Trans States Mechanics Form Local Floor Hockey Team

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The type of hockey that most of us are familiar with has few non-negotiable requirements.  Ice, for one, and skates.  And knowing how to skate is usually pretty helpful.  However, a group of Trans States mechanics has discovered that you don’t have to know how to skate, or even own a pair of ice skates, to play hockey.  They play floor hockey as part of a local St. Louis floor hockey league.

While floor hockey players use sticks to get a puck into a net guarded by a goalie, that’s where the similarity to ice hockey ends.  There’s no ice in sight in floor hockey – teams typically play in gymnasiums – and floor hockey players simply wear shoes and run around, rather than using ice skates.

Heavy Check Supervisor Mark Hicks got the idea to start the team after seeing a video for St. Louis Floor Hockey on the internet.  Our maintenance hangar is in St. Louis, home of the Blues professional hockey team, and Mark knew that a lot of mechanics were interested in hockey, even if they’d never played before.  Mark first pitched the idea of a team to Line Lead Mechanic Levi Mcquery, who initially thought that he was too old for floor hockey.  However, once he watched the video, which explained that most of the teams were comprised of college students or co-workers, and that some of the players had never even played hockey before, he was sold.  Before long, Mark had rounded up a team of 10 mechanics, all from the St. Louis hangar.

Half of the team had never even touched a hockey stick before, let alone played on a team. “One mechanic had never played hockey before in his life,” says Mark, “and he still tried it out, and loved it.”  But even with so many hockey newbies, Line  Inspector Bill Reese is confident that their team is making progress, remarking, “I think we get better every game!”

“I would never bet on us, though,” chimes in Levi, laughing, “and I’m always making stupid bets on professional ice hockey, like having to shave ‘Red Wings’ in the back of my head.”

The league’s no checking rules means that floor hockey isn’t nearly as physical as ice hockey, which Mark points out is great for people who have day jobs.  “We can’t exactly get too physical at a night game when we all have work the next day.”

The team has already experienced some memorable plays. “I got us our first ever penalty,” laughs Bill, “and I still don’t agree with it.

Other mechanics from the hangar don’t play, but still come out to watch.  And if they want to try it for themselves before committing to a team, league rules make it easy for them to give it a shot and see how they like it  – anyone can play a single game as a substitute for only $10.

Feel up to the challenge?  Check out the St. Louis Floor Hockey website to get started.

Retiring Accounts Payable Supervisor Looks Back at her Years with Trans States

If a group of people was asked, “What jobs are most important to airline operations?”, the top three responses would probably include pilots, mechanics and flight attendants.  However, there’s a lot more to airline operations than what you see at the airport or on a flight.  Most people don’t realize that our planes wouldn’t fly without the efforts of another important department – Accounting.

Accounting pays the bills, for everything ranging from building utilities and aircraft parts, to fuel expenses and uniforms.  After 26 years on the job, retiring Accounts Payable Supervisor Terry Boswell knows the importance of ensuring that vendors are paid in a timely manner.  For example, if fuel invoices go unpaid, fuelers could refuse to service our aircraft, which could lead to a delay or even a cancellation.  Unpaid bills could delay shipments of important aircraft parts, which could lead to cancelled flights.

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Retiring Accounts Payable Supervisor Terry Boswell

“Without making sure that bills are paid on time, the process of keeping the airline running on time, let alone at all, could be hindered,” Terry explains.  “You can’t delay in making sure that you bring in needed aircraft parts or engine rents.”

Controller Bob Varwig agrees.  “To run an efficient airline, you have to ensure the quick flow of parts and services.  Terry understands that Accounts Payable has to maintain good relationships with our vendors to make that happen.”

Change is the only constant in the airline industry, and Terry has seen a lot of changes in her 25+ years with the company, including our transition from turbo prop aircraft to an all jet fleet in the 1990s, as well as a period of tremendous growth from 2014 t0 2016 that added 52 additional aircraft to our fleet.  With change comes new challenges for our accountants – new aircraft types mean new vendors, and an expanded fleet means more bills to pay – but Terry says that change is easy with the right team.

