Flying the Line: A Q&A with Our Regional Chief Pilot

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Captain Wadach on a non-revenue Part 91 flight.

Which regional airline is best for you? Pilots who join our airline family know that they’re in good hands, and that their careers are on the rise.

Trans States offers one of the fastest Captain upgrades as fast as eight months and the highest signing bonus in the industry, up to $60,000.

Curious about what life on the line is like at Trans States? Read our Q&A with Regional Chief Pilot, Luke Wadach!

What sets Trans States apart from other regional air carriers?

Trans States Airlines is unique because it is a smaller regional airline with unique opportunities to share with our pilot group that aren’t available elsewhere. For example, we are always encouraging our own pilots to become Ground and Simulator Instructors, Line Check Airman and to consider joining the management team in our training and Flight Ops departments. Those opportunities are assets to enhancing careers towards the majors.

What can Trans States pilots expect when they start flying the line?

Trans States pilots can expect to fly with great crew members and travel to some pretty neat destinations. Some of our destinations include Cody, WY, where they can visit Yellowstone National Park; Flagstaff, AZ to see the Grand Canyon and Monterey, CA, which is a nice coastal city.

Line pilots can also expect to face some everyday challenges such as weather and traffic congestion on and around major airports. Our pilots do a phenomenal job managing these situations while maintaining a high level of customer service. We have a great pilot group and they really enjoy working with one another.

Do applicants normally receive their top base choice? Tell us more about base assignments.

Currently, we are assigning all domiciles in training. DEN is our most junior base, followed by ORD, and then STL. Applicants who want Denver and Chicago are being awarded their top choice immediately in training. Applicants who want STL will receive their choice towards the end of training or within 1 or 2 months after being released to the line.

What are the benefits of having Denver as a base?

Many of our new-hire pilots desire and are being awarded a Denver base. The benefit of this is that time on reserve is very minimal, along with providing an easy commuting option for pilots who live in the western half of the US. With Denver being our largest base, it has opened up our route structure so we now have destinations like Monterey, CA and Medford, OR on the West Coast.  With the Preferential Bidding System (PBS), there are several parameters used to allow crews to build customized schedules and take advantage of the diverse flying Denver has to offer.

How does the Captain upgrade process work at Trans States Airlines?

The Captain upgrade process is roughly a 6-week process. The upgrade footprint consists of seven days of ground school, two sessions in our Graphical Flight Simulator (GFS), an oral exam, seven simulator sessions, a checkride and then one session of Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT). Once that is complete, 25 hours of Initial Operating Experience (IOE) is completed with one of our Line Check Airman. We hold upgrade classes once per month and currently, there is no waiting time for upgrade. Candidates who are qualified (14 CFR 121.436) are awarded the next month’s upgrade class.

What do you love the most about working with Trans States?

The best part about working at Trans States is the people who I have the pleasure to work with. Whether working alongside co-workers at our headquarters in St. Louis or flying a trip out on the line, hands down we have the best group of aviation professionals. We have a very tight knit pilot group, unlike what you might find at some of the larger airlines.

Do you have more questions? Visit to ask a line pilot any questions you have about flying with Trans States! Click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your questions.

From Trans States Flight Attendant to Aviator: Jennifer Billock’s Story

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Jennifer Billock transitioned from her role as a Trans States Flight Attendant to Aviators Intern.

After working a few years as a family therapist, Jennifer Billock realized her true passion was in travel. This new aspiration inspired her to pursue a career as a flight attendant. As she started flying the line as a flight attendant and became more acquainted with aviation, she learned that becoming a pilot was her true calling. Jennifer is currently a Certified Flight Instructor and part of Trans States’ Aviators program, which provides participants with a clear and defined pathway to the Trans States flight deck upon completion of ATP minimums. Learn more about Jennifer’s journey below:

What sparked your desire to fly?

I’ve always loved to travel. My love for travel led me to volunteer with the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan after receiving my undergraduate degree. I ended up going back to school for a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. From there I began working as an in-home family therapist. My career in mental health didn’t allow me the time or means to travel as much as I wanted to, so I made the choice to apply for a flight attendant position.

