Category Archives: Making a Difference

SkyWest Pilot Shares His Fight With Cancer

For SkyWest pilot Bruce McNaughton, next month will mark 23 years since his last dose of chemotherapy. While not everyone is fortunate to beat cancer, Captain McNaughton is thankful for the extra time that has allowed him to see his kids grow up, and to continue his passion for aviation.

The Denver ERJ Captain was diagnosed in 1994 with hairy cell leukemia when he was serving in the Air Force. Following his diagnosis, he began treatment for the next six months.

“I remember the oncologist telling me that if I had to get cancer, this was the one,” Captain McNaughton recalled. “This particular cancer is considered an indolent disease; it takes its time. But there was still physical discomfort, life disruption, and the unknowns.”

In 1995, he returned to flight status and moved to another Air Force base. Then, during a checkup three years later, the flight surgeon noticed that Captain McNaughton’s blood count was trending down. A relapse was diagnosed and he resumed treatment. The following year, Captain McNaughton returned to flight status and has been disease-free ever since.

After retiring from the Air Force, Captain McNaughton joined the airline industry and flew commercially before taking some time away to work at a family-owned tax practice.

“I quickly realized how much I missed flying,” he said. “I put in an application to SkyWest in 2016, and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been great and I have really enjoyed being at SkyWest.”

When he’s not flying 35,000 feet in the air, Captain McNaughton can be found visiting with cancer patients as well as sending gifts to many who are fighting the disease throughout the country.

“When I started chemotherapy in 1994, I would go in every other Monday for six months,” he said. “During this time, I would get hooked up to an IV and the nurse would put a jar of “belly flops” – which are imperfect jelly beans – on the table next to me for a snack. It’s a whimsical diversion because you never know what flavor it’s going to be. So what I’ve done over the years is send a jar of belly flops to those I hear about who have cancer. I tell them my story and let them know that they are not alone.”

For Captain McNaughton, just being there for others is what it’s all about.

“I’ve had people tell me that they wanted to call me, but were hesitant because they didn’t know what to say,” he said. “So my message to those people is this: Please don’t avoid contact because you don’t know what to say. Just being there, or keeping in contact with a phone call, text, or postcard goes a long way.”

Congratulations Captain McNaughton on being cancer free the past 23 years. Your efforts to encourage and inspire others is shared by all of us at SkyWest in the fight against cancer.

SkyWest Supports Wings for Autism

SkyWest crewmembers Captain Casey M., First Officer Daniel T., and Flight Attendants Sydney W. and Hunter H. recently had the chance to welcome a few special passengers onboard a CRJ at The Wings For Autism event at Minot International Airport (MOT). This special event provided an opportunity for kids and their families to experience all the realities of flight without ever leaving the ground.

As part of the event, the young fliers went through check-in and security, then boarded the SkyWest plane for a “special” flight. Once onboard the children got to see the flight deck, listen to the safety announcements, and hear the engines spool up. Flight attendants Sydney and Hunter provided an exceptional cabin experience, including top-notch beverage and snack service to the young passengers. 

SkyWest is proud to partner with The Autism Research Center (The ARC) and the TSA to provide opportunities for families with special needs children to experience what it’s like to take a real commercial flight. These Wings for Autism events are a great way to alleviate some of the stress that is experienced when traveling by air because families and individuals have a chance to practice the process in advance. SkyWest has sponsored several Wings for Autism events over the years and we look forward to more opportunities in the future. 

Thank you to our crews for going above and beyond with this event, and to all those who made it possible.

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Hispanic Heritage Month: “SkyWest Changed My Life”

For SkyWest Flight Attendant JJ Jimenez Lopez, working in the aviation industry wasn’t something that had ever crossed his mind as he was growing up.

That all changed when a friend and fellow SkyWest Flight Attendant Vanna Hoang, encouraged him to look into it.

“I bumped into Vanna at a friend’s wedding and we just started talking about her career at SkyWest. She told me how much she loved being a flight attendant and told me that I would be a great fit,” JJ recalled. “She gave me some tips and the next thing I know I was in training and have been a SkyWest Flight Attendant ever since.”

“I’ll never forget JJ texting me and telling me that he got the job,” said Vanna. “I was super ecstatic for him and it’s been great having him at SkyWest.”

Although JJ and Vanna have been based in different crew domiciles over the years, JJ was able to pick up a trip for Vanna recently in what was a full-circle moment for the two of them.

