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!

 

Maintenance Controllers Critical Component of Operational Success

At any given moment, there are hundreds of Trans States Airlines employees working behind the scenes to ensure the safe operation of our airline. Unlike more visible front-line employees, like pilots or flight attendants, our passengers will never meet these employees or have the opportunity to thank them for their efforts.  But every day, these un-sung heroes are working tirelessly to make sure that our passengers get to their destinations safely.  One of these individuals is Maintenance Control Supervisor Chris Hoover.

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Maintenance Control Supervisor Chris Hoover

Maintenance Controllers are licensed A & P mechanics who troubleshoot aircraft mechanical issues for pilots flying the line and mechanics at out stations.  If a pilot encounters a mechanical issue with an aircraft, their first call is to Maintenance Control. Often, Maintenance Control can walk the pilot through the issue over the phone, which frees up out-station mechanics for more involved repairs.  If it’s a more complicated problem, Maintenance Control will diagnose the likely source of the problem and recommended a course of action to local mechanics.

“Maintenance Controllers are critical to on-time performance, ” said Trans States Airlines Director of Maintenance, Matt Wright.  “In addition to assisting and providing detailed information to our technicians in the field, the Maintenance Control group is responsible for all deferred maintenance activity, scheduling short-term preventative maintenance, monitoring and repair of repeat maintenance activity, troubleshooting and repair of outstation aircraft, and a host of other less visible maintenance activities. The decisions made by this group don’t just affect a single aircraft but the entire fleet.”

Unlike our hangar and line mechanics, who are outside fixing aircraft in the snow, the heat, and everything in between, our Maintenance Controllers are part of Systems Operations Control (SOC) in our St. Louis headquarters building.  That’s because the other departments in the SOC, including Crew  Scheduling and Dispatch, rely on information from Maintenance Control to make important decisions that affect the operation. For example, if a flight is delayed due to a maintenance issue, Maintenance Control communicates the estimated back in service time to Crew Scheduling and Dispatch so that the departure can be re-scheduled and re-crewed, if necessary.

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Chris started working for Trans States as a licensed A & P mechanic right out of college, and spent his first three years with the company working in the St. Louis hangar facility.  He then spent two years as a mechanic on the flight line before making the move to Maintenance Control.  He says that a few different factors, including pay and the opportunity to work indoors, led him to made the move to Maintenance Control.

“I thought about staying on the line, but I was ready for a change, and there was a pay increase with the Maintenance Controller position,” Chris remarked.  “Plus, I get to do the same work as a mechanic in the field, but I’m away from the elements, which is nice.” Chris takes a lot of pride in his position and says that the Trans States Maintenance Control group is, “top-notch and knowledgeable, and has a real understanding of the Embraer 145 aircraft.”

Vice President of Tech Ops, Rob Truax, agrees.  “Our Maintenance Control team represents some of our very best maintenance talent.  You really have to be at the top of your game, professionally, to work in Maintenance Control.”

If you’re a licensed and experienced A & P mechanic and are looking for a new challenge, there’s never been a better time to explore career opportunities in Maintenance Control.  In fact, Trans States is currently offering a $12,000 retention bonus to all current and new hire Maintenance Controllers.  To learn more or apply online, please click here.

Flight Attendant Gina Kabat Shows That Small Gestures Can Make a Big Impact

One of the top priorities for our flight attendants is making sure our passengers know that we value their business.  One of the ways that they do this is by personally recognizing frequent flyers and their mileage status.  It’s just a small gesture, but it goes a lot way toward making our passengers feel appreciated.  We received the below note from a passenger who was impressed when flight attendant Gina Kabat recognized his United 1K status.

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Go-getter Flight Attendant Gina Kabat.

I just got home from a very busy travel schedule in August and found some time to send you an message about one of your outstanding employees.  Gina Kobat was sure to recognize my 1K status with United. That acknowledgment, while small, went a long way with me.  She provided first rate service and made sure that even the smallest requests were taken care of.  If only all airlines had people like Gina working for them.  She is an outstanding representative of your airline, and my only wish to you as that she is recognized for her hard work and her warm personality that make the life of a frequent traveler more enjoyable.

Thank you,

Jeffrey K.

Our flight attendants are true professionals, and their commitment to the passenger experience is second to none.  Gina and the entire Trans States flight attendant team work hard to give our passengers a memorable experience on each and every flight.

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

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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!

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:

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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!

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!

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!