in the sky
Written by Jon Reed   
Upgrade and Coming Home,

It had been almost a year and a half at SkyWest and I was having a great time. The people were great, the destinations and layover for the most part really fun and exciting. I was however excited by the prospect of upgrading and continuing my career. It was still looking like another year before I could upgrade on the RJ and when the captain awards went junior of the Brasilia (EMB 120) I decided to go for it. I put in my bid and three weeks later I was awarded an upgrade on a plane I had never flown. I knew it would take a lot of work learning both Captain and FO flows as well as a whole new airplane but I was up for the challenge and was excited for a change. I was to be based in Fresno, CA, and flying up and down the west coast. I am a west coast guy and was just as excited to get back to family and friends.

Upgrade was a great experience. One of my good friends ended up in the same class as me and we were able to be sim partners during the whole experience. It was a lot of studying with only about one hour a day for free time, but it went quickly and it has been an amazing year up till now flying from the left seat. I was happy to have some experience in turboprops from flying the Caravan but the Brasilia is whole different animal. It is a fun, fast and powerful turboprop and I really love flying up and down some of the most beautiful country in the US.

Captain, 121

The last year has been filled with incredible, sometimes nerve racking experiences but I now understand why the somewhat arbitrary seeming 1000 hours of 121 time is so sought after by the majors. I have grown as a pilot more during this last year than any other time in my career. To balance the needs of the company, FAA, passengers and crewmembers is a continual reminder of how much there is to know and the importance of continuing to strive to grow as a pilot and a professional. It is the most fun I have ever had in a job, but there have been a lot of nervous calls to Chief Pilots and friends to get input on difficult situations that always seem to arise.

Every time you go through something it does make you better though and one of the best things I have heard so far was from a senior captain in Sacramento. He said ?It?s not that I know more than anyone else, it is just that I am familiar.? It is that familiarity that helps you calmly make decisions, way the options and make good choices. There really is no substitute for experience.

During the last year I have had my first divert due to weather and mechanical as PIC, unruly passengers that had to be left behind, not to mention the countless small decisions that help keep the airline running smoothly when you are flying up to 8 legs a day. It hasn?t always been easy but the reward at the end of the day knowing that you have helped get people where they need to be safely, efficiently and professionally is an amazing reward. I still have a ton to learn but things are going well and it really is something to be a captain for a 121 airline. I consider myself extremely lucky and thankful for the opportunity.

Fly Safe and stay tuned for more to come as a lowly Brasilia pilot tries to make his way into the Majors!!!

Jon Reed
 
Written by Jon Reed   
The Big Call April 2004

The big call came. SkyWest wanted to set up an interview. I knew what to do. Study. And study harder than I ever had. I took 6 weeks and studied every chance I had. Flew every approach I could, got my hands on every bit of gouge, every study book, anything that would help me prep.

I flew out to SLC two days early to get ready. Sim Prep, Suit pressed, folder created. It was my time to shine. The interview went great, HR, Technical and Simulator. By 1pm I was done. I didn?t know if I passed or not, but I accomplished the goal I had set for myself. To leave there that day knowing that I prepped as hard as I could and gave it my best shot. I felt great. I flew back to Hawaii and waited to hear. It was a hard week to wait.

I got a call from my roommate that a FedEx Package had arrived. A THICK package. I was so excited I could barely sit still on the last flight home from Honolulu. I got home to find 6 of my coworkers anxiously waiting. I had made it. CRJ200. It didn?t seem real.

I had been put into the hiring pool and would be contacted when I had a class date. I made a call to let them know I was available anytime and made my way back to the mainland. It wasn?t long until I got the call. July 12, 2004 my career would start with SkyWest.

Ground school and Sim training was a great experience. To be there with everyone who had worked so hard to get there, the excitement was in the air. It was stressful but there were a lot of laughs and great friends made. This wasn?t the end of the road but it was a good start to a career.

