Trans States Partners with Women in Aviation to Promote Aviation as a Career Path

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Did you know that only 5% of all pilots are women, and less than 2% of aircraft mechanics are women?  Women In Aviation International (WAI) aims to change that.  WAI is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in aviation career fields.  One of the organization’s top priorities is encouraging young women to consider aviation as a career.

Traditionally a male-dominated field, aviation is a career path that women often don’t consider unless they’ve been previously exposed to it, such as having a parent who is a pilot.  Since so few girls are exposed to aviation as a potential career opportunity, they usually have a different career path in mind by the time they reach their late teens.  “Aviation tends to be family-oriented,” explains Laura O’Brien, President of the St. Louis Chapter of WAI.  “The culture is usually something that you’re brought into in some way.  Very few people stumble onto it themselves, and we want to help change that.”

One of the ways that WAI aims to narrow the gender gap in aviation is by exposing girls to career opportunities in the field at a young age.  WAI’s annual Girls In Aviation Day provides girls ages 11-16 opportunities to learn about aviation-related careers through hands-on activities and demonstrations from aviation professionals.  Over 74 WAI chapters around the world hosted local Girls in Aviation events this year, drawing over 9,700 attendees.

At this year’s event in St. Louis, over 100 local girls learned about aviation career opportunities with over 20 organizations, including Boeing, the Air Force, and Trans States.  One of the event’s most inspiring guests was 13-year-old student pilot, Olivia Fabisoff.

Private aircraft company JetLinx graciously allowed their ramp to be used for static aircraft displays, allowing the participants the opportunity to see private jets and Medevac helicopters up close.

JTrans States hosted a luncheon for participants at our corporate headquarters in St. Louis, where pilots and flight attendants were on hand to talk about what their jobs are like and how they got to where they are today.

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Be sure to save the date for next year’s Girls in Aviation Day on October 13, 2018!  Click here to find out how you can get involved.

IT Systems Manager Recalls Playing for the Kansas City Royals

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You would expect a baseball player who made it to the big leagues to have grown up on the game, the star of their Little League and high school teams.  But that wasn’t the case with IT Systems Manager Eric Walls, who played for the Kansas City Royals from 1992-1996.

Eric didn’t even play baseball in high school, focusing instead on wrestling, cross country and track.  In fact, prior to college, his only experience with baseball was playing for the t-ball team that his dad coached when he was a kid.

While attending Greenville College, Eric’s roommate suggested that he try out for the baseball team, in spite of his lack of experience.  But Eric was fast, and what he lacked in experience he made up for with speed.  “As it turns out,” he recalls, “I made a perfect pinch hitter.  When I tried out, my 60 yard dash time was faster than average by several seconds.”

It wasn’t long until Eric was offered a full baseball scholarship to Kaskaskia College. While there, Eric received pre-draft camp invitations from the Chicago White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals. “The next thing I knew,” he recalls, “people started congratulating me on being drafted to play for Kansas City.”  It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and he took it, even though it meant delaying the completion of his education.

“It really wasn’t until I was playing for the majors that I truly fell in love with baseball,” Eric admits.  From 1992 to 1996, Eric was a pinch hitter and outfielder for the Royals and Royals-affiliated minor league teams, including the Rockford Royals.  During his best season, he hit .320, led the team in triples, and was one of the team’s top performers in doubles, overall hits, RBIs and stolen bases.

Eric hit his first home run towards the end of his first season with the Royals.  During a game against the Florida Marlins, Eric remembers hitting the ball as hard as he could before taking off to first base.  When he rounded second, thinking that he had hit a double, he noticed his entire dugout was cracking up. “That’s when I realized I had hit my first ever home run, and I just started celebrating and show-boating on my way back to home plate.”

When Eric’s manager reminded him that it was against etiquette to show up the pitcher, he admitted that he didn’t really care because he was so excited. “Then, at my next at bat,” he continues, “the pitcher threw at me.  As I took first base, I made sure to tip my helmet to him, letting him know I understood.”

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Trans States Airlines IT Systems Manager and former Kansas City Royals player Eric Walls.

