Two Trans States Captains Transition to Frontier in New Pilot Flow Program

Trans States Airlines pilots now have a direct pathway to the Frontier Airlines flight deck.  The new Pilot Flow Program guarantees participating Trans States pilots a First Officer position with the Denver-based Airbus operator after as little as two years of service with Trans States.

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Captain Benjamin Church, a Trans States Pilot who will flow to Frontier this July.

Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Jeffrey Martin are two of the first Trans States pilots to join the flow program. Although these pilots have spent a combined total of 29 years with Trans States, they’re eager to flow to a major airline and appreciate the seamless process in doing so.

“My flow process was simple and hassle-free,” Captain Church said. “It will be interesting to transition from a regional Captain to a First Officer at a major airline, but I am most looking forward to flying an Airbus, learning new procedures and expanding my skill sets even more,” Captain Church said.

Captain Church has gained a plethora of experiences that will help him excel in his new journey with Frontier, but says the most valuable thing he can bring with him from his 17-year career with Trans States is a teamwork approach.

“I would say a great character strength that I developed at Trans States was teamwork. As a Captain you work together with a First Officer and a flight attendant to make sure that the job is done safely and accurately,” Captain Church said.

Captain Church thinks Trans States is an amazing company to work for with a fantastic company culture.

“It’s going to be difficult for me to walk away from this job because I really like and respect all of my colleagues,” Captain Church said.


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Captain Jeffrey Martin, a Trans States Pilot who will flow to Frontier this July.

Captain Martin was a flight instructor at Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach, FL when he was introduced to commercial aviation. This was a path that Captain Martin hadn’t considered before, but he was so impressed by the recruiter’s genuine interest and presentation that he considered a pilot position with the company. Fast forward to today, and Captain Martin has spent 12 years flying on Trans States’ behalf.

When the Frontier Pilot Flow Program was introduced and Captain Martin learned that additional interviewing was not required for pilots accepted into the program, he jumped at the opportunity.

“A change in aircraft is what I’m most looking forward to in my transition to flying with Frontier. An Airbus is a very attractive, and larger aircraft. I’ve spent so many years flying in a 50-seater and look forward to seamlessly advancing my career.” Captain Martin said.

Admittedly, Trans States has a great group of pilots that Captain Martin will miss.

“At Trans States, we’re a close-knit group of pilots and are much like family here,” Captain Martin said. “I truly enjoy working with our crews, and I’m going to miss it.”

TSA_FrontierLogoGraphic_APR18_Blue&Green_FinalTo learn more about the Trans States to Frontier Flow Program, visit https://bit.ly/2k1Oe8B.

Three Trans States Military Pilots reflect on Memorial Day

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Trans States First Officer, Joshua Groth

Memorial Day is national holiday where American soldiers who have died are remembered for their active military service. Trans States is proud to share the reflections of military pilots Joshua Groth, Randall Zehnder, and Dennis Cruz this Memorial Day. Read more to learn why they serve(d) their country and how they applied military skills in commercial aviation careers with Trans States.

Seeing his father serve as a Crew Chief and fly helicopters in the army strongly inspired Josh to follow suit. Coming from a patriotic and military-centric family, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree when Josh decided to join the army.

“I grew infatuated and fell in love with aviation, particularly helicopters, because I was always around them,” Josh said. “My father and my grandfathers all served in the military, and I’ve been in the army for nine years. When I was six years old Desert Storm took place and watching that helped me to understand that we have rights and freedoms that people defend. My responsibility to serve in the military was to ensure that we had the same freedoms as the ones who served before us.”

Currently, Josh serves as an Army National Guard Rotor Pilot as well as a First Officer with Trans States Airlines. He notes that there are remarkable similarities with each role.

“I initially joined Trans States because everybody genuinely enjoyed what they did, and it wasn’t just about punching in a ticket to get a paycheck,” Josh said. “I was really impressed by the camaraderie of the organization, much like my military family, and the opportunity to fly with other pilots who keep safety a top priority.”

This Memorial Day, Josh honored his fallen armed force colleagues by flying a helicopter during a memorial service at a local veteran’s cemetery.


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Captain Randall Zehnder at Tall Afar Air Force base.

Captain Randall Zehnder (Randy) served in the Air Force for five years and the Army National Guard for 25 years—retiring with 30 years of military service. Randy’s story is much like Josh’s in that his father also inspired him to explore aviation at a young age.

