Wingman Internship Puts Pilot’s Dreams Within Reach

DSC_0163
Future GoJet pilot, Mario Otchere

The path to flying commercially can be daunting, especially for student pilots who are just starting to earn their hours.  That’s why GoJet offers collegiate aviators a streamlined pathway to a First Officer position at GoJet.  Our Wingman internship program identifies promising pilots while they’re still in flight school and gives them a behind the scenes look at what to expect when they land their first commercial airline job.  Plus, our pilot mentors walk participants through the process of becoming a GoJet pilot upon completion of ATP minimums.

Other benefits include tuition reimbursement, referral bonuses, flight benefits, and advance training opportunities, including simulator time.

One of the student pilots currently benefiting from the program is Mario Otchere. The son of Ghanaian immigrants , Mario is currently a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and working on a Master’s Degree in Aviation Safety at Saint Louis University.  Mario’s aviation aspirations began at a very early age, and his parents were very supportive of his goal to become a pilot.  “My dad especially loved the idea,” he remarked.  “He shared the same dream, but he never had the opportunity to fulfill it himself.”

Being the first pilot in his family, his parents had no airline or flight training connections to start him on the right path. “We basically just kind of shot in the dark,” Mario recalls.  After training in Dubuque, Iowa, Mario and his family quickly learned how expensive it could be to become a pilot.  Mario learned about the Wingman program when researching programs that offset the cost of flight training.  “At the time,” he confessed, “all I knew about GoJet was that it was a small airline in St. Louis. It stood out because it wasn’t one of the major airlines that are often pushed onto students when they’re beginning to formulate their career goals.”

Since beginning the program in 2016, Mario has taken full advantage of everything it has to offer, including pass travel benefits and advance training opportunities.  “I’ve had the opportunity to view and experience some of the same things as line pilots, and have even spent some time in the simulator.”  Now that he’s had a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to be a GoJet pilot, he’s ready to become one.

“My goal is the be in the right seat of a GoJet CRJ in 12 to 20 months. I look forward to the pay, as well as the quick upgrade time.  Both will really help me pay off my student loans.”

Mario is confident that his experience as a Wingman will pay off down the road in his aviation career.  “The Wingman program has given me an in-depth feel as to how an airline operates,” he remarked.  I already have a strong foot in the door with GoJet, and with everything I’ve learned, I’ll be fully prepared for training.”

If you’re an ambitious, career-minded student pilot looking to get a head start on your commercial aviation career, then this program is for you.  Click here to get started.  

Crew Scheduler’s Photography Catches the Attention of National Geographic

Nick Huber NatGeo
“Pray for the Bees” was taken by GoJet’s own Nicholas Huber, and was featured on National Geographic’s website.

When he’s not on the job, GoJet Crew Scheduler Nicholas Huber is perfecting his photography skills.  “I picked it up as a hobby about a year and a half ago,” he explains. “I’m saving money to upgrade my equipment, but I got a digital camera and a couple of lenses to start with.”  Although he’s a relative newbie to the photography world, Nick’s work has already made waves among fellow enthusiasts, and has even been shared on National Geographic’s website.

So far on his photography journey, Nick has most enjoyed capturing nature photos, and it was a nature shot of a friend’s beehive that caught the attention of National Geographic. After showing the image to friends and receiving positive feedback, he decided to submit it to National Geographic’s YourShot program, which gives amateur and professional photographers alike the opportunity to share their photographs with National Geographic editors.  The best images are chosen to appear on National Geographic’s website and in National Geographic magazine.  To Nick’s astonishment, his photo was selected as one of National Geographic’s “Daily Dozen,” a daily showcase of the editors’ 12 favorite YourShot submissions.

“When they reached out to me and told me that my photo was selected, I was pretty amazed,” Nick recalled.  “It was the first time I’d ever submitted any of my work into a contest of any kind!”

Regarding Nick’s photo, National Geographic editor Matt Williams commented,

“Such an interesting frame, and I love the idea of you photographing this scene from the back. A great and creative idea when it comes to photographing a beekeeper and a bee hive. The light is excellent and I love how it reflects off of the beekeeper headgear and the honeycombs.”

In the future, Nick plans to put his employee travel benefits to good use so that he can photograph more unique and interesting places.  “I’m planning backpacking trips with friends to help familiarize me with more nature shots,” he remarked, “and I really want to photograph up and down the Washington and Oregon coastlines.”

GoJet Flight Attendant is a Winner on The Price is Right

20170318_121329
GoJet Flight Attendant Betty Griggs is all smiles after her appearance on The Price is Right earlier this spring.