We bid for Domiciles and I received Chicago. Wow, one of the busiest airports in the world and I was going to be flying in and out of it. I was on top of the world.

Made it through IOE without any big problems although the first time I took off and landed during our aircraft training it was a little overwhelming. Eyes wide open and mouth ajar, it was all so fast, you just fall back into training mode. React and go back to basic skills. It all started to seem pretty normal by the end of IOE and I was ready to be released into the wilds of line flying.

Gitty Up!



Chicago, Trial by Fire

O?Hare is a world unto its own. Imagine two circles, one within another surrounding all the terminals. One goes clockwise, the other counter-clockwise with only one rule. Don?t stop. Ever.

Luckily I got to get up to speed during the relatively calm Fall months. Flying in and out of Chicago was an experience unlike anything I had ever seen. It wasn?t so much the flying part, the only rule there seemed to be fly as fast as you can until they tell you to slow down. The controllers in Chicago are in my opinion some of the best in the country, and to their credit they do the impossible on a daily basis. They manage to vector all arriving aircraft onto the complex maze of runways with only 2 ½ miles separation most of the time. It is a work of art. Then you land. And the work begins. We would usually spend more time briefing the taxi than the approach. It is rapid fire instructions from ground, frequency changes and a lot of making sure you don?t hit anything. I personally saw and heard some crazy events, from baggage carts being tossed into planes from Jet Blast to planes being sent to the penalty box as punishment for fowling up the operation. The controllers are quick witted, extremely competent and don?t put up with attitude. Things seem to work best when you are patient, self-motivated and most importantly just go with the flow.

One of the most impressive things that I witnessed was the park job of almost 40 planes during a thunderstorm. All corridors had been shut down for arriving and departing traffic but everyone continued to push from the gates in order to be ready to launch when the weather cleared. We were stacked up on a huge pad with 4 rows of 8-10 planes, with everything set up for first in, first out order. Everyone had their engines shut down and was waiting further instructions. The ground controller was rapid fire issuing instructions and everything was executed perfectly. One of the last arriving aircraft showed up and said ?Holy cow, this is an amazing park job?. Without missing a beat the ground controller said ?I used to be a Valet.? and continued his barrage of instructions. It was this kind of humor that kept us going in extremely frustrating situations

I transferred to Denver in the winter of 2004 and although would still spend a lot of time flying in and out of O?Hare, it was that initial experience there that really helped my feel comfortable flying in and out of one of the busiest airports in the world, and I am extremely grateful for the experience.
 
Written by Jon Reed   
Flying in Hawaii

I had seen some beautiful stuff before but this was beyond anything I had seen. Flying at 500ft off the water to uncontrolled fields, whales breaching, 2000 ft waterfalls. It was our playground.

After a quick ground school and FAM flights I was off in the right seat of a CE 208B Caravan. It was an amazing plane. Slow in cruise but it would do whatever you asked on take off and landing from the short airstrips cut out of the jungle where we flew many of our passengers.

The days were brutal. 17 legs a day sometimes, throwing bags, making manifests, loading, unloading, briefing and handing out water. IFR and VFR, It made for long days but I couldn?t get enough.

A few months went by and the chief pilot called me in. Three guys had just left and they needed to fill the slots ASAP. Did I have the Mins for 135 IFR? I ran home, grabbed my logbook and made it just under the wire. My first shot at Captain! I was on cloud nine.

Three of us made our way to Wichita, Kansas, to Flight Safety for a week long Sim and ground school in the Caravan. It was my first ground school and I couldn?t get enough. We all made it through without a hitch except for one guy who had never left Hawaii. He didn?t even own a winter coat. We walked out of the airport into the below 0 wind chill and he started yelling, "?What is this What is this?"? We all started laughing ..he had never felt anything that cold before.

