Former Navy Pilot Launches his Post-Military Flying Career at Trans States

Trans States Airlines is a proud supporter of our men and women in uniform, and is committed to hiring military Veterans, like Marine Corps veteran and Trans States Maintenance Technician, Brandi Rector. Today we’re highlighting another Trans States military Veteran, First Officer Rick Brantley.

Rick is a retired Navy pilot who had always hoped for a commercial flying career after leaving the military.  However, when a Commanding Officer role took him out of the cockpit for the last few years of his career, he assumed that flying commercially was no longer feasible.  However, several years after he retired, he had a conversation with an FAA examiner, who convinced him that the commercial aviation industry would be receptive to a former military pilot who had spent some time away from the flight deck.

“I wasn’t sure, but he was right,” Rick said.  “Trans States was the first airline that I reached out to, and a pilot recruiter contacted me that same day.”

As Rick found out, airlines were very receptive to his background. He applied to a number of regional airlines, including Trans States, and every single one of them offered him an interview.

Keith Stamper, the Director of Flight Operations at Trans States, wasn’t surprised that airlines were so eager to interview Rick.  “When you hire a former military pilot, it’s almost guaranteed that he or she is going to have an outstanding work ethic and exceptional leadership skills,” he said.  “Plus, the high quality of their previous military training makes it relatively easy for them to transition back into flying.”

While Rick may have applied to a number of airlines, Trans States stood out to him from the very beginning.  In the below video, he talks about his experience transitioning from military to commercial flying, and how factors including company culture, crew base location and a competitive contract convinced him that Trans States was the best place for him to launch his new career.  Rick also speaks about the high value that the military places on mentorship, and how he saw that same commitment to helping others throughout the entire Trans States organization.

Even if you’ve been away from the cockpit for a few years, being a commercial pilot is still within reach.  Our recruiters will walk you through the process, start to finish. Click here to get started.

 

Crew Provides Five Star Service During Delay

When a flight is delayed, two things are key – communicating with your passengers, and keep them comfortable.  During a recent delay, Captain Jason Newell, First Officer Cecilia Ernst and Flight Attendant Ayana Spann did just that, providing constant updates from the cockpit and textbook-perfect service in the cabin.  Here’s what one of our passengers had to say about her experience:

Ayana Spann
Five-star Fight Attendant Ayana Spann, showing off her joy-spreading smile!

I just wanted to give a shout out to Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant Ayana Spann. Captain Jason Newell and First Officer Cecilia Ernst.  They were amazing!   

When we got on the plane, Captain Newell announced that we were going to be delayed due to a paperwork issue, but both he and First Officer Cecilia Ernst  did a wonderful job keeping everyone updated.  Ayana had the biggest smile, a very positive attitude, and did whatever she needed to do to keep the passengers happy. 

When Captain Newell came back over the PA, he announced that the pilots had received the paperwork, but we were 1,200 lbs over in fuel and that flight would be further delayed while the issue was resolved. Right away, here comes Ayana with water service and a smile, making sure that everyone was comfortable throughout the delay.  She was a rock star!  Ayana did a wonderful job and is truly an asset to Trans States Airlines.  The pilots also deserve kudos for their part in keeping everyone updated, staying positive, keeping us safe, and getting us home. 

The crew was excellent, and they all represented the airline in a very professional manner.  Keep up the good work!

Sincerely,

Jessica H.

Our crews are true professionals who are committed to providing outstanding customer service – even when things aren’t going as smoothly as we would like!

 

 

Unique Internship Provides Direct Path to Trans States Flight Deck

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If you’re an aspiring commercial pilot looking for a high-quality internship that will give you a jump start on your career, look no further than the Trans States Airlines Aviators program.  This program identifies promising pilots still in the early stages of flight training, and mentors them through the process of becoming a Trans States pilot.

Program participants are paired with a current Trans States Airlines line pilot, who provides professional guidance and advice to their mentees not only while they’re in flight training, but up until the point that they become Trans States Airlines First Officers.

“It’s so important for young pilots who want to fly commercially to have mentors who are commercial pilots,” said Keith Stamper, Director of Flight Operations.  “Our pilots have been in these students’ shoes before, and they know what it takes to make the jump from being a student pilot to being a commercial airline pilot.”

During their internship, students will also have a chance to visit corporate headquarters in St. Louis, where they will meet the Flight Ops management team, sit in on systems training classes, and get behind-the-scenes tours of Systems Operations Control and our Maintenance Hangar. Program participants also have the opportunity to participate in the Trans States Airlines Command Leadership course, which is typically only offered to Trans States Airlines Command Pilots.

