about SkyWest, and career opportunities available to you, here.