“I’ve had lots of fun with my coworkers, and we’ve shared many good times, even when tackling new challenges.  Adapting to something new can be stressful, but it’s much easier when you enjoy the company of those around you.”

Terry says that her 25 years at Trans States have flown by, remarking, “I have always enjoyed working here.  Time really goes fast when you’re in a good environment surrounded by great people.”

With retirement on the horizon, Terry is looking forward to traveling around the country and visiting all the National Parks with her husband.  We are grateful for her years of service, and wish her all the best!

Year in Review – Our Favorite Posts from 2016

We had a busy 2016!  We introduced you to some one-of-a-kind people and highlighted some extraordinary happenings within our company.  Let’s take a look back to some of our favorite posts from TRANSmissions this past year.

Preparing for Your First Part 121 Ground School – An Instructor’s Perspective

In what was far and away our most read and shared blog entry of the year, Trans States Airlines Flight Instruction Manager Paul Epperson shares his tips and advice for what to expect and how to prepare for the adjustment into 121 ground school.

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Trans States Provides Simulated Flight Experience for Children with Autism

Some of our Raleigh-based crew members had the opportunity to be a part of a very special event co-sponsored by American Airlines and the Autism Society of North Carolina.  The event simulated the airport experience for children with autism so that they would know what to expect the first time they boarded a commercial flight.  The children also had the opportunity to board a Trans States Embraer 145, and were shown exactly what would happen during the first 20 minutes of a real flight.

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Shriners Debut Aviation-Themed Parade Float, With Help of Trans States Employee

Trans States’ Sam Curless helped the St. Louis Shriners Air Patrol when they were in dire need of a new parade float. Through his connections, Sam was able to help organize a build of a new float, made out of an Embraer 145 fuselage. The float made its debut at the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade to an excited crowd, and a group of Shriners kids who got to ride it for the first time!

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Trans States VP of Safety Marks 70th Birthday by Flying 70th Aircraft Type

Trans States Airlines Vice President of Safety Craig Tompkins recently accomplished a pretty lofty goal that he’d set for himself in 2014 – to fly 70 different aircraft before his 70th birthday.  Craig reached his milestone right on time, flying aircraft type #70, a Cessna 170 on floats, just before his 70th birthday in October.

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Former Marine Turned Aircraft Mechanic and College Student: Meet Brandi Rector

Before becoming a aircraft mechanic for Trans States Airlines, Brandi Rector spent six years in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter aerial gunner and mechanic.  Now she dedicates her time to ensuring that our aircraft operate safely and efficiently, all while attending full-time classes at Saint Louis University.

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We’ll be back in 2017 with more posts dedicated to the extraordinary individuals who call Trans States home.  Happy New Year!

 

Trans States VP of Safety Marks 70th Birthday by Flying 70th Aircraft Type

Trans States Airlines Vice President of Safety Craig Tompkins recently accomplished a pretty lofty goal that he’d set for himself in 2014 – to fly 70 different aircraft before his 70th birthday.  Craig reached his milestone right on time, flying aircraft type #70, a Cessna 170 on floats, just before his 70th birthday in October.

Craig’s love of aviation started over 50 years ago, when he was still in high school and already a fixture at his local airport.  “I had my private pilot’s license,” he remarks, “but my parents wouldn’t let me get my driver’s license until I graduated high school. So I could fly planes, but I had to bum a ride from somebody else to get to the airport.”  After graduating from high school, Craig enlisted in the Army and became an air traffic controller, and later spent 15 years flying charters and air taxis, as well as flight instructing.

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Trans States Airlines Vice President of Safety Craig Tompkins, in the cockpit of a Cessna 170 seaplane

Craig’s commercial airline career began in 1977, when he was hired by Command Airways, one of the very first regional airlines.  Command Airways is historically significant because it was one of the first three American Connection carriers and was the first airline in the United States to fly the ATR 42. Before bringing the ATR to market, Command sent a group of pilots, including Craig, to Toulouse, France, to train at the actual ATR factory, making Craig one of the first pilots in the U.S. to fly the aircraft.

