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The end of the beginning…

April 25th, 2005 · 1 Comment

For the past six-and-a-half years, I’ve flown as first-officer and captain on turboprops and jets for two different airlines. Prior to that, I was a flight instructor for one of the largest aviation universities in the United States. And even before that, I was a struggling student-of-the-craft, working my way towards my advanced ratings. All-totalled, I’ve been flying nearly thirteen years. Aside from the first few months of that, every bit of time I’ve logged in airplanes has been towards one single goal: a career as a pilot for a major airline. More specifically, a career with Southwest.

As of yesterday, the time of preparation and time-building and dues-paying has ended for me. The only way I can better describe it is that I’ve at last reached “the end of the beginning.”

Looking back, the beginning of my career as an airline pilot didn’t last long. While I looked forward seven years ago to where I was wanting to be, it looked as if it would take an eternity. And really, it could have taken much longer. Had I not made some of the decisions I’ve made or had I not been given a few of the breaks I’ve been given, I could still be years from reaching my goal. Fortunately for me, my charmed life within this industry life continues.

From today, looking forward to the day I turn 60 (28 years and 1 month from the day I start at Southwest), it looks as if I’m in store for a long fruitful career.

*****

The “end of the beginning” for me was marked by my final four-day trip with SkyWest. The trip went nearly flawlessly, aside from a mechanical issue that had us grounded in Colorado Springs on day 3. I flew the whole time, as my first officer was gracious enough to understand my desire to be at the controls for my entire final trip. I was also pleased to have had one of my favorite coworkers join me on this last trip as one of my flight attendants.

During the course of my trip, I was amazed at how many friends that I hadn’t seen in ages filtered through the Denver crew lounge. It was almost as if we were all meant to meet up one last time before I left. There sure are a lot of folks I’m going to miss working with. Hopefully, I’ll get to work with quite a few of them again soon! Keep building that Pilot-In-Command time, guys!

My final overnight with SkyWest was on Saturday night in Fresno, CA. Fresno is the domicile where I cut my teeth at SkyWest. I spent my first year at SkyWest there as a first officer. I went through captain school there. And I spent another two years as a reserve captain on the EMB-120 Brasilia in Fresno. I’ve got a lot of friends in Fresno. In fact, many of them came to wish me luck on my final night overnight.

I’m in the center, and from left-t0-right are my good friends Dan, Tiffany, John, Amy, and
Amy’s boyfriend (who’s name I can’t recall..sorry bud).

The following morning, after a night where I was unable to stop thinking about things long enough to get some sleep, I flew my final flight with SkyWest. The leg was from Fresno to Denver, and it couldn’t have been a nicer morning. Taking off just prior dawn, we turned East to fly over Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas to watch the sun rise. Our flight lasted an hour and fifty minutes, but it seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. Before long, I was on the ground in Denver after working hard to make my final landing a real greaser.

As I stood in the doorway, thanking my passengers for their business, I was surprised at how many of them were saying “Good luck at Southwest!” and “Thanks for making your last landing one of the smoothest I’ve ever had!” Apparently, my flight attendants had made an announcement to them that I was moving on to bigger and better things. I couldn’t help but get just a little emotional.

A few more emotional farewells from friends in the crew lounge capped off my final trip. Then, it was outside again to take one last picture in front of the jet I’ve captained for the last two-and-a-half years.

And that’s the “end of the beginning.” I’ve got a little more weight now, and a little less hair, too. But the beginning sure was a fun ride!

I wish everyone that I’ve worked with at SkyWest over the past six years the best of luck. Thanks for a great time!

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Anonymous // Apr 26, 2005 at 12:20 am

    Best of luck at LUV.

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