Tell us about your Flight Attendant experience. Why’d you choose Trans States?

I chose Trans States because I could pick my base location before I started working. I knew I would not be a career flight attendant, but that I wanted to use the time to discover new cities and find my passion.  I found it very quickly.

How has the transition from Flight Attendant to Aviator been for you?

During flight attendant training I found myself wandering into the cabin trainer cockpit and asking the new-hire pilots questions.

Flying the line made me fall in love with the lifestyle and the fast pace of the avition industry. I quickly downloaded the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and asked my crews question after question. Captain Larkin taught me how to use dual VORs to find my location on an aeronautical chart. Another pilot taught me about roll, yaw, pitch and the list goes on and on. I quickly started flight training on my days off.

Eventually, pilots began showing me the release and by the end of my time at Trans States, I was doing the debrief. I learned so much from my fellow crew member family.

What are your career goals?

My goal is to eventually fly the Boeing 787 with United. For now, I will just work on building my flight hours and flying the Embraer-145 aircraft with that amazing Waterski call sign.

Why did you choose Trans States Airlines to jump start your pilot career?

I realized this passion was not going away and that I needed to pursue it full-time. I left Trans States as a flight attendant mid-April 2017 with literal tears in my eyes knowing that I was starting a full-time aviation training journey just to get back to Trans States as quickly as possible. I am still close to the family I created for myself at Trans States to this day. I am now a flight instructor, teaching others how to do what I could only watch my flight crews do only a short time ago. I was very happy to join the Aviator program.

What would you tell other flight attendants who are looking to transition into flight operations positions?

I would absolutely encourage other flight attendants to use their resources and use overnights with their crews to be curious. They are in the absolute best place to learn about the aviation industry. I’d also encourage them to study. Most pilots out there are still current CFIs and appreciate remembering the material they used to teach.

For more information about the Aviators Program, click here:


Aspiring Aircraft Mechanics Jump-Start Their Career Through Trans States’ Apprentice Program

Trans States operates on behalf of United Airlines.

Top-tier pay, growth, and advancement opportunities are only a few of the perks offered to participants in Trans States Airlines’ Apprentice Program. Aspiring Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) receive paid on-the-job training in this one-of-a-kind program, as they work towards receiving their A&P license. Apprentices will be awarded a $2.00/hr. raise when they progress to the field and an additional $1/hr. increase after one year with Trans States. Plus, AMTs receive up to $3,000 in annual retention bonuses after obtaining their licenses.

One of the biggest advantages that participants most enjoy is being assigned a mentor, who is a current Trans States mechanic, to guide them throughout the process of becoming licensed. During training, students are given a Sonic Tools set that is valued at around $4,500. Upon the completion of their training, graduates have the opportunity to purchase tools at a discounted rate.

Current Trans States Apprentice Roney Bunyan always had an affinity for transportation, but didn’t want to become an automobile mechanic. Instead, he chose to work on a mode of transportation much bigger than cars—airplanes.

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Roney Bunyan is currently in training to become a Trans States A&P Mechanic.

“When I found Trans States’ Apprentice Program, I discovered that this was the only regional airline with a program directly helping individuals to become airline mechanics,” Roney said. “I see the Apprentice Program as a golden ticket, because I’m receiving paid hands-on training while I pursue my passion for aviation.”

During the initial seven-weeks of classroom training, students will learn the fundamentals of physics, aerodynamics, and the theory of flight.  As the weeks progress, students will learn advanced aircraft systems, read engineering drawings and electrical schematics. Thereafter, students will enter the intensive on-the-job training program for 18-to-24 months. In the program, students are given tasks based on the knowledge they received in classroom training and increase their knowledge of maintaining the Embraer-145 aircraft.

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Apprentices work alongside A & P mechanics.

“The Trans States’ Apprentice Program helps students to gain a degree of mechanical aptitude and will help them to further develop skills to keep our aircraft safe and efficient,” Nicholas Bresnan, Trans States Maintenance Training Instructor said. “The license that they are working towards isn’t the end result of the program. The goal of the Apprentice Program is to help participants build a lasting career and become the greatest A&P mechanic that they can possibly be.”