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Craig spent 11 years at Command, eventually becoming the Director of Flight Training and running its entire ATR operation.  In 1988, Resort Air (now Trans States Airlines) purchased the ATR portion of Command’s operation, and Craig has been with Trans States family of airlines ever since, holding positions including Director of Flight Ops, Director of Safety, and Vice President of Safety.

In 2013, Craig was a recipient of the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, which recognizes pilots “who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years.”  Prior to receiving the award, Craig had to figure out just how many different aircraft he had flown, and realized that he was 67 years old and had flown 67 different aircraft.  It was then that his goal of flying 70 different aircraft in 70 years was born.  “When I saw that, I just wanted to make the numbers match up – 70 in 70,” he explains.

Here are just a few of the planes that Craig has flown over the years:

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To most people, flying 70 different aircraft types before your 70th birthday would be a pretty big deal, but Craig is nonchalant about it, remarking, “My stepbrother has probably flown over 100 aircraft types at this point.”  Of all the planes he has flown, Craig’s favorites are the DC-3 and the Twin Otter.  Craig says that he doesn’t have any immediate plans to top his recent feat of 70 in 70 but there are several seaplanes that he’d like to fly, so he’s not ruling it out.  “My wife tells me that I should shoot for flying 80 planes by the time I’m 80, but maybe I’ll start with flying 75 aircraft by the time that I’m 75 years old.”

Anyone who knows Craig has no doubt that he’ll do both.

Employee Appreciation Week 2016

Fall doesn’t just bring cooler temperatures and changing leaves – at Trans States Airlines, fall also brings our annual Employee Appreciation Week celebration!  This week-long event, packed with food, games, and prizes, is our way of saying thank you to our employees for all of their hard work  This year’s festivities wrapped up last Friday, and everyone is still talking about all of the fun they had.

One of the best things about Employee Appreciation Week is the food!  Base Managers at all of our crew bases spent the week making sure that our crews were well fed.  Our Raleigh crew had a smorgasbord of sweets on Monday, followed by breakfast sandwiches, sandwich rolls, tacos and pizza.

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Taco Thursday at our Raleigh-Durham crew base

Brenton Daniels, the Denver Base Manager, took advantage of the nice weather to barbecue for employees right on the ramp!

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Brenton shows us an innovative new way to cook beans!

We also gave away a FitBit at each crew base!  Congratulations to Captain Jorge Velasquez, who won the FitBit given away in St. Louis!

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At the St. Louis headquarters on Tuesday, corporate leaders threw a “come as you are” breakfast (which was pajamas for many) for all employees, complete with a caricature booth and balloon artist.  The leadership team manned griddles and hotplates, and served up an impressive spread that included sausage, eggs, pancakes, and even a smoothie bar.

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Other events throughout the week included the very popular “Take Your Dog To Work Day,”

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a gourmet cupcake truck,

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and a friendly game of Family Feud that pitted Trans States employees against employees of our sister carrier, GoJet Airlines.

One of the biggest events of the week was the annual washers tournament.  This year was the tournament’s biggest year yet, with 35 teams participating.  Our Maintenance department has established a washers dynasty over the years, and many teams from other departments were eager to de-throne them. However, Maintenance remained dominant again this year, and we again had a Maintenance vs. Maintenance championship game!

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Maintenance was again dominant on Friday, winning the annual tug-of-war competition between Maintenance Hangar and the corporate office.

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Rick Leach congratulates the Maintenance team on beating the corporate in tug-of-war (again).

On Friday, employees also enjoyed a barbecue

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a mini-classic car show (we have some employees with really cool cars!).

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and an afternoon of “knockerball.”

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Employee Appreciation Week 2016 was definitely one to remember!  We’re already looking forward to next year!