Additional benefits of the Aviators program include $10,000 in tuition reimbursement, as well as limited pass travel  on United Airlines and American Airlines.  Aviators also act as field recruiters and can earn  $1,500 for each pilot that they refer to Trans States who is hired and completes training (funds are banked until a student becomes a Trans States Airlines employee).

Once students earn the requisite hours and officially become Trans States Airlines First Officers, they’ll receive their tuition reimbursement payment, in addition to any  referral bonuses banked during their time as an aviator.

“We’re excited to be able to provide such a dynamic, hands-on training program for future pilots,”said Trans States Airlines Chief Operating Officer, Fred Oxley.  “This program provides immersive,real-world experience that will provide value to students while in school and when they become line pilots.”
Fall enrollment for the 2016 Aviators Program is taking place now!  Click here to learn more and apply online.

 

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

Brandi Rector
Trans States Airlines Aircraft Mechanic 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.

Brandi didn’t originally plan on an airline job when leaving the military.  After her last deployment, Brandi returned home to St. Louis with plans to become a police officer. However, she soon found herself back in aviation after being hired by helicopter manufacturing company Sikorsky. “It was a desk job,” explains Brandi, “and after coming home from my deployment, sitting at a desk all day was making me stir crazy.  Then I learned about Saint Louis University’s helicopter pilot program.”

Saint Louis University, in partnership with Midwest Helicopter, offers a helicopter training program that can be paired with any undergraduate degree. Brandi began the program in the fall of 2015, and is set to graduate in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautics, with a focus in Aviation Management.  When she graduates, she will also be an FAA-certified helicopter pilot, with private, commercial, instructor and  instrument ratings.

While Brandi receives much of her academic funding through the G.I. Bill, it doesn’t cover everything.  Luckily, Brandi had earned her Airframe & PowerPlant license while in the military, which enabled her to  supplement her G.I. funding by becoming a Trans States Airlines aircraft mechanic. There’s no danger of Brandi going stir crazy from sitting behind a desk at this job – she’s up and moving throughout her entire shift. As a heavy check mechanic, Brandi performs scheduled inspections on aircraft once they reach a certain number of hours.  “We perform top-to-bottom aircraft checks and inspections on everything from oxygen masks and engine components, to flight control cables and hydraulic systems,” she explains.  “We check everything to make sure the aircraft continues to stay safe for flight.”

Brandi enjoys the variety that her job brings.  “In the Marines, I worked strictly on engines and gear boxes,” she said.  “But at Trans Sates, I get to work on everything.”  She went on to remark, “I’ve got to say, I really enjoy my job.  Everyone that I work with is incredibly nice, friendly, and helpful.”

Brandi is busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.  “It’s tough,” she says, “but it doesn’t matter if I don’t have much free time, because I love what I do. I feel rewarded knowing that all the work that I do provides safety for so many people who travel, and I feel accomplished when I make straight-A’s after studying so much and so hard.” Brandi also emphasizes the importance of having a strong support system.  “My dad provided a lot of encouragement that helped me when I needed it. So, no matter what you decide to do, make sure you have the support you need.”

When she’s not working or studying, Brandi has several animals that she enjoys taking care of. “I’m working on building a barn right now,” she explains, “which will be for my horse. I also have two huskies, and I recently rescued a kitten.”  She also became a member of Women With Wings, the St. Louis chapter of Women in Aviation, in April. “It’s a great group for networking,” she says,” and they’re starting to do a lot more charity events.  After I receive my instructor rating, I’ll hopefully be able to pilot some charity flights for them, as well as for the Whirly-Girls, an association of women helicopter pilots.”

We’re proud that Brandi has chosen to share her talents with us, and we couldn’t be more impressed by everything that she’s accomplished.  If you’ve got an A & P license and a desk job isn’t for you, give us a call.  We offer skilled maintenance professionals like Brandi top-tier pay, and we pay extra for experience.  We’d love to talk to you about everything our company has to offer.  Click  here to learn more.

Honoring Captain Tim Gerrels

Trans States Airlines has a long and storied history, all thanks to our great family of airline professionals. Captain Tim Gerrels recently completed his final flight before reaching his retirement, after flying with Trans States for over three decades! During that time, Captain Gerrels has racked up quite a few flight hours, along with impressive knowledge. In fact, Tim was the #1 pilot on the seniority list at Trans States Airlines for seventeen years.

Captain Tim Gerrels Trans States Airlines-7
Trans States Airlines Captain Tim Gerrels poses with his First Officer after his final flight.

According to Tim, he didn’t originally consider flying as a career. Tim received a degree in forestry from the University of Minnesota, through their Agricultural Aviation program. “There weren’t really any jobs available right after I got out of school,” he explains, “But, after I finished school, I continued flying.”

 

After completing school, Tim began flying in Greely, CO and then Tulsa, OK, then became an instructor in Minnesota. Afterwards, Tim became a Fixed Based Operator in Vernal, UT, where he did charter work with oil companies and the Bureau of Land Management. Later on, he taught at Saint Louis University’s Parks College, before eventually landing a job flying Cessna 402 aircraft out of Jefferson City, MO for a company called TRANS-MO Airlines.

In March of 1984, Tim was offered a position flying for Trans States Airlines, where he spent more than three decades. “I originally intended to stay only three to five years,” Tim elaborates, “but I was having too much fun flying to leave.” Tim began flying ATR aircraft in 1990, and the Embraer 145 in 2000. His favorite plane to fly was the Metroliner.

Tim’s favorite part of his job has always been flying into small towns, “I was never a big city boy. I don’t like flying into big cities. When I first started flying with Trans States, St. Louis was the biggest town that we would fly into, and that was just fine by me.” Tim has also seen a change in his St. Louis domicile, “St. Louis used to be a lot busier, and that’s no longer the case. We don’t have those two to three-hour delays that we used to have when Lambert Airport was a hub for Trans World Airlines.”

With experience comes wisdom, and Tim has some advice for the next generation of pilots. Tim emphasized the importance of a pilot doing his or her research before they go on their first check ride. “Always make sure that you do everything that you have to do, and get that down early. This way, you can make sure that you avoid any problems in the future.”

Tim says that landing his final flight with Trans States Airlines on June 10, 2016 was the best day of his life. “I don’t consider my best moments to be ‘proud’ moments,” Tim admits, “because I’m just not that kind of a guy. But I felt so appreciated when I came into the terminal, and there were people waiting to thank and congratulate me. I felt that I always got along with management, because it was always important to me to simply do my job, and make sure that it got done right. So, it was great to see that that made an impact.”

Captain Tim Gerrels Trans States Airlines-3
Captain Tim Gerrels’ final flight receiving a ceremonial water cannon salute.

Tim plans on spending his retirement continuing to work on his farm, and spending time with his family. He will also be doing some traveling, as well. “We’ll be going to Hawaii next February,” he added, “and, we will renting a guide service to do some lake trout fishing in Lake Superior.” Tim revealed that he’s looking forward to this fishing trip again, after enjoying it the first time.

But if you think that Tim will no longer be flying during his retirement, think again. Tim also said that he will continue flying in a small airplane, in order to help his friends monitor their crops. “Now, he best part is,” Tim continued, “I only have to fly on my terms. Which means, only when the weather is nice.” Tim admits that it has already been an adjustment not having to check the weather when he wakes up every morning. “Sometimes I catch myself doing it, but then I remember that if I don’t like the forecast, then I don’t have to fly.”

Trans States Airlines is so honored and thankful to have had Captain Tim Gerrels fly for us for the past thirty plus years! Thank you so much for all you’ve done, Captain Gerrels! Enjoy your retirement!

Flight Attendant Shows that a Little Bit of Kindness Goes a Long Way

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Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the biggest impact.  A simple gesture of kindness from a stranger can make a huge impression.  We received the below note from a passenger, who was blown away by the thoughtful actions of Trans States flight attendant Dwyght Lewis on a recent flight.

Dwyght Lewis, the flight attendant on our trip, gave me a HUGE smile when I entered the plane.  He immediately took my bag out of my hand and said that as soon as everyone sat down, he would bring the bag over and put it up for me, which he did. Before taking off, he then came by and told me that there were two open seats next to each other in the back of the plane, and that it might make my trip more comfortable to switch.  I took his kind offer and thankfully, we were very comfortable.  My son fell fast asleep as soon as we sat down.

Throughout the flight, despite having his regular duties, Dwyght came and checked in on me countless times to see if I was okay, comfortable and if I needed anything.  There was even a very rough patch of turbulence and he came by to check on us as soon as it stopped.  He reassure me that the flight was almost over and all was okay.  Prior to the flight ending, he told me that when we landed, to wait for everyone to get off, and he would come to the back and help me retrieve my bag and bring it to the front of the plane. Not only did he keep his word, but he took my bag, waited for my stroller and suitcase to come up from under the plane, and literally took it up for me.  He opened the stroller for me and told me that if I needed help even further, he’d be glad to help.  I told him I’d try to manage and thanked him.  My son was still asleep, and I was carefully trying to put him in the stroller, so it took a bit longer.

I then had to navigate down the terminal to catch an Uber. Right as I started walking away, he came up behind me and said,  “I have a son and I know how hard it is, let me help you.”  He proceeded to take my suitcase and bag along with his and brought me literally all the way outside to the curb where my Uber was waiting.  He then asked if I needed any other assistance.  Although he was heading out the same direction, he did not have to go out of his way to lend a hand.  He went above and beyond  in my opinion. He was friendly, courteous, thoughtful, and really phenomenal.

Tali V. 

We agree – Dwyght most certainly went above and beyond!  He’s been entered in our Above & Beyond contest, a quarterly contest that recognizes exemplary employees who go beyond the call of duty.  Thanks, Dwyght, for reminding us that it’s the little things that matter the most.

The Trans States Airlines Guide to Crew Bases

Trying to decide which airline you want to work for?  One of the most important factors to US News Best Placesconsider is crew base location.  The location of your crew base can drastically affect your quality of life, so you want to be sure that you have affordable options.  Cost of living is a key factor to consider, as is the availability of good public transportation and budget-friendly entertainment.

Luckily, with bases in Denver, Raleigh-Durham, Washington D.C., St. Louis, and Chicago, our employees have some great options.  In fact, all five of our crew bases were recently included in the 2016 US News and World Report “Best 100 Places to Live” rankings, with three of them making it to the top 10.  Here are a few of our favorite things about each of our domiciles:

Denver

Denver, CO
Denver, CO

Claiming the coveted top spot on the US News list is Denver, Colorado.  The Mile High City is perfect for any outdoorsy-type, but offers something for everyone.  Fitness and nature enthusiasts are within an hour of skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, and for more relaxed outings, Denver boasts over 5,000 acres of parks, trails, golf courses, and playgrounds. The city is also home to a flourishing arts scene and boasts approximately 100 breweries.

One of the best ways to explore Denver is by bike. The bike-sharing company, B-Cycle, provides 700 bikes for the city’s more than 85 miles of paved pathways.  The above-ground tramway, RTD light rail, is also a convenient and economical way to get around.

Raleigh-Durham

Raleigh-Durham, NC
Raleigh-Durham, NC

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina also ranks high on the US News list, coming in at number four.  Raleigh’s diverse population enjoys mild average seasonal temperatures, low property taxes, and a cost-of-living slightly lower than the national average.

North Carolina is paradise for sports fans, with professional football, basketball, and hockey teams, as well as a huge NASCAR presence. Additionally, North Carolina is home to the famed Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels collegiate programs.

With over two hundred parks, a children’s museum, and over one hundred and fifty miles of greenway, Raleigh provides plenty to do outside.  And getting around is a breeze, especially in the downtown area, where most people prefer to walk. There are plenty of commuter options however, including the R-Line bus system and an expanding system of both commuter rail and bike-friendly infrastructure.

Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.

Making it to the number eight spot on the US News list is our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Young, fun and vibrant are just a few of the words used to describe this historically and politically significant city.  From a plethora of cultural attractions to a vibrant nightlife, D.C. has it all.

Museums and theaters abound, and the city is home of a seeming endless number of restaurants, nightclubs and concert venues. Sports fans will feel right at home in D.C., as the region is home to professional football, basketball, baseball and hockey teams.

D.C. traffic is notorious, but public transportation is available for those who prefer not to drive, thanks to trains and buses provided by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.  For those who want to combine exercise and sightseeing, the best way to see the city is by bike.  Be sure to check out Capital Bike Share, which rents out bikes in the metro area for periods ranging from a day to a year.

St. Louis

St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO

Affordable entertainment options combined with a cost of living that’s well below the national average, make St. Louis a fun and economical domicile.

St. Louis is a sports town, and the region’s 2.8 million residents are rabid supporters of the city’s two professional sports teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues. St. Louis offers plenty to keep live music and theater fans busy, including the renowned Fox Theatre and Peabody Opera House.  Plus, the city’s world-class zoo, science center and art museum all offer free admission.

Although St. Louis is primarily a driving town, there are other affordable commuter options, including bus and light rail systems offered by Metro Transit, as well as increasing options for bicyclists.

Chicago

Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL

Chicago is home to an abundance of well-known attractions and events. Fans of sports and music will find plenty to do, especially during the warmer months.  Aviation enthusiasts won’t want to miss the annual Air and Water Show held on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Chicago also offers a smorgasbord of restaurants and food options, including not to be missed Chicago-style pizza.  Getting around is a breeze in Chicago, thanks to a multitude of public transportation options. The Chicago Transit Authority’s “L” trains and buses, the Metra rail system, taxis, Uber, and even bicycle rental company Divvy make sure that commuters don’t have to walk or sit in traffic if they don’t want to.

Did we neglect to include one of your favorite attractions?  Let us know in the comments!

Glowing Compliments for Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant Sheryl Smith

We often receive compliments from passengers regarding our professional and courteous crews. Lately, one flight attendant in particular has been impressing passengers left and right.  Here are two recent notes we’ve received from passengers regarding flight attendant Sheryl Smith’s stellar service.

Superstar Trans States/United Flight Attendant Sheryl D. Smith.
Sheryl Smith, Superstar Flight Attendant 

This past week, my husband and I traveled to Hawaii.  Today, on the final leg from Chicago to Cedar Rapids, we met Sheryl. What a bright light she is! Sheryl welcomed us on board with the friendliest attitude. She appeared to enjoy interacting with the passengers, and she even addressed us by name! I am taking time to write this because this lady and her representation of your company stood out like a beacon to us. If only her genuine enthusiasm could be bottled and shared!

Sheryl is clearly making a positive impact on the people that she serves.  Here’s what another passenger had to say:

Sheryl D. Smith was a great hostess! She was friendly, outgoing, and took great care of us. Thanks for the great experience, Sheryl!

At Trans States, we pledge to give our passengers the best possible experience on each and every flight.  Sheryl is just one of the hundreds of Trans States employees who go the extra mile every day to provide safe and professional service to the people we serve.

Trans States Airlines Formally Signs off on New Flight Attendant Contract

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COO Fred Oxley finalizing the Flight Attendant contract with representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

It’s official!  Yesterday COO Fred Oxley and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters signed off on a new contract for our flight attendants.  The new contract, which was ratified in April by 69% of voting flight attendants, provides a number of enhancements, including improvements to pay and sick leave.  This contract also begins a commuter policy, which makes it easier for flight attendants who live outside of their domicile to commute to work.

An additional improvement gives flight attendants the ability to pick up extra hours at any of our crew bases.  Until now, when flight attendants wanted to pick up extra flying, they were limited to trips based out of their domicile.  However, now a St. Louis-based flight attendant can now pick up trip out of Denver or any of our other crew bases.  “The ability to pick up open time at any domicile was a big request from our flight attendants during the contract negotiation process,” said Shonn Clark, Director of Inflight at Trans States. “There were a lot of happy flight attendants when the new policy was announced.”

COO Fred Oxley says that the new contract is representative of the company’s deep-rooted commitment to  employee satisfaction, remarking,  “We work hard to make Trans States the kind of place where people want to build long-term careers.  It’s our hope that this contract will encourage our flight attendants to do just that.”

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a flight attendant, now is a great time to join our company.  We are currently hiring for open positions in St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C., Denver and Raleigh-Durham.  To learn more the benefits of becoming a Trans States flight attendants, or to apply online, please click here.

Growing Number of Employee Referrals Underscore Pilot Opportunities at Trans States

At Trans States Airlines, we love employee referrals. No one can better speak to the Trans States experience than those who have experienced it first-hand—our employees. Employee referrals tell us that we’re doing something right and that our employees are happy. And employee referrals are exactly what brought new hire pilots Casie Schaffer, Brooke Willis, and Monique Gagnon to Trans States.

Trans States Airlines' newest pilots, all hired by employee referrals (from L to R): Brooke Willis, Monique Gagnon, Casie Schaffer.
Trans States Airlines’ newest pilots, all hired by employee referrals (from L to R): Brooke Willis, Monique Gagnon, Casie Schaffer.

“Trans States was highly recommended to me by my friends, who were Trans States pilots,” says Casie, a recent flight instructor making the transition to commercial aviation. “Plus, Trans States recruiters were continuously visible on campus when I was in college, so it’s always been on my radar.” After flight instructing, which is typically done individually, Casie says that she’s looking forward to being part of a flight crew, remarking, “Being part of a team effort is important to me.” When asked for her first impressions of Trans States, Casie enthused, “I love the efficiency of the training department—and I especially enjoy my instructor’s enthusiastic teaching style!”

Monique, another recent flight instructor, also arrived at Trans States by way of a recommendation. “Some friends recommended Trans States to me, and I trusted their judgment. During my first interview, I was immediately impressed by the recruiter’s sincerity and helpfulness. I knew right away that applying with Trans States had been the right decision.”

In addition to the high pay and fast Captain upgrades that Trans States offers, Monique says that an additional factor that brought her to Trans States is the opportunity to be one of the first pilots in the world to fly the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). Trans States is the domestic launch customer for the MRJ and expects to begin taking deliveries of the highly anticipated new aircraft in the second quarter of 2018. “Being one of the first to fly a new aircraft type is any pilot’s dream,” she said. “I feel like I got here at just the right time.”

“I didn’t even bother looking at any airlines other than Trans States,” says new hire Brooke, who has flown for two 121 carriers, as well as a 135 operator. After a number of years as a pilot, Brooke took a break from the flight deck to start a family and pursue an advanced degree. Later, when she was looking to return to flying, friends recommended Trans States. “I really missed the camaraderie among crew members, and even interactions with passengers,” Brooke said. “I’m excited to be back!”

The airline isn’t the only one benefiting from these awesome referrals—Trans States makes sure that employees who submit quality nominations are well compensated. Employees can earn $1,500 for each pilot candidate they recommend that is hired and completes training. Additionally, there’s no limit to the number of recommendations that someone can submit, which means that employees who know a lot of pilots have the opportunity to earn a lot of extra money!

Welcome to the family, Casie, Monique, and Brooke! And a big thanks to the employees who brought you here!

To learn more about our incredible pilot career opportunities, please click here.

Trans States Airlines at the Special Olympics North Carolina 2016 Plane Pull

The 2016 Plane Pull benefiting the Special Olympics of North Carolina (SONC) is a wrap, and we’re proud to have been a part of it!  On April 30, over 70 five-person teams competed against each another to physically pull one of our Embraer 145s!  As you can imagine, that’s no small feat, but these teams pulled it off – and raised over $110,00 for SONC in the process!

This year marked the 16th year for the annual Plane Pull competition, which began as a unique and fun way to raise money for Special Olympics. “Numerous Special Olympics states host a Plane Pull,” says Special Olympics North Carolina President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne, “but originally it started with 20-person teams and huge jets. In North Carolina, the format changed to 5-person teams and regional jets, since it allowed for more teams to enter be a part of this important and fun event.”

The 2016 SONC Plane Pull winners, The Bertie Enforcers, pulling a Trans States Airlines Embraer 145!
The 2016 SONC Plane Pull winners, The Bertie Enforcers, pulling a Trans States Airlines Embraer 145!

To participate, each team must raise at least $800, with the proceeds going towards providing training and Special Olympics competition opportunities for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Thanks to generous donations from sponsors, athletes are never charged a fee to participate in any of these year-round training and competition offered by Special Olympics.

In addition to the annual festivities, the 2016 SONC Plane Pull also incorporated several new features. The event began with “opening ceremonies,” where members of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle club rode in carrying the Special Olympics Flame Of Hope, as well as the United States and North Carolina flags. “Four SONC athletes also got the honor of riding on the motorcycles with the law enforcement officers,” further explains Keith L. Fishburne. “Then, an athlete delivered a short invocation, another athlete gave a short speech sharing Special Olympics’ impact on their life, and another athlete declare the Plane Pull underway.” From there, the teams hit the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and got “pulling!”

The competition is a race to see who can pull the airplane 25 feet in the least amount of time. All teams competed in the first round, with the top 20 advancing on to the second round. The Final Round consists of the “Fast 5” from Round 2 competing to determine the Overall Champions.  This year, the Bertie Enforcers of the Bertie County Correctional Institution upset the two-time defending champions, The Smokey Bears of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, with a final pull of 7.85 seconds.

One of the participants of the 2016 SONC Plane Pull in front of the Embraer 145, provided by Trans States Airlines.
One of the participants of the 2016 SONC Plane Pull in front of the Embraer 145, provided by Trans States Airlines.

Raleigh-Durham Chief Pilot Jonathan Jones expressed his gratitude in being a part of such a tremendous event, saying, “The Special Olympics is an amazing organization that affects the lives of so many people throughout North Carolina and the rest of the world.  We are a part of the community here and appreciate the opportunity to be involved with The Special Olympics and help over 38,000 North Carolina athletes. What a great way to spend the day, pulling planes and making a difference.”

We’re so proud to have been a part of helping a wonderful event benefiting such a wonderful organization.  We can’t wait for the 2017 SONC Plane Pull!

American Airlines Ground Crews get the Job Done

AA ground crew

A big shout-out to the American Airlines ground crew in St. Louis for the professional and efficient service they provide!  They’ve developed a reputation among our St. Louis-based flight crews for quickly loading checked bags and for providing quick and accurate baggage counts prior to departure.  The efforts of this important team are essential to our mission of achieving a safe and on-time departure for each and every flight.  Thank you for all that you do!