“Vanna introduced me to SkyWest and the aviation industry, and the next minute I’m covering one of her trips,” said JJ. “How cool is that! Every time I see Vanna I make sure to thank her for helping me get here because SkyWest has changed my life.”

Growing up in the small town of Casas Viejas, Mexico – roughly four hours northwest of Mexico City – JJ didn’t have a lot of future career opportunities.

“The town had one phone,” said JJ. “Everyone had to share it and it didn’t take long for everyone to know each other.”

Wanting to give his children more opportunities, JJ’s father, Salvador, worked in the fields as a migrant worker in California. After several years, the family was able to move to the United States, and eventually settled in Utah.

“My parents worked two jobs and did everything for me and my siblings to have a better life,” said JJ.

Unfortunately, JJ’s parents both passed away just over a year ago. While the loss has been tough for him and his siblings, they are continuing to honor their memories by following their examples and keeping their heritage and culture alive.

“I’m proud of my heritage. It means everything to me,” said the Dallas-based flight attendant. “My parents taught me early on about the importance of hard work, dedication, and being proud of where I come from and who I am. My parents came from nothing and gave my siblings and me a better life. Their sacrifice and love is something that I’ll never forget.”

The values and teachings from his parents are paying off for JJ as he is now pursuing his dream to become a commercial pilot. As part of the process, JJ is using SkyWest’s Professional Leave Program (PRO) – which allows employees to maintain employment as they work toward obtaining the training and certifications to become a SkyWest pilot, A&P mechanic or dispatcher.

“I never considered being a pilot until I came to SkyWest,” said JJ. “But that’s what I love about SkyWest. The company is diverse, it’s my second home, I love my coworkers and it provides so many opportunities. I can’t tell you how many SkyWest pilots have taken me under their wing to give me tips and advice to help me succeed as I work towards becoming a pilot.”

The help from coworkers and the doors that have opened to him has not gone unnoticed to JJ, who makes it a point to pay it forward whenever he can.

“When I was working a trip in Detroit, I noticed a family who looked lost in the airport. I’ve been there too,” JJ said laughing. “I went over and introduced myself and asked if they needed any help. They didn’t speak English, but I was able to talk to them in Spanish and help them make their connecting flight. The kids were surprised because they had never come across a Mexican flight attendant before. I told them my story and let them know that anything is possible and to work hard and they will achieve it. I know that first hand because I’m proof of that.”

This past summer, JJ celebrated his five-year work anniversary. The flight attendant and soon-to-be pilot has no plans of going anywhere else.

“I love it here,” said JJ. “SkyWest is my family and I couldn’t be happier.”

To learn how you could become a part of the SkyWest team, check out our Careers page and apply today.

Flying Our Nation’s WWII Veterans

Near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Clint Cawley, a SkyWest Airlines first officer, kicked off a nationwide celebration of WWII Veterans with a very special passenger.

Joining him in a Stearman aircraft was none other than his grandfather, John Glomstad whom he refers to as “Farfar,” meaning grandfather in Norwegian. Farfar served in the Navy during WWII as a 2nd Class Radar Technician.

Farfar’s energy was inspiring. Adding to the excitement of the day, he also shared countless stories and memories from his service.

“My first job choice was to be a radar technician,” said Farfar. “At that time, it was a new rate, and very specialized, it took over a year of training.”

Farfar recalls his role being so new, his fellow sailors did not know what the insignias on his patches meant.

This flight is part of an effort known as Operation September Freedom. For two months, the Dream Flights Foundation, a nonprofit organization, is hosting similar flights across the country to celebrate other WWII Veterans and the contributions they made through their service.

Clint has been a volunteer pilot for the Dream Flights Foundation for three years, flying his own Stearman. This year he and his wife, a fellow pilot, donated the biplane to the foundation.

Renamed the Spirit of The Pacific it will be used to tell the story of the Pacific Theater and used to help honor our nation’s Veterans.

“This is a great event,” said Farfar, “it brings awareness to faith, country, and freedom. Joining the Navy was the experience of my life, and flying with Clint is the culmination of my time in the service,” reflected Farfar.

Thank you to Clint and all those involved in this admirable cause to give back to our nation’s Veterans.

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SkyWest Pilots Share Aviation Knowledge with Teens

Teens from across Chicago had a chance to learn what it’s like to work in aviation thanks to a group of SkyWest pilots: Captains Karl Nero and Khashon Haselrig, and First Officer Emmanuel Ogbebor. The pilots spent time with the group of 15 kids sharing their aviation knowledge as part of the annual Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy in Chicago. 

Kids around a table at ACE Academy in Chicago.

During the week-long academy experience, teens from across Chicago are able to learn about everything from aerodynamics and aviation physiology to aircraft flight instruments and more. The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) has been hosting ACE Academy across the nation since 1992. Captain Karl Nero, a SkyWest CRJ captain based out of Chicago, helped form the Chicago branch of ACE Academy nearly 10 years ago. 

“Percentage wise, there’s not a lot of African American pilots in the industry and so me and a group of friends started the camp,” said Captain Nero. “It’s part of our passion to get people involved with aviation who wouldn’t necessarily get that exposure. I like that kids who haven’t seen pilots who look like them get to see pilots that look like them.” 

Chicago ACE academy classroom in 2021.

Along with taking courses taught by aviation professionals, those in the academy also got to tour two area airports. At Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) the group met with airline representatives to see how to run a smooth operation. At DuPage Airport (DPA), the kids got to board an aircraft, taxi, and use the radio. 

“I wish there was program like this when I was growing up,” added Captain Nero. “I didn’t see people that look like me when I had the crazy dream to become a pilot, and it would’ve been huge at a younger age to see people who look like me doing what I wanted to do.” 

SkyWest remains invested in bringing more young people into aviation and continuing to enhance diversity across the industry. We are glad to see so many of our people getting involved and strengthening their community. 

Want to join a team that cares about the things you do? Click here to learn more about working at SkyWest today!

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SkyWest Flight Attendant Goes Above And Beyond, Unknowingly Goes Viral

During a flight from Oklahoma City to Houston, SkyWest Flight Attendant Antonio Cromwell didn’t think anything of it when he sat on the floor to assist a passenger sitting in first class.

Later that night, his phone started buzzing with texts and calls from family and friends telling him that he had gone viral.

“At first, I thought people were joking with me, then I had coworkers reaching out and I knew something was up,” said Antonio.

The Chicago-based flight attendant did indeed go viral when a passenger snapped a photo of him playing Pokémon with a young boy to keep him entertained on a flight.

“A father and son boarded the plane and they didn’t have seats together,” said Antonio. “The father asked if his son could sit at the front so that a flight attendant could watch over him during the flight. It wasn’t a big deal and I was happy to help.”

Before takeoff, Antonio introduced himself and talked with the boy to see what his entertainment plans were for the flight. The boy mentioned that he was looking forward to playing an online game against his cousin.

Knowing the boy would need to purchase internet to play his game online, Antonio asked him if he had anything else to play with that didn’t require an internet connection.

To Antonio’s surprise, the boy pulled out Pokémon cards and the rest was history.

“I was more excited than he was when he pulled out his Pokémon cards,” Antonio quipped. “When I was a kid, collecting Pokémon cards was a big deal and I didn’t realize that kids still did that. We talked about our collections and then I told him I would be back in a bit so that I could serve and help other passengers.”

After attending to other passengers, Antonio noticed the boy still wanted to play games online against his cousin. Without hesitation, Antonio went ahead and purchased the internet for him so that he could play.

“Seeing him having fun and playing with his cousin… that’s what it’s all about,” said Antonio. “I was just doing my job and didn’t think it was anything special. I always try to provide great customer service.”

“Antonio is a wonderful example of core4 and really even beyond that level of caring,” added Sarah Murphy, SVP of United Express. “Truly a bright star!”

At the end of the flight and as the family deplaned, the boy told Antonio that the next time they are on his route, he’ll be sure to bring him some Pokémon cards.

 “I’m going to hold him to it,” Antonio said laughing. “But honestly, it was great to make someone’s day and that’s why I love my job.”

The Chicago-based flight attendant is grateful for the opportunity to be a flight attendant and to follow in his aunt’s footsteps.

“I had an aunt who was a flight attendant for more than 30 years,” he said. “She would commute to Chicago and I would get to ride with her to and from the airport sometimes. When she finished her trips, she would tell me about her experiences, places she’s gone and the people she met. It sounded like the dream job and was something that I wanted to do.”

Coming up on his five-year work anniversary, Antonio is thankful he took a chance and followed his heart to become a flight attendant.