“My father showed me the importance of having a strong work ethic and obtained his private pilot license when I was ten years old,” Randy said. “When he took me flying I was hooked and decided that I wanted a pilot’s license as well. I was able to reach that goal while still in high school.”

When Randy initially enlisted, he began focusing on obtaining his commercial pilot’s license and instrument ratings. After leaving the Air Force, Randy joined the Army National Guard to take a rotary wing qualification course, and later became interested in transitioning from rotor to fixed wing flying.

“I began working with Trans States in June of 1984 and I’ve been here nearly 34 years,” Randy said. “When I started, the company’s name was Resort Air and had been flying two Metro II aircraft for about a year.”

Captain Randy’s career progressed, serving in management with Trans States for 20 years, and he has spent the last eight years training flight students and working as a System Chief Pilot.

“Trans States has been around for a long time,” Randy said. “From my early career days through today, I’ve learned that Trans States has some of the best crews to fly with the industry. We’ve also have had the ability to face challenges in the past, remain flexible, and always come out stronger than before in the ever-changing aviation industry.”

This Memorial Day, Randy spent his day relaxing with his wife and remembering those who died in the line of duty.


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First Officer, Dennis Cruz and family upon his homecoming from deployment in Winter 2014.

First Officer Dennis Cruz began his aviation career as a response to a need. 

“Aviation had not been a lifelong dream of mine,” Dennis said. “As a teenager, I was making poor choices, and dropped out of high school. Afterwards, I was encouraged to enter the military. I enlisted in the Marines and took the opportunity to fly. I fell in love with it and never looked back since then.”

Dennis served in the Marines for 20 years before joining Trans States. He was able to transfer skills such as flexibility, attention to detail, and his passion for safety to his new commercial aviation career.

“Trans States was the first airline I contacted! I had heard great things from a friend who was employed with the company.” Dennis said.

Success and advancement have trailed Dennis’ career. Dennis left Trans States in an attrition transition to American Airlines. Despite his current position at a coveted major airline, Dennis admits that he misses the dynamic he had with his Trans States colleagues.

“I genuinely miss the group of pilots I worked with at Trans States because they were all a great group of men and women to fly with.” Dennis said.

Dennis spent his Memorial Day in Dallas, while attending basic INDOC training.

To learn more about Trans States’ military pilot program, visit https://bit.ly/2scQUUX.

Trans States Flight Attendants Recognized for Excellence

This quarter our codeshare, United Airlines, had 65 nominations for the UAXcellence recognition program.  Out of a total of 18 award-winners, Trans States had six flight attendants win the prestigious award! Please join us in congratulating Rebecca Reid, Alisha Nieshe, Sheryl Smith, Opal Gunn, Aryen Barr, and Michelle Scarfino, on a job well done. United considers awardees to be high-performers who regularly go above and beyond their duties with superior quality and results. Read some of their stories below:

REBECCA REID

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Trans States Airlines Flight Attendants, Alisha Nieshe and Rebecca Reid. Both are recognized as UAXcellence winners.

My grandparents raised me, so I grew up around airplanes as my grandpa was in the Air Force/Air National Guard. He was stationed in STL at Lambert and I would go to work with him when I was little and get to play on the airplanes and hangout at his office. I loved every minute of it!

I started flying when I was 19 years old at Trans States Airlines. I came across the interview by mistake as I thought I was going to interview for an Airport Customer Service Runner. Well, after the interview to be a flight attendant I was hooked. I was at TSA for about a year and then I went to TWA. TWA was a STL staple, so I was only overjoyed that I got to work at such an iconic airline. After 9/11 I was furloughed from TWA and returned to TSA. I was happy to return to my “family” and to be able to keep flying. I was at TSA another 2 years and then I took a departure from flying to attend school. From the moment I left I missed it. Once flying is in your soul you can’t let it go. Life went on and about 10 years had passed, and I came to realize that you only get one life. You might as well spend it doing what you love. I was very grateful to be able to return TSA and this time not only to some of the same wonderful people I had worked with before but with a new-found respect and gratitude that I was going to be able to do what I loved to do for a living again.

I have now been here for four years this coming September and I am grateful and honored every day. I am now a check airman and help in the inflight department with flow of flight. I love being a check airman as I get to meet the new trainees and see them apply all of their new-found knowledge.