A “Shocking” Optical Illusion…

Lightning

Airline employees are generally not fans of severe weather, given the inevitable operational consequences. But even airline employees can appreciate the incredible photo ops that severe weather can bring!  Materials Clerk Sierra McCoy snapped this photo at our maintenance hangar during a thunderstorm that rolled through St. Louis Tuesday. It may look like the lightning bolt struck one of our planes, but it appears that even Mother Nature loves to trick others with optical illusions!

Flight Attendant “Just doing her job” Impresses Passenger

Yewande Martins-1
Superstar Flight Attendant Yewande Martins

We know that we have the best crews in the business, and we love to hear our passengers sing their praises.  We received the below note from a passenger who told us how impressed she was by the service that Flight Attendant Yewande Martins provided on a recent flight.

“I am sure you get a million emails a day, but this is one you should read!  I travel quite frequently, and I recently had one of the best inflight experiences ever.  My flight from Houston to Jacksonville could not have been better, and that was 100% due to Yewande Martins.

Between comforting the never-flown-before passengers (seated adjacent to me), helping children with unexpected needs, or assisting frequent flyers (like me), she was amazing.

I know you can’t clone her, but if you could, I’m certain that I, and everyone else, would fly you. It is people like Yewande that make you and United Airlines successful. Please ensure she receives all the proper attention and accolades from what she promises me was “just doing her job.”  I hope I had the honor and privilege of flying with her again.”

Way to go, Yewande!

Pilot Recruiters Make Invaluable Connections at Annual Women in Aviation Conference

WIA 2016

The 27th Annual Women in Aviation International conference wrapped up last week, and we’re proud to have been a part of it!  Nearly 5,000 people participated in the three day event, which was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.  Women in Aviation, International is a not-for-profit focused on encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in aviation, and its members include representatives from all areas of the aerospace industry, including astronauts, pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, airport managers and more.

The annual conference has long been considered one of aviation’s premiere professional development and networking events, and this year’s event was no exception.  Keynote speakers included astronauts Dr. Rhea Seddon and Robert “Hoot” Gibson; Jessica Cox, the world’s first certified armless pilot; Deborah Lee Hames, the 23rd Secretary of the U.S. Air Force; and Doreen Welsh, one of the flight attendants on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 (the “Miracle on the Hudson”).  The conference also included seminars and workshops on a wide variety of aviation-related topics, as well as a job fair that gave attendees the opportunity  interview with airline recruiters.

Our pilot recruiting team was on-site for the entire duration of the job fair, conducting interviews and meeting with both current and aspiring commercial pilots.  “This conference has truly become one of the year’s not-to-be-missed recruiting events, as you get to meet hundreds of candidates face to face,” said pilot recruiter Zenia Bharucha.  “It’s so important to build relationships with the next generation of aviators, and there’s nothing more exciting than watching these young pilots take their first steps towards fulfilling their dreams of flying for a commercial airline.”

Hundreds of prospective pilots were eager to drop off their resumes with our recruiters, which didn’t surprise Director of Recruitment Deb Smith.  “We have a great story to tell.  We’re one of the fastest growing regional airlines in the industry, and we offer top-tier pay, fast Captain upgrades and direct access to the left seat for qualified pilots.  Candidates recognize what we have to offer and are excited about the prospect of flying for us!”

The pilot recruiting team will be on the road all spring, visiting flight schools and collegiate aviation programs, as well as hosting hiring events all over the country.  For a complete list of events, or to schedule an interview, please click here.

Ron Davis Brings a Wealth of Experience to New Role

Ron Davis

Congratulations to Ronald Davis, who has been named the new Manager of Inflight Standards and Compliance.  The Inflight department, which includes all of our Flight Attendants, is hugely focused on the role that our Flight Attendants play in the safety of our passengers, as well as on the customer experience.

Ron will be responsible for the standardization of Inflight policy across operational departments, as well as for the management of Inflight’s Safety Management System, or SMS.  SMS is a widely-used program in aviation that promotes a top down and bottom up approach to safety awareness.  SMS advocates that safety isn’t just the responsibility of management or front line employees, but that every single team member, from pilots and flight attendants to mechanics and office support staff, can play an important role in the safety of an airline.  Safety is always our number one priority, and we take our SMS program very seriously.

With nearly three decades of aviation experience, including an extensive Inflight background, Ron brings a wealth of experience to his new role.  He began his aviation career in 1988 as a Saint Louis-based Flight Attendant with Trans World Airlines (TWA). He held numerous positions within TWA’s Inflight department, and also worked at TWA’s corporate headquarters in its International Pricing/Tariffs, Advertising and Marketing division.  Ron joined our team as a Flight Attendant in 2002 and went on hold various positions in our Inflight Training department.

At Trans States, we believe in promoting from within whenever possible, which means that our employees have significant upward mobility opportunities over the ​course of their careers.  We love seeing talented employees build careers and progress professionally!

Operations Response Team Helps On-Time Performance

In this industry, every minute counts.  On each and every flight we operate, our passengers are counting on us to get them to their final destinations safely and on-time. That’s why several talented Flight Attendants are currently on special assignment to help minimize and prevent operational delays.  The Operations Response Team monitors the causes of delays at our hub airports so that we can better understand why the delays occurred and, and most importantly, what we can do to avoid them in the future.

The team is also on hand to jump in and help our crews in any way that they can, especially during quick turns.  A “quick turn” is when flight crews have only a short amount of time to deplane passengers, clean the cabin, re-stock commissary items, and board passengers for the next flight.  During quick turns, team members can be seen doing everything from helping load gate checked bags and cleaning out seat back pockets, to stocking commissary items and printing releases for our flight crews.

The assistance provided by this team can make the difference between an on-time departure and a flight leaving the gate late.  During a recent turn in St. Louis, the inbound aircraft  arrived late, and in order for the next flight to depart on time, the flight crews had just 20 minutes to deplane the passengers, clean the main cabin, change crews and board passengers for the next flight.  That would have been a tough goal to meet under normal circumstances, but a little extra help can make a big difference.  With the combined efforts of the flight crews and the Operations Response Team, the turn took just 18 minutes!

At Trans States Airlines, we look at each day as a new opportunity to be even better than we were the day before, and the feedback and assistance provided by the Operations Response Team is helping us do just that.  These team members are just a few of the hundreds of Trans States Airlines employees around the country working behind the scenes to ensure that our aircraft operate safely and on-time.

And the Fourth Quarter Above & Beyond Winners are…

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The ballots have been cast, the votes have been tallied, and the winners of our fourth quarter 2015 Above & Beyond contest are now official.  This quarterly contest recognizes team members who go beyond what their job requires of them to provide exemplary service to our passengers. As always, we’re blown away by the kind and caring individuals who call Trans States home.

Ischell Laxon was the winner from our Inflight team.  She received so many customer compliments this quarter that we had trouble deciding on one to highlight.  We finally settled on one from a professional musician, who told us how Ischell went above and beyond to ensure the safety of his orchestra’s instruments during a flight.

Captain Cody Moser and Captain Thomas Ryba took the award in the Team/Flight Crew category.  Captain Moser and Captain Ryba won for the extraordinary way that they worked together to get a grieving passenger and her family on a flight to Houston after the unexpected death of her son.

The Maintenance award this quarter goes to mechanic Josh Varacalli, who finished his shift and then flew across the country so that he could spend his day off fixing a broken aircraft.  Josh was able to troubleshoot and fix the plane within just a few hours of arriving.  Of Josh, the co-worker who nominated him said, “His dedication to the company is truly above and beyond, and he deserves this award if anyone does.”

Our award winner in the Corporate/Station Employee category was Karen Hatlelid, the STL Station Manager. Karen frequently goes out of her way to provide special goodies in the crew room, and recently treated STL flight crews and maintenance employees to grilled cheese and fried egg sandwiches. The crew member who nominated Karen told us that she always has a big smile on her face and a positive attitude!

Our final fourth quarter award recipient is pilot Joshua Cobaugh, who was nominated by a flight attendant who has flown a number of trips with him.  She told us, “I’ve never come across a pilot quite like Josh! He has an amazingly work ethic and provides astonishing customer service to his fellow employees, as well as to the passengers.”

Whenever a flight attendant has a bag that won’t fit in the overhead bin, Josh always offers to carry it back to the jetbridge so the passengers don’t have to.  If there are no ramp employees to take them, he personally carries them to the back of the plane.  If an airport is short staffed during a late night arrival, Josh is quick to help with the wheelchairs, strollers and valet checked bags.  Josh also prioritizes passenger comfort—one cold morning while waiting on air stairs, he used his own bag as a step so that he could warm up the aircraft and ensure that it was at a comfortable temperature by the time the passengers boarded.

Josh’s commitment to his co-workers is also frequently on display.  After a flight, Josh can be found helping the flight attendants cross seat belts, clean out seat back pockets, and even re-stocking the galley.

What an awesome group of employees!  Each winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card for representing the airline in such an exemplary manner.  These individuals are truly representative of the Above & Beyond spirit!

That’s officially a wrap on Above & Beyond for 2015.  But stay tuned—the first quarter 2016 contest is already under way, and we’ll share some of the best submissions that we receive here.

Congratulations to the fourth quarter winners!