“I’m so blessed to have come to SkyWest,” he said. “It’s been amazing and the past five years have flown by. I’ve made so many friends and love interacting with passengers and having positive experiences. I’ve had a bunch of jobs over the years and being a flight attendant is the first time that I can truly say that I love going to work every day.”

When asked what advice he has for people thinking about an aviation career, Antonio replied: “Do it! It’s not your typical 9-5 job, but that’s what makes it so great. It’s a different lifestyle and I love it. My only regret is that I did not become a flight attendant sooner.”

Make an impact and join SkyWest’s amazing team today.

Encouraging the Next Generation of Female Pilots

Denver-based CRJ First Officer Abby Jarve is passionate about women in aviation. She had an impactful mentor while she was in high school and beginning her pursuit of an aviation career, and is trying to do the same for the next generation of female aviators in her area. Abby recently took a group of high school and college girls on a tour in DEN and the girls all left with a greater excitement for flying!

The tour was organized through the Wings Over the Rockies Museum where Abby is a volunteer. The girls in her mentorship group have all received scholarships through the museum to earn their private pilot certificates, and are in different phases of their experiences. By bringing them to the airport, Abby was able to show them what a day in the life is like for a professional pilot.

“After I got hired at SkyWest, the museum asked if I would be a mentor for the scholarship foundation and the answer was an obvious, yes,” said Abby. “I hope that I can be a help and positive influence just like the mentors I’ve had in my life.”

The group started their tour in the crew lounge talking about what is done before a flight and the similarities and differences between professional and general aviation. Then they proceeded to the ramp for a walk around and tour of the flight deck of an E175 and a CRJ700. The next stop was SkyWest maintenance in DEN. The tour ended with a visit to United’s Operations Control.

“I think they all walked away with better perspectives of what being an airline pilot is like, how to achieve it, and an introduction to the SkyWest spirit,” said Clint Hultgren, DEN Flight Operations Supervisor, who met up with Abby and the girls during the tour.

We love having positive influences like Abby on our team! She is one of many women at SkyWest who encourage and inspire the next generation of female aviation professionals.

“It Feels Good To Go Out And Make A Difference”

Three years ago, while helping with cleanup projects in the Pacific Northwest, a friend challenged SEA First Officer Joseph Leatherman to pick up trash for 30 minutes a week. Not only did Joseph accept the challenge, but he upped the ante, telling her that he would pick up trash for 30 minutes each day.

“I love nature and the outdoors, and I want my daughter to appreciate it and take good care of it so that future generations can enjoy it as well,” he said.

To meet his goal, Joseph started using his layovers to pick up trash everywhere he went. In some cases, he spent several hours picking up trash and other garbage. Neither rain nor snow has slowed Leatherman down either, as he hasn’t missed a day in more than two years.

“Everywhere I go, I take a garbage bag with me,” he said. “You never know what you will find and it feels good to go out and make a difference. It’s always a positive experience because you are doing something great for the community and the environment.”

Having been based in LaGuardia (LGA), Portland (PDX) and Seattle (SEA), Joseph has had an opportunity to help many communities across North America. Joseph has also expanded his efforts by asking fellow crewmembers to join him on cleanups.

 

“I was ecstatic to help Joseph with a cleanup,” said SkyWest ERJ Captain Jade Braff. “I’ve never been approached by another crewmember to do a cleanup before, but I had a lot of fun. The before and after pictures are inspiring. It instills a desire to do more. To work harder and come together as a community to achieve a common goal.”

Over the years, Joseph has collected thousands of pounds of garbage and was even given a delivery truck to fill each day when he was based in New York.

“It was awesome,” he said. “We had so many crewmembers show up to help. It’s always overwhelming to see an area covered in trash and then become a rehabilitated area. It inspires me and keeps me going.”

With so many wanting to be involved, Joseph created a Facebook group called “Eco-Crews,” to provide information about upcoming cleanups. Besides picking up trash, the group plants trees at least once a month to help offset carbon.

 

“It’s been great to see all the support, especially from the SkyWest family,” said Joseph. “Everyone that I’ve dealt with has been great and positive and that’s why it was an easy choice for me to come to SkyWest. With a positive culture, great work environment and great morale, there’s no place I’d rather be.”

And while Earth Day are highlighted in April, Joseph hopes it’s the first step, for many, to do something each day all year long.

“It’s important to remember that we can all do something each day,” he said. “People don’t have to go and do big cleanups. Just picking up a piece of trash each day makes a difference. It all adds up and every little bit counts.”

Learn more about SkyWest’s sustainability efforts here.

Celebrating Black History Month

African Americans have, and continue to make, significant contributions to the aviation industry. This includes people like Perry Young Jr., who was the first African American to fly a commercial aircraft. He also trained many of the Tuskegee Airmen who played a pivotal role in World War II. There is also Bessie Coleman, who broke barriers as the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license and inspiring many future aviators in the process.

At SkyWest, many of our Black employees continue to inspire others today. In honor of Black History Month, we asked team members across the system to share their stories about how their heritage has influenced them and what Black History Month means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

Analise McDonald – Decatur Cross Utilized Supervisor

For Analise McDonald, Black History Month holds a special place in her heart. It is a time to rejoice, celebrate, and honor African American heroes who have made a difference in our nation’s history and made the world a better place.

From Bessie Coleman to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., Analise is grateful for the examples and the opportunity Black History Month provides to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions that African Americans have made.

“I think it’s important that we learn from the past, but also celebrate the present and look forward to the future,” she said. “History shows us what great people and leaders can do, and it inspires me to go out and make the world a better and more inclusive place.”

And if you talk to any of her coworkers, Analise does just that.

“Analise is my right-hand ma’am,” said Decatur Station General Manager Joey Confer. “She’s dedicated, tough as nails and is always willing to go above and beyond anytime she’s asked.”

The Decatur-based cross-utilized supervisor credits much of her work ethic, attitude and success to her family heritage.

“My parents and aunt are my role models. They have always encouraged me and have always been involved,” said Analise “They helped me to see my worth and helped me realize that I could do anything that I put my mind to. They also taught me that it doesn’t matter what the color of someone’s skin is. It’s about what is inside your heart and to let nothing hold you back.”

With that mindset, Analise jumped at the opportunity to switch careers and join the aviation industry when she was hired as a cross-utilized agent at SkyWest in 2017.

Analise is the first in her family to be part of the aviation industry and is grateful for the opportunity she’s had to see different places and work with several SkyWest teams throughout the system.

“I’ve worked at four stations in three years,” she said. “It’s been a little crazy, but I’ve also really enjoyed it. I’ve had great coworkers and everyone has been supportive and made me feel included and valued everywhere I’ve been.”

One of the ways that Analise has connected with her SkyWest family is by sharing her culture through food. These types of opportunities to connect with her coworkers are important and she sees it as a strength to the company.

“Everyone has different talents, experiences and backgrounds, and it’s important that we learn from each other,” she said.

Reggie Teague – Houston Maintenance Supervisor

For the past 20 years, IAH Maintenance Supervisor Reggie Teague has worked across the country and throughout the SkyWest system working on advanced aircraft systems, troubleshooting and doing inspections to help keep SkyWest’s fleet running smoothly.

Reggie has called SkyWest his “home away from home” and the company’s family-like environment has helped him feel included and supported from the moment he started. That camaraderie was on full display three years ago when Reggie broke both of his legs and was away from work for several months. The challenging time was quickly filled with love and support as current and former SkyWest employees kept checking on him.

As we celebrate Black History Month, the veteran A&P mechanic says he’s grateful for the opportunity it provides to recognize and reflect on the contributions of those – both past and present – who have made difference.

“I’m proud of my heritage and appreciate those who fought for equality and who helped pave the way before me,” he said.” My parents are my role models. They didn’t have it easy and they worked hard to make sure I had what I needed to succeed in life. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be the man that I am today.”

Click here to read more.

Crewmembers Joseph Ngabo, Jessie Newton, and Diwan Williams Reflect on What Black History Month Means to Them

First Officer Joseph Ngabo, and Flight Attendants Jessie Newton and Diwan Williams, who have each had a chance to fly as part of an all-Black crew in the past, shared their thoughts about what Black History Month means to them and how their culture and background shape their experience at SkyWest.

“Black History Month means acknowledging and remembering the work and place African Americans have had in the United States,” said Ngabo. “It’s to bring awareness of how far we’ve come as a people from the beginnings of slavery to us getting our civil rights, to today.”

“Black History Month is a chance to reflect on what others have been through, and a time to learn something you did not know,” said Williams. “It brings awareness and is a time for people to learn more about Black history and culture. Black History Month is for everyone.”

Click here to read more.