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Colin Hickey is currently in Trans States’ Maintenance Apprentice Program.

After he left the United States Air Force, Colin Hickey decided to pursue a career as an airline mechanic because it was similar to some of the skills he acquired while in the service. He stumbled upon Trans States’ Apprentice Program while he was researching to find an airline that offered A&P training. When Colin saw that Trans States offered paid-on-the-job training through the Apprentice Program, he realized it was a match-made-in-heaven for his dream career.

“Trans States training is stellar because it’s interactive and hands-on rather than solely dependent upon books. It’s fun and extremely informative to learn how to look through a rivet, and how to properly operate a torque.” Colin said.

Obtaining an A&P license is the next step for Roney and Colin in their training. Both agreed that they’re ready to take the next step in their career.

“I’m elated to become licensed because I’m ready to launch my career and begin working on the Embraer-145,” Colin said. “There’s no limit to what else I can achieve once I receive my license.”

One of the most exciting factors about working as a Trans States A&P mechanic is that your work isn’t just limited to our passengers or our maintenance hangars. Your career with Trans States may allow you to meet incredible people and see places you’ve always wanted to travel to.

“My biggest suggestion for Maintenance Apprentices is to be open-minded to all of the opportunities that come your way, because you never know what can happen,” Director of Maintenance, Matthew Wright said. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the world to places like Switzerland, Japan, and Brazil because I didn’t limit myself. I took advantage of whatever came my way because doors will open if you’re always willing to lend a helping hand.”

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Sometimes  A&P mechanics are presented with the opportunity to work on Trans States’ charter flights, traveling to overnight destinations ensuring a seamless operation.

To be considered for the upcoming Apprentice Session on Friday, March 1, apply online and submit a resume to Click here for more details about the event: Learn more about the Apprentice Program, here:


Black Hawk Pilot Victor Soler Transitions to Civilian Pilot Career with Trans States

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Victor Soler served as a Black Hawk pilot in the Army Warrant Officer Program.

After serving ten-years in the Air Force as an enlisted Airman and flying as an H-60 Black Hawk pilot in the Army Warrant Officer Program, Victor Soler decided to become a civilian pilot. He’s more than excited to join the Trans States airline family. Read more below to learn what skills he brings from his military experience.

Why did you choose to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot?

I chose to pursue a career in commercial aviation because there are tremendous opportunities in civilian flying for military personnel. With the current pilot shortage, the need for pilots is unprecedented. With Trans States’ program, I have the chance to provide a great living for myself and my family, along with a more predictable schedule. I believe when opportunity knocks you should answer it.

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Victor is currently in training to become a Trans States First Officer.

Have you noticed any major differences or similarities in your military flying and civilian flying experiences?

The differences that I’ve encountered are very few, and mostly regulation-based. There are many similarities, however. Rotor and fixed-wing pilots essentially speak the same language.

My service in the military taught me a lot about flexibility, which is a great trait to have. I was put under many stressful and changing circumstances, and I know how to navigate through them and adapt to my surroundings. This isn’t the first time my wife and kids experienced me being away from home. They are resilient and understanding of the profession that I have chosen.  The biggest difference that I’m most looking forward to is the predictability that a civilian airline schedule will give my family.  Having a schedule a month ahead of time is something we haven’t had the pleasure of for more than 20 years.

What do you like about your rotor transition training with Trans States?

I love that  you can attend the flight school of your choice to receive your ratings.  The flexibility of the program provides me with the opportunity to not only complete the required training, but to also do it while I’m still on active duty.

What advice would you give to military pilots interested in transitioning into a commercial airline career?

I would advise anyone who chooses to pursue a civilian pilot career to take advantage of the opportunity. There are no downsides to launching a new career path. It’s always best to contact individuals who work in your desired career, because they’re willing to teach you and show you the ropes. Everyone that I’ve met has had a willingness to help me and teach me the tools I need to become successful.

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Victor and his fellow military service peers.

Learn more about our Rotor Transition Program and apply here: