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!

 

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.

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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.”

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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!