Tag Archives: SkyWest Pilots

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.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

SkyWest is proud to have a diverse team with many cultures and backgrounds represented throughout our workforce. This month we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and heard from many of our employees about what their heritage means to them and how it plays a role at SkyWest. Here’s what they had to say:

Paola Johnson — Flight Attendant, SLC

I was born in Santiago, Chile, and came to the United States when I was 10 years old. I’ll never forget that night and the bittersweet goodbyes. On that 10-hour flight, my love for aviation began thanks to an amazing flight attendant who took me under her wing. Though she was working first class, she constantly checked up on me and spoiled me with inflight goodies (pillow, blanket, snacks, and coloring books). It was that moment when I said to myself, “I want to be just like her.” The kindness she showed me really impacted me and inspired me to become a flight attendant just like her.

Years later, one of my friends told me about a SkyWest hiring event that was being held in Salt Lake City the following day. I thought the idea of possibly interviewing the very next day was crazy, but I took my chances, and five years later, here I am!

After my first year at SkyWest, I jumped at the opportunity to join the InFlight recruitment team. I love going to recruitment events and seeing not only the excitement that so many applicants have, but giving them the same opportunities that I was given. I’ll never forget when I asked an applicant a question and he responded by saying that it was inspiring and motivating for him to see a Latina flight attendant conducting his interview. It made him proud and happy to see diversity here at SkyWest.

In July, I celebrated my five-year work anniversary at SkyWest and my experiences have been nothing but amazing. I’m so grateful for the many friendships that I’ve built here and the places I’ve been able to see and explore. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities SkyWest has provided for me and my family!

Eventually, my family went back to Chile, but they left me with many valuable lessons that I still cherish to this day: the value of hard work, having courage and believing in yourself – even if you have to start over. As a mom, I hope that I’m teaching my daughters that same work ethic and showing them that anything is possible, no matter where they come from.

Nayomie Burns — Flight Attendant, DFW

I have always wanted to be a flight attendant. I grew up an Army brat (child), and lived in some pretty diverse places. Both of my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico and married very young. My mom always instilled in us to get an education and to do better than they did. So, although my desire was to become a flight attendant after high school, I obeyed and went to college.

I truly enjoyed my time as a college student and made such great friends. But again, I was in rural Louisiana at the time and people did not know that Puerto Ricans could have such dark skin. I always had to explain myself to others, but that is one thing that I’ve never had to do at SkyWest.

When I joined the SkyWest family as a flight attendant, I said to myself, “I am done. I am in my forever career.” I’m so glad I came here and didn’t go elsewhere. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many great people and have met more Latinx pilots than I can count. I have been inspired by them and countless others to try my hand on the other side of the door.

I started taking flight lessons a couple of years ago and finally received my PPL this past June – right as I transferred to Dallas (DFW). During this time, I have met so many Latinx pilots and plan to join them one day as an Afro-Latina, which I am proud to be. I really appreciate the opportunities that SkyWest affords me and how they embrace and encourage individuality while still being part of a larger community.

Rene Azahar — CRJ Captain, FAT

SkyWest CRJ Captain Rene Azahar credits his father for sparking his passion for aviation and for helping him get to where he is today.

“Growing up, my dad would take me over to Los Angeles International Airport to watch the planes take off and land. It was a thrill! When we weren’t at the airport, you could find us flying model airplanes at the park.”

A few years later, the family moved to Santa Maria, California, right behind the airport. From his backyard, Captain Azahar could see the SkyWest planes take off and land. It was during this time that Captain Azahar made it his goal to be a commercial airline pilot for SkyWest one day.

With strong family support and his dad telling him to never give up on his dream, Captain Azahar fulfilled that promise in 2017 when he was hired at SkyWest.

Click here to read more about Captain Azahar’s inspiring path to becoming a commercial airline pilot.

JJ Jimenez Lopez — Flight Attendant, DFW

For SkyWest Flight Attendant JJ Jimenez Lopez, working in the aviation industry wasn’t something that had ever crossed his mind growing up. That all changed when a friend and fellow SkyWest Flight Attendant Vanna Hoang, encouraged him to look into it.

“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 because SkyWest has changed my life.”

For JJ, who recently celebrated his five-year work anniversary this summer, it all wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his parents who made a number of sacrifices so that he could have a better life.