SHERYL D. SMITH

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Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant, Sheryl D. Smith

I’ve had the pleasure of working for Trans States for three years and 10 months. I love setting and maintaining the mood of gladness on each flight!  I never know what someone’s day held for them prior to them approaching the main cabin door. Therefore, I discard anything non-positive, because those valuable customers who crossed my threshold, have usually never met me. Whatever may have them not feeling their happiest, initiated before we saw one another, and I never internalize that energy.  Those who’ve been on one of my flights gladly say, “It’s good to see you again!”

It gives me great pleasure knowing each passenger exits the same main cabin door with thankfulness for my service, appreciation of my smile throughout my announcements on the flight, joy from my personalization using names with each passenger and appreciation of my professionalism! Those emotions are frequently accompanied with a pat on the shoulder, handshake, a fist bump, even a hug or occasional request to be photographed together!

I take none of it lightly! From 50 passengers plus a Jumpseater and lap children, to 1 passenger on his “personal jet,” every flight gets the very best I have to offer.

ARYEN J. BARR

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Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant, Aryen J. Barr

Most people know me as AJ and I’m ORD based flight attendant. I have been with Trans States for four years and have had the time of my life! What I love most about being a flight attendant is getting to opportunity to meet various people from around the world with unique experiences. Learning about these people has helped me become a better person. Whether it’s a beautiful travel day and we’re 45 minutes early or we’re behind schedule, getting to know the people I encounter and trying to make their lives better brings me joy.

 

MICHELLE MANTIA-SCARFINO

michelle scarfinoI’ve worked at Trans States airlines since 2014. What I love about flying is serving customers and having the opportunity to interact with them. I try to call every passenger by name, which they love, and treat them like they are a guest in my home. No matter what they may have experienced prior to walking through that main cabin door, I try to create a positive and pleasant experience for them while on board. My goal is always to treat everyone the way I would like to be treated.

To learn more about becoming a Trans States flight attendant, click here: https://bit.ly/2Gh8xaS. To nominate a current employee for Trans States’ Above and Beyond program, click here: https://bit.ly/2rHSLR5.

Aviators Walk a Clear Path to Trans States’ Flight Deck

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Former Trans States Airlines Aviators Kyle Meyer (L) and George Chiampas (R) who are now First Officers in training.

Student pilots who dream to fly begin determining an airline home as early as their private pilot’s license is obtained, and they’ve enrolled in flight school. For Kyle Meyer and George Chiampas, the best choice was Trans States Airlines. As former interns in Trans States’ Aviators internship program and now First Officers in training, these gentlemen have paved a clear and defined pathway to our flight deck. Find out how our Aviators began their journeys to the best culture, community and camaraderie of any regional airline.

“Between bases, pay, and the ability to fly, Trans States provides the quickest route to the major airlines with the greatest quality of life for what I am looking for, Meyer said.”

In addition to quality of life provisions provided for Trans States pilots, Aviators also appreciate the way in which the airline conducts training.  After applying and being selected to become a Trans States Aviator, student pilots are invited to spend four days at the St. Louis-based headquarters where they receive a pilot mentor, meet Flight Ops teams, talk with students in systems training, tour the facility and more.

“The way the instructors approach different topics helped me to easily understand the material,” Chiampas said. “The class size is small which is beneficial for learning, and the training is realistic. We went into the cabin trainer for a session with a fog machine which was a really great experience. I was also able to have one-on-one time with the instructor to make sure that I fully understood the content. The instructors really do the best they can to give you an amazing learning experience. It’s clear that they truly have your best interest at heart and want you to be the best pilot you can be.”

Meyer added “The training environment at Trans States has been amazing compared to friends of mine at other airlines. Everything is done at the St. Louis headquarters, other than the ATP/CTP course, unlike my friends who have moved between training facilities multiple times. If there is an issue with uniforms or travel for example, I can walk downstairs during one of our breaks and talk with a person in the department. I also appreciate how the instructor takes the time to get to know you and better prepares you for the exams. With Trans States, we have the time for hands-on practice with the material that we have been taught.”

Once students are accepted into the Aviators Program they act as a field recruiter for Trans States recruiting events. They also have the opportunity to bank $1,500 for each pilot that they refer, is hired, and completes their training. Once Aviators complete ATP minimums they become a Trans States First Officer in training and are eligible for new hire bonuses and all banked funds.