Another memorable moment was the time that a pitch knocked him out cold.  “I was the second at-bat, and the first pitch was inside and out-of-the-way.” Eric thought he was ready for the second pitch, but it bounced off of his jaw and bruised his arm.  He was out for nearly seven minutes.  “When I came to,” he recalls, “I thought I had only been out for a few seconds. I was ready to take first base, but my teammates grabbed me and told me that I had to sit out.” It wasn’t until after Eric returned to the dugout that one of his teammates told him that he’d forgotten to mention that that particular pitcher was known for his aggressive pitches.

Eventually, Eric wanted to move forward with his personal and professional life, and left baseball to finish his academic career. “My agent and family may have been a little upset, but since I didn’t grow up on the game, I felt ready to move on.  To this day, I don’t have any hangups about walking away.”

Twenty years later, Eric is an IT professional with a family.  “My son is typical video game-loving teenager now,” he says, “but I made sure to start him off with baseball, and he played until he was 15.”  Eric also has a daughter who is a gymnast. “She is very competitive, and recently placed 15th in her national competition.”

After Less than Two Years at Trans States, Pilot Achieves Career Goal of Flying for American Airlines

 

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Captain Qualified First Officer Marlon Choyce

At Trans States, pilots are going to get the experience they need to move on to a major carrier.  Our training program is second to none, and we produce pilots that major airlines want to hire.  One of the most recent Trans States pilots to move on to the majors was Captain Qualified First Officer (CQFO) Marlon Choyce. Marlon’s ultimate career goal has always been to be an American Airlines pilot, and he achieved that goal after less than two years at Trans States.  Marlon credits the Trans States CQFO program with getting him the Pilot in Command time he needed to be hired by American.

The Pilot in Command, or PIC, is the crew member ultimately held responsible for the safety of a flight. The number of hours that a pilot acts in the role of Pilot in Command is called PIC time. The more PIC time that a pilot has, the better their chances of being offered a position with a major carrier.  Only a Captain can accumulate PIC time, which is why upgrade time is so important to First Officers.

First Officers facing long upgrade times often find themselves between a rock and a hard place.  As First Officers, they’re unable to accumulate the PIC time that they need to move on, but starting over with another airline with a shorter upgrade time means walking away from any accrued seniority.

Two years ago, Marlon found himself in just such a situation.  He’d been a First Officer with another regional airline for four years, and was looking at another two to three years before he could upgrade—even though he met the qualifications to fly as a Captain.  But with four years of accumulated seniority, he was understandably hesitant to start over with another airline.  However, when he heard about the Trans States CQFO program, he realized that starting over could be the right decision for his career.

The CQFO program allows pilots who meet Captain requirements to fly as either a Captain or a First Officer, depending on the airline’s scheduling needs.  As a Captain-qualified pilot, Marlon could start earning PIC time at Trans States immediately, which would bring him closer to his goal of flying for American.

Ultimately, Marlon made the decision to leave, and it paid off.  At Trans States, he earned PIC time during his very first trip out of training, and went on to earn a total of 135 PIC hours during just over 18 months.  “I earned no PIC time at my previous regional,” Marlon recalls. “At Trans States, I earned 135 hours in less than half the total time that I spent at my previous airline.”

While gaining PIC time was the deciding factor in Marlon’s career move, the decision to leave also made sense financially.  Even as a first year CQFO, Marlon earned more than he was earning with four years of seniority at his former employer (CQFOs earn $50.82 per flight hour when flying as a First Officer and $64.74 per flight hour when flying as a Captain).

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Flying as a Captain also provides leadership experience, which is important to mainline airlines.  “Mainlines are looking for pilots who are both qualified and equipped for leadership roles,” he explained.  “At Trans States, I was able to perfect my skills and hone knowledge twofold.  No matter where I was, I always had to be ready to fly in the left seat.”

To pilots who are preparing for mainline interviews, Marlon offers this piece of advice.  “I found that being organized and presenting yourself appropriately in customer service situations resonated with people.  As a result, I’ve learned first-hand that the major airlines look for signs of those good habits in their own pilot hire candidates.”

If you’re a pilot in the same situation that Marlon once found himself—Captain-qualified, but unable to upgrade, the Trans States CQFO program will get you the experience you need to advance your career.  Marlon is unequivocal in his endorsement of the program, and urges any pilot who finds themselves in such a situation to consider it.

“I would absolutely recommend the CQFO program to anyone.”