“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.”

Click here to read more about JJ’s path to becoming a flight attendant.

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!

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.

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

SkyWest is proud to have a global team with many cultures represented throughout our workforce. This month we celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Month by catching up with SkyWest team members across the system to share what their heritage means to them and how it plays a role at SkyWest and in their local communities. Here’s what they had to say:

April Keil – Crew Scheduler, HDQ

Since joining SkyWest nearly 20 years ago, April Keil has spent her aviation career working in Crew Support. She has been a vital part of the operation and despite working nearly two decades in her role, she has no plans of slowing down.

“I love it here. SkyWest is my home-away-from home and while 20 years sounds like a lot, it’s gone by fast,” she said. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

For April, who is both Samoan and Chinese, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month is important to her because it’s an opportunity to recognize the contributions of those – both past and present – who have made a difference, and to share her heritage with her kids and all those around her.

“Family is everything in the Samoan culture and family is everyone. We believe it takes a village to raise a child and everyone helps out. During a trip back to Somoa, I had kids run up to me shouting ‘Auntie, Auntie, look what we found.’ They grew up with that mentality that anyone who is your elder is your aunt or uncle. A lot of the Polynesians who are younger than me in Crew Support also call me ‘Auntie.’ I got some strange looks from my boss before I explained everything,” April said laughing.

After moving from Samoa to the United States in 1996, April wanted to make sure her kids didn’t forget where they came from. After working at SkyWest, April made the most of her travel privileges by taking her family often to visit Samoa.

“We still have a bunch of extended family over in Samoa and it’s been wonderful and such a blessing to be able to visit them,” said April. “I love showing my kids around, getting them in touch with their roots and teaching them more about their heritage, culture and traditions.”

Wanting to share that with others back home, April and her family opened up a dance studio – Siva Pasefika or “Dance Pacific” – to share the Polynesian culture with the community.

“We started Siva Pasefika in 2006 and it’s been fun sharing and teaching the Polynesian ways,” said April. “My kids are a lot older now and they have taken the lead and it’s been a lot of fun to watch and to see the culture being carried on.”  

In addition to the ability to travel and see family, April says the work/life balance, the comradery and friendships she’s made at SkyWest is what keeps her happily coming to work each day.

“SkyWest has been so good to me. It really is my second home,” she said. “I always look forward to coming in every day, even when some of my shifts start so early in the morning. I enjoy what I do and I have great coworkers who have become my lifelong friends.”

Anna and Piraya Supa – Flight Attendants, (PDX and BOI)

Traveling between the United States and Thailand each year to visit their extended family, Anna and Piraya Supa – both sisters and now SkyWest Flight Attendants – fell in love with aviation, traveling and experiencing the different customs and cultures throughout the world.

After the Supa family moved from Thailand to the United States, Anna’s dream of becoming a flight attendant became a reality. After applying for a position, Anna attended a group interview in Portland, Oregon (PDX) and started her training soon after.

After seeing her sister, Anna, have the time of her life at SkyWest, Piraya couldn’t wait to join in on the fun and was hired two years later.

Over the years, both Anna and Piraya have had the opportunity to work several trips together and enjoy visiting extended family in Thailand.

Click here to read more about Anna and Piraya’s experience.

Claudia Liu – CRJ First Officer, LAX

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

After applying, Claudia quickly realized how much she loved flying. She eventually moved to California to build up her flight hours and earned her CFI. Despite the big change, one thing that helped was the friends and supporters that Claudia met along the way, especially Michelle Lee. The two met in flight school and are both flying at SkyWest. The two flew their first trip together this past December in what was a memorable moment for both women.

Click here to read more about Claudia and her experiences.

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.

And 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 nicknamed him “jukebox” because he’s always singing on the plane.

For Joel, 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.

Click here to read more.

 

“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 Women’s History Month

There are countless women at SkyWest Airlines who help to make us the best airline in the industry and who are helping to inspire future generations of female aviation professionals. In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked team members to share their thoughts about what the month means to them and their experience at SkyWest.

Ann Marie Nicholas – CRJ First Officer, MSP

Growing up, CRJ First Officer Ann Marie Nicholas was fascinated with planes and loved watching them fly overhead. During those moments, she hoped that someday she would have the opportunity to work in the aviation industry.