Back in Maui, I got signed off and I was back on the line. Another aviation lesson: First few days as Captain, the stuff usually hits the fan. Whether it is just that you are not used to it, or Murphy?s Law, it seems to be the norm. I was no exception. Tropical downpours all over the islands. A bunch of GPS approaches down to mins in narrow valleys, lightning and having to cancel a flight on account of weather stranding us in the middle of nowhere on the big island was my welcome back. We rode it out at the gate agents house and flew home in a few hours. What a first day! I got home, soaked and tired but I will never forget that feeling. Captain for the first time. That accompanied with ?what did I just get myself into?? It was amazing though.

I had incredible flights in Hawaii and built up experience that I still use today but the people is what sticks with me the most. More importantly a group of people on Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. They are the last remaining group of a colony of people with Hansen?s disease. Formerly known as Leprosy. They all undergo regular treatment so are not contagious but have chosen to live out the rest of their life on a beautiful settlement at the base of 3000 ft cliffs. We would fly them back and forth to Honolulu or fly medical personnel or supplies into the colony. I was at first a little uneasy about the whole thing but when I started to get to know them all that faded away.

These people have been ravaged by the disease. Many are missing hands, feet, eyes, it is a terrible condition. But judging by their behavior it is nothing. The people in Kalaupapa were some the warmest, kindest and happiest people I have ever met. Here they are barely able to walk sometimes but always had time for a joke or a smile. Nothing would phase them and I still think back to those days and find inspiration from them. The best example was one of the older women in the worst shape barely could get on and off the plane, she could hardly see .we landed and pulled up to the gate. Before I knew it she was out the door and as I looked around she waved goodbye as she peeled out in her 1960s Ford Pickup. Puts getting cut off in traffic or the wrong latte at Starbucks right in perspective. My problems were nothing compared to them and I often think of them and smile.

They are truly an inspiration.
 
Written by Jon Reed   
Moving On

It was June 2004. I was quickly approaching the 1000 hour mark, and with flight instructing and traffic watch I was racking up around 8 hours a day. My target had always been to fly for SkyWest but at the time the hiring was slow going. My friend who had gotten an interview (Jeff Peterson) had 135 experience and judging from the trends this is where I need to set my sights to get to the 121 world.

I had a plan. I continued my quest for SkyWest by sending cards every 6 months or so to Camielle Ence, a pilot recruiter for SkyWest who I contacted by email when I first started flight training. She agreed to let me sit in at a open house in March 2002 and ever since that time I would send cards letting her know how I was doing on my goal of flying for SkyWest. I knew I had to get more experience. But where to start?

I started by sending as many emails to as many 135 operators as I could find. Alaska, Hawaii, anywhere that 1000 hours could get you in the door. Pretty slim pickings but I kept at it. I asked everyone I ran into for help or advice. I came to the conclusion that I had to get some face time if I wanted to break into the next level and Alaska seemed like the best bet. I talked to a Captain who flew for Pen Air in Anchorage and I was sold.

I booked a cheap ticket and with a nice shirt, pair of slacks and a stack of resumes I made my way north. It was wild country. Moose, bear attacks in the news, untouched wilderness. It was some of the most beautiful country I had ever seen.

I made my way around ANC airport and dropped off my resume to everyone I could. I managed to meet up with the Chief Pilot for Pen Air because of the contact I had made through a friend. They all told me they would call if something came open.

I made my way home to Portland, feeling better that at least I was being proactive about my career. The next week I got a call from a 135 cargo outfit flying 206s in the bush. Two weeks on, two weeks off, flying in and out of places I had never heard of. They promised to call back in a few weeks to set up ground school. It was amazing. Here was my shot.

Well I got a call two weeks later and the plane that I had been slated to fly had gone down. Luckily the pilot was fine but it was a sobering moment. Everyone knows Alaska flying can be sketchy, but here I was getting ready to go into it. This was for keeps. They promised to call back at the next vacancy.

I continued my email barrage and eventually it paid off again. In September I got an email from a 135 passenger airline in Maui, HI, flying caravans and they need a SIC. Could I make it there for an interview? I booked another cheap ticket and I was off. I got asked the usual HR, tech questions and then they had me fly a caravan mock up simulator. I made it through and got offered the job! I had lived in Maui during college and the prospect of being back there flying was beyond what I had dreamed. 135 turbine, be it single engine, but a real airline carrying people! I was sold.

I put in my notice, started packing and suddenly the phone rang. Alaska area code. A different airline had a last minute drop out in ground school and a spot on a Metro was mine to lose. It was a tough call: Alaska or Hawaii? Multi or Single? How did I get this lucky? This was another big lesson for me. You never know when your networking efforts will pay off, and aviation is crazy up and down industry.

In the end I chose Hawaii.

Come on, what did you think I would do? In all seriousness it was a tough call. I wanted to experience the last great frontier but in the end, surfing, bikinis and a family worried sick won out.

I have never regretted the decision.
 
Written by Jon Reed   
Moving On

It was June 2004. I was quickly approaching the 1000 hour mark, and with flight instructing and traffic watch I was racking up around 8 hours a day. My target had always been to fly for SkyWest but at the time the hiring was slow going. My friend who had gotten an interview (Jeff Peterson) had 135 experience and judging from the trends this is where I need to set my sights to get to the 121 world.

I had a plan. I continued my quest for SkyWest by sending cards every 6 months or so to Camielle Ence, a pilot recruiter for SkyWest who I contacted by email when I first started flight training. She agreed to let me sit in at a open house in March 2002 and ever since that time I would send cards letting her know how I was doing on my goal of flying for SkyWest. I knew I had to get more experience. But where to start?

I started by sending as many emails to as many 135 operators as I could find. Alaska, Hawaii, anywhere that 1000 hours could get you in the door. Pretty slim pickings but I kept at it. I asked everyone I ran into for help or advice. I came to the conclusion that I had to get some face time if I wanted to break into the next level and Alaska seemed like the best bet. I talked to a Captain who flew for Pen Air in Anchorage and I was sold.

I booked a cheap ticket and with a nice shirt, pair of slacks and a stack of resumes I made my way north. It was wild country. Moose, bear attacks in the news, untouched wilderness. It was some of the most beautiful country I had ever seen.

I made my way around ANC airport and dropped off my resume to everyone I could. I managed to meet up with the Chief Pilot for Pen Air because of the contact I had made through a friend. They all told me they would call if something came open.

I made my way home to Portland, feeling better that at least I was being proactive about my career. The next week I got a call from a 135 cargo outfit flying 206s in the bush. Two weeks on, two weeks off, flying in and out of places I had never heard of. They promised to call back in a few weeks to set up ground school. It was amazing. Here was my shot.

Well I got a call two weeks later and the plane that I had been slated to fly had gone down. Luckily the pilot was fine but it was a sobering moment. Everyone knows Alaska flying can be sketchy, but here I was getting ready to go into it. This was for keeps. They promised to call back at the next vacancy.

I continued my email barrage and eventually it paid off again. In September I got an email from a 135 passenger airline in Maui, HI, flying caravans and they need a SIC. Could I make it there for an interview? I booked another cheap ticket and I was off. I got asked the usual HR, tech questions and then they had me fly a caravan mock up simulator. I made it through and got offered the job! I had lived in Maui during college and the prospect of being back there flying was beyond what I had dreamed. 135 turbine, be it single engine, but a real airline carrying people! I was sold.

I put in my notice, started packing and suddenly the phone rang. Alaska area code. A different airline had a last minute drop out in ground school and a spot on a Metro was mine to lose. It was a tough call: Alaska or Hawaii? Multi or Single? How did I get this lucky? This was another big lesson for me. You never know when your networking efforts will pay off, and aviation is crazy up and down industry.

In the end I chose Hawaii.

Come on, what did you think I would do? In all seriousness it was a tough call. I wanted to experience the last great frontier but in the end, surfing, bikinis and a family worried sick won out.

I have never regretted the decision.
 
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