To learn more about the Trans States CQFO program, please click here.

Trans States Mechanic Helps Save a Life in Midair

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STL hangar mechanic Mike Russell

Prior to his career as a Trans States A & P mechanic, Mike Russell was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New York City for over two decades.  Mike’s job at Trans States comes with American Airlines travel benefits, which he recently used to fly to Kingston, Jamaica to visit family.  Little did he know that during the trip, he would need to put his EMT training to work to help save a life in midair.

During the first leg of his trip, a flight from St. Louis to Miami, a passenger began experiencing shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms of a potentially serious medical condition.  When a flight attendant asked if any of the passengers had medical training, Mike and a doctor on board jumped into action.  Mike assisted the doctor in caring for the passenger until the flight could divert to Atlanta and the passenger could receive medical attention on the ground.

American Airlines was very impressed with Mike’s selfless actions, and sent him the below note of appreciation, as well as a voucher for future travel.

Dear Mr. Russell:

Please accept our company’s formal “Thank You” for the assistance you provided aboard your recent flight. We are all grateful that you were on board and freely offered your medical expertise when it was needed most. Without a doubt, you greatly improved a difficult situation.

As an expression of our appreciation for volunteering your time and experience, we’ve made arrangements for an eVoucher for you to use toward the purchase of a ticket to travel with us. I realize your offer of assistance was not motivated by any potential reward. Nevertheless, we wanted you to know how much your efforts were appreciated.

Whether it’s in our hangar or in the air, Mike can always be counted on to put others first.  We’re proud that he’s part of our team.

State-of-the-Art Cabin Trainer Takes Trans States to the Forefront of Inflight Training

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The Inflight Management team celebrates the arrival of a new, state-of-the-art cabin trainer at our St. Louis corporate headquarters.

There’s a lot that a Trans States flight attendant has to learn before they’re released from training –  and it goes beyond providing exceptional customer service.  Flight attendants are there for our passengers’ safety, and the majority of their training centers around safety-related drills and exercises.  Our flight attendants spend weeks practicing everything from inflight medical emergencies and emergency equipment operation, to emergency evacuation procedures.

However, some of this training simply can’t be done in a classroom – it has to be done on an actual aircraft so that the practice situation will be as close as possible to what a flight attendant will face in real life.  “For example, flight attendants are responsible for evacuating passengers during an emergency situation,” explained Shonn Clark, Director of Inflight Services at Trans States.  “Before they are ever allowed to fly with passengers, our flight attendants have to demonstrate that they can execute an emergency evacuation on an actual Trans States Airlines Embraer 145 aircraft.”

Until recently, the only option our flight attendants had for getting critical hands-on training was waiting for one of our aircraft to become available at our maintenance hangar.  Since aircraft can only be used for training purposes after their scheduled flights are complete and after any scheduled maintenance has been performed, it was often the middle of the night before our flight attendants were able to start their drills. However, the recent installation of our new cabin trainer changed that.

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Practically and functionally, the cabin trainer looks and performs exactly like a static aircraft.  In fact, minus a few rows of seats, the interior perfectly mimics the interior of our Embraer 145 aircraft, which make it the ideal flight attendant training tool.  “The attention to detail is amazing,” Shonn remarked.  “It actually feels like you’re sitting in one of our aircraft.”

Cabin Trainer seats

The cabin trainer has the exact same emergency equipment as our actual aircraft, and has been certified by the FAA for use in medical, firefighting, and emergency evacuation drills.  It can even simulate smoke in the cabin, providing an unprecedented level of reality to training exercises.  The cabin trainer can also be used for non-emergency training, such as the practicing the beverage service and learning to use the PA system to communicate with passengers and the flight deck.

In addition to providing a top-notch training environment, the cabin trainer has also expedited the training process.  “Our overall training footprint has actually decreased, as the trainer is always at our disposal,” explained Shonn.  “In the past, there would be times when we were ready to start our drills, but had to wait for an aircraft to come available at the hangar.”

As one of just a few regional airlines with an on-site cabin trainer, Trans States is now at the forefront of inflight training.  “My team was excited when they first heard that we’d be getting a cabin trainer,” concludes Shonn, “and now that we have it, they couldn’t be happier.”

If you’d like to join our team of flight attendants, click here to learn more.