“I always thought about being a flight attendant and working in the back of the plane because I didn’t realize that women could be pilots and that it was something that I could do,” she said. “I flew with my family every year growing up, however, I never saw any female pilots on my flights.”

Eventually, she decided to chase her dreams and pursued a career as a pilot. During her first introductory flight in small, single-engine aircraft, Ann Marie wasn’t sure if they would even make it off the ground.

“I remember asking my flight instructor if this thing was going to be able to stay in the air,” she said jokingly. “But it was fun and I haven’t stopped flying since.”

From that moment on, she was hooked and Ann Marie hasn’t looked back.

“The aviation bug hit me pretty hard,” Ann Marie said. “After flying a bunch, I noticed that I would start to get restless when I wasn’t flying.”

Now, the veteran airline pilot is busy taking care of her family as well as flying across the SkyWest system that consists of nearly 2,000 daily flights to 236 cities across North America.

“I love working at SkyWest and my experience has been awesome,” Ann Marie said. “The saying ‘if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life’ is exactly how I feel about my job. I have great coworkers and the schedule and flexibility is great. With so many trips available, there’s really something for everyone.”

Knowing she works in a male-dominated industry, the Minneapolis native does all she can to give back and help inspire future female aviators. Whether it’s instructing or just giving tips and encouragement, the first officer is determined to change the narrative and misconceptions that only men are pilots.

“When I was doing an observation flight early in my career, I went to the gate agent so I could check-in and sit in the jump seat. And despite being fully dressed in my pilot uniform, the gate agent asked if I was a flight attendant. It was crazy and I couldn’t believe it,” Ann Marie recalled. “Fortunately, public perception is changing and I continue to see more female pilots every day.”

For those looking to enter the aviation industry as a pilot, Ann Marie had these words of advice:

“If you have a desire, go for it. Schedule an introductory flight and try it out. If you like it, don’t stop and don’t let anything get in your way. I took that step and it changed my life. I tell everyone that on the eve of my retirement, I want to say that I still love my job. And I know I can say that working at SkyWest.”

Lindsey Scott – ERJ First Officer, PDX

As a third-generation female pilot, SkyWest First Officer Lindsey Scott was born to fly.

As a child, Lindsey loved going to airshows and aviation events and frequently tagged along with her grandma, Mary Jean Barnes Sturdevant, who was often invited to speak at aviation events. It wasn’t until she was a little older that Lindsey understood why her grandma received so much attention for her flying.

Click here to read more about Lindsey and her inspiring grandma.

Nicole Crosby – Seattle Mechanic III 

Nicole Crosby joined SkyWest in 2017 as an A&P mechanic and loves working on all kinds of aircraft to ensure every plane is in top condition for every flight. She enjoys the teamwork environment of SkyWest, including working with another female mechanic, while also being able to put her own stamp on her work.

Nicole Crosby A&P Mechanic

“I was always the only woman mechanic at any one station at other companies, but now I have the privilege of working with another lady here in SEA,” said Nicole. “I think you’d be surprised by the number of female A&P’s that have been certified, worked on aircraft, but now use their skill sets in other positions here at SkyWest.”

Along with being an aircraft mechanic for over 20 years, Crosby has worked in Noise Abatement, as an FAA aviation safety counselor, as an airline and composites training facility maintenance Instructor, dispatcher, and homebuilt aircraft builder, among other positions. She’s repaired aircraft in general aviation and business aviation, from regionals to Boeing 767 aircraft.

Click here to read more about Nichole and her experiences.

Debby Thompson – Flight Attendant, MSP

It was a moment that Minneapolis (MSP) Flight Attendant Debby Thompson won’t soon forget.

After making her way to the gate to check-in, and then boarding the CRJ900 aircraft to work the last flight of the night, the nine-year veteran got a lovely surprise when she met her crewmembers working the flight from Minneapolis to Cedar Rapids, Iowa last month. Despite having worked thousands of flights in her career, that Saturday night flight was the first time that she can remember working with an all-female crew.

“It was fun and a proud moment for me,” said Debby. “I didn’t know beforehand it was going to be an all-female crew. Everyone was excited and it showed just how far women have come in the airline industry and that women can do anything they put their mind to.”

Click here to read more about Debby’s experience.

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.”

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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.”

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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.