Trans States and Southwestern Illinois College Collaborate to Prepare Students for Aviation Careers

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A SWIC Academic Advisor gets a demonstration of the state-of-the-art simulators used by Trans States pilots.

Interested in a career in aviation?  Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) offers a number of affordable aviation career programs, including Aviation Management, Aviation Maintenance Technology, and Aviation Pilot Training.  These programs have been designed to prepare students to jump right into their chosen field upon completion of their coursework.  “Our biggest focus is for students to be comfortable, as well as successful, in the airline training environment by the end of a two to four-year program,” says Keith Mueller, Coordinator of Aviation Flight Management at SWIC.

When SWIC aviation instructors want to show their students how their work in the classroom relates to their future careers, they bring their students to our corporate headquarters in St. Louis, for a behind-the-scenes look at the skills required to land a job at a commercial airline.

A typical visit includes a tour of the Trans States maintenance hangar and a demonstration of the state-of-the-art simulators that our pilots use during training.  Students also have the opportunity to meet company leadership, as well as talk with our various training departments about what a commercial airline will expect of them.

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“These visits are incredibly valuable because they allow students to make a connection between what they’re learning in class and the skills that will be required in their chosen field,” explains Keith Stamper, Director of Flight Operations at Trans States.  For example, when touring our maintenance hangar, students in SWIC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program can actually see Trans States mechanics utilizing the skills that they’re studying in school.

These visits are also valuable to SWIC faculty, as they help ensure that the skills taught in class are consistent with current industry standards.  Aviation is an ever-changing industry, which means that aviation training programs must be able to quickly change with the times.  SWIC’s relationship with Trans States ensures that SWIC instructors are always up-to-speed on the latest training and skills that airlines will expect of their graduates, allowing them to adapt their courses accordingly.

SWIC Academic Advisors also get the same behind-the-scene tour as students and instructors.  Academic Advisors are usually a student’s first point of contact with the school, and are responsible for helping students navigate the different program offerings.  “Our Academic Advisors tour Trans States so that they can better understand how our aviation programs will prepare students for the airline industry,” Mueller explains.  “We feel that these tours have been tremendously successful.”

SWIC’s partnership with Trans States couldn’t have come at a better time.  Demand for aviation careers, especially pilots and mechanics, is at an all-time high, and that demand is expected to rise even higher in the coming years.  Boeing estimates that to keep up with demand, the aviation industry will need to generate over 600,000 commercial pilots and 679,000 aircraft maintenance technicians before the year 2035.

There’s never been a better time to launch a career in aviation.  If you’re looking for an affordable aviation training program that will prepare you for an exciting and in-demand career, contact SWIC today.  We’re looking forward to hiring you when you finish.

Trans States Mechanics Form Local Floor Hockey Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviators Interns Tour Trans States Headquarters, Meet Company Leaders

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Our Aviators internship program provides talented student pilots with a defined pathway to the Trans States flight deck upon completion of ATP minimums.  Throughout the course of the program, participants are mentored by Trans States pilots, are provided with advance copies of training materials, and participate in the Trans States Airlines Command Leadership course, a program typically offered only to Trans States Airlines command pilots.  Interns also visit corporate headquarters in St. Louis to get a behind-the-scenes look at the operation and to meet Trans States leadership.

During a recent group trip to St. Louis, three of our current Aviators shared their insights about the program, including how it will benefit their careers.

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Current Aviators interns pose for a group shot during their recent trip to St. Louis.

Dakota Knaff is a sophomore at Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation, where he is studying Aviation Flight Science and Aviation Operations Management.  Dakota is looking forward to flying the Embraer 145 when he becomes a Trans States pilot. “I’ve always wanted to fly the Embrear 145,” he enthused.  “I flew on one last year to Houston, and I prefer it over the Embraer 175.  It’s smaller, but quick and sleek.”

Dakota is excited about the networking opportunities that Aviators provides student pilots.  “I don’t know of any other airline that brings students to their corporate headquarters, especially if they’re private pilots,” he remarked.  “Being able to meet the Director of Flight Operations is just one example of the endless connections that I know I will make through Aviators.”

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Chief Operating Officer Fred Oxley chats with Aviators interns during a recent visit.

A sophomore at Embry-Riddle in Daytona, Tayvon Gaddis is studying Aeronautical Science with a minor in Meteorology, and is finishing his instrument rating. “I saw a link for Aviators on Facebook that someone just happened to share. I immediately saw the benefits to getting a head start in the professional aviation world.”  The headquarters visit solidified his impression of Trans States as a great place to launch his career.  “Everyone is friendly and helpful,” he said.  “I will absolutely work for Trans States after I complete the Aviators program, because the end result is having a job at a good airline.”

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Aviators interns tour our maintenance hangar and get an up close look at our Embraer 145 aircraft

Daniel Shnick is an Aviation and Finance double-major at Quincy University, and is currently working on his CFI rating.  Daniel discovered Aviators when he was looking for something that would benefit his career while he finished school.  “I met some very enthusiastic Trans States recruiters at Quincy, and they told me about the program,” he explains.  “What really stood out to me was the headquarters visit, training opportunities, and having a pilot mentor.” Daniel is especially looking forward to gaining interview preparation tips from his mentor.

We’re looking forwarding to welcoming these talented pilots to the Trans Sates flight deck in the future.  In the meantime, we’ll be helping them lay the groundwork for a successful commercial aviation career.  If you’d like to join them, click here for more information and to apply online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employee Appreciation Week 2016

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

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

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Taco Thursday at our Raleigh-Durham crew base

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

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Brenton shows us an innovative new way to cook beans!

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

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

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

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a gourmet cupcake truck,

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

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

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

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

On Friday, employees also enjoyed a barbecue

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

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and an afternoon of “knockerball.”

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