To learn more about Trans States’ Aviators program, please click here: http://bit.ly/2BLlGdV

“People who Care” Why Ben Zwebner Flies Trans States

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Trans States Captain Ben Zwebner

When he’s not flying the line, Captain Ben Zwebner is the voice behind the “Ask a Line Pilot” feature on our website, where he answers questions on topics ranging from base assignments and bidding, to what life is like on reserve.  Recently, someone asked Ben why he personally chose to fly for Trans States, and why he would recommend Trans States over another regional airline.  Here’s what Ben had to say:

Back in 2010, I interviewed with three regional airlines.  All were big names at the time. I was offered a position with two, and I accepted the one that I felt best fit what I was looking for.  But I was a brand new commercial pilot, and knew very little about airline life.  Long story short, it was not a positive experience.  I had such a rough time working for them that I eventually quit and swore off  an airline career altogether.

Instead, I  pursued a career in general aviation, accepting a position as the Chief Instructor of a 141 flight academy, while working other flying side jobs.  After two years at the school, two of my instructors and friends left to work for Trans States, and they both listed me as a reference.  Later, Trans States recruiting reached out to me through them as a potential candidate.  Naturally I was hesitant to get back into the airline world.  Yet due to my friends’ enthusiasm about Trans States, I decided  that I at least needed to call the recruiters back, thank them, and tell them that I intended to decline the offer. 

But even though my response was “thanks, but no thanks,” a recruiter convinced me to come to St. Louis for an interview anyways.  Off I went. I had no intention of taking the job.  I wore a polo shirt and khakis because I was just taking the interview to be polite.  I don’t think that I even tucked my shirt in. 

However, when I arrived, the interview was different than my previous airline interviews.  The other three interviews I had done years before felt very cold and cookie cutter. 

At Trans States, I felt like the recruiter was more interested in who I was, as opposed to what I had memorized from an interview prep book. 

We had a very friendly conversation. While I was sitting there, a sim instructor dropped by and joined the conversation.  I saw a very warm and friendly dynamic.  Over the next few days, I hung around the airport and spoke with as many Trans States pilots as I could. Each one of them told me how much they liked working there.  After much deliberation, I took the job!

When I started training in 2014, the FAA changed over to the new ATP rules that we know today.  When I passed my systems oral exam and the paperwork went to the FAA, Captain Stelzner, the System Chief Pilot, was informed that I was not eligible to fly at a 121 airline under the new ATP rules, due to a grey area in the new rules that I fell into with my ATP certificate.

Captain Stelzner called me up to apologize, and told me that I was going to be cut from the course.  But instead of firing me, he found me a position as a training scheduler so that I could have a job, maintain my seniority and stay with Trans States while I worked on finding a solution.  A month later, the FAA approved my returning to the course.  Within 12 hours I was back in a class, picking up where I left off.   

Trans States could have just pushed me aside as if I was just another pilot–and I was exactly that, just another pilot.  But they didn’t. That same Captain Stelzner, who helped me find a solution rather than letting me go, is now our Director of Flight Operations, which is very comforting.

When I interviewed with the other airlines in the past, despite being excited that I was offered the job, I felt that I was just a number to them.  At my old airline, I most definitely just felt like a number on their roster, and was treated as such.  

At Trans States, Crew Scheduling knows me by name. They even called me to congratulate me on the birth of my son. 

Another time, I was on my way in for a trip when I got the news that my cousin’s wife lost her battle to leukemia overseas.  I told my Regional Chief Pilot and he told me on the spot that I could go be with my family. He said would find a way to cover my flying. Just like that.  All so I could be with my cousin during his loss. Having the benefit of seeing how it could be, I am glad of how it is here, at Trans States. 

I know that was long-winded but my point is that the people at Trans States care.  That means a lot in the 121 world. There’s more to an airline than numbers, statistics, seats in the back, or if the engines are mounted on the wings or the tail. 

Kermit the Frog sings, “It’s not easy being green. People tend to pass you over because you are not standing out like sparkles on the water or stars in the sky.” 

That’s us.  We are green.  We don’t have the sparkles of the bigger planes, but we have a great set of values and management that I feel truly cares.  I enjoy coming into work because I love my crew members. Each one of them has become like an extended family member. Some are close like brothers and sisters, others are like your kooky aunt who you see once a year, but overall, they are good and fun-loving professionals that make each trip a joy.  Trans States is a small company with a good heart.  

Do you have questions about life at Trans States?  Captain Zwebner can answer them here: http://bit.ly/2CGkGtg