“Come on down!”  Those iconic words instantly bring to mind the wildly popular TV game show “The Price is Right” and the ecstatic reactions from contestants chosen from the audience to compete.  The show, which has been on television since the 1950s, features contestants competing to win cash and prizes by guessing the prices of different products.  GoJet flight attendant Betty Griggs is lifelong fan of The Price is Right, and had an unforgettable experience when she attended a taping of the show with her family this spring.

When Betty’s cousin offered to request free tickets to a taping of The Price Is Right, Betty was immediately on board – after all, she could easily travel to California using her employee travel benefits.  She just had one condition – her mom had to come, too.

“My mother is 92 years old, and isn’t able to travel as much as she used to,” she explained.  “But she’s been such a big Price Is Right fan for so long that I knew she would want to make the trip.”

20170318_121253
From top:  GoJet Flight Attendant Betty Griggs, Betty’s mother (also named Betty), and Betty’s cousin Joanne

When the trio arrived at the studio, Betty remembered a conversation she had with another flight attendant about the show.  “This flight attendant had been on The Price Is Right, and mentioned that the producer interviews each attendee as they walk in, observing their personality, demeanor, and how they interact with others,” she recalled.  This is where Betty’s instinctual people skills from being a flight attendant gave her a natural advantage. Out of over 200 attendees, Betty was one of the first selected to “come on down”!

A correct bid on a foosball table gave Betty the chance play the game “Flip-Flop” on stage with host Drew Carey.

“I had to match up prices to products,” Betty remarked, “and went with my gut after being unable to determine what the audience was trying to tell me. This was the right move, because the prices matched up, and I won the game!”

Betty then advanced to the Showcase Showdown, where she got the chance to spin the big wheel. Although she didn’t move on to the final Showcase, Betty walked away with a 3-D television and a set of living room furniture, in addition to the foosball table.  While she kept TV and the furniture for herself, Betty gave the foosball table to her son, Barry. “When I told him that it was his, he said that he had a space already picked out for it,” Betty laughs.

When the episode aired in early June, Betty held a themed watch party, where she held games and gave away prizes to her guests, just like The Price is Right. “None of them had seen the episode yet, so from all of their reactions I re-lived the excitement of being there,” she said.

Betty says that while being a contestant and a winner was a thrill, the best part of the trip was experiencing The Price Is Right with her mother.

“I knew it meant a lot to her, and we will always remember it.”

 

FedEx Pilot Credits GoJet Background with Career Success

Nick Bolander_FedEx
Former GoJet pilot Nick Bolander, after wrapping up his first trip as a FedEx First Officer

We love seeing our pilots achieve their career goals.  Nick Bolander began his airline career with GoJet in 2012, and upgraded to Captain just two years later.  Five years to the day after he was hired at GoJet, he was was offered a First Officer position at FedEx.  When he looks back over the past five years, Nick credits his experience at GoJet with getting him to where he is today.

When Nick began FedEx’s training program earlier this year, he discovered that GoJet’s training program had paved the way for his success.  He was pleasantly surprised to find that much of the material was familiar – it had been covered five years ago when he was a new hire at GoJet.

“There were some slight differences here and there, but a lot of it was similar to my new hire training at GoJet,” he remarked.  “GoJet’s training program really paid off down the road and ensured that I was comfortable later in my career.”

Nick also found that the five years he spent flying the CRJ700/900 provided an excellent foundation for learning to fly larger equipment.  “The CRJ is a good building block plane, and CRJ flying put me on solid footing to pick up on new systems,” he explained.  “While larger aircraft have more technological features, I was able grasp them quickly because the CRJ gave me a good understanding of aircraft operations and functionality.”

Nick further credits his career progression to opportunities at GoJet that extended far beyond the flight deck.  GoJet encourages pilots to make the most of their time with the airline by getting involved in other areas of the company.  In fact, When GoJet pilot recruiters interview applicants, they’re specifically looking for pilots who are going to come to GoJet and make a difference.  “We’re looking for pilots who are going to do more than just fly their shift, make their money, and go home,” pilot recruiter James Douvier explains. “We want to hire people who are going to be involved and engaged in the airline.”  Nick did just that during his time at GoJet, and played an important role in a variety of projects.

“Since day one,” he said, “there were always chances to get involved beyond being a line pilot. Everything I was able to do offered a new and different perspective into my career path, and helped prepare me for future training.”

Nick Bolander_FedEx3
Captain Bolander during his last trip as a GoJet pilot

In addition to heading a Safety committee, Nick worked on behalf of the pilot’s union to help Scheduling and Dispatch ensure more efficient lines by testing software that rebuilt projected trips and restructured trip pairings.

“On top of being a pilot,” Nick explains, “this helped me better understand how an airline works, from both a Dispatch and Scheduling perspective.”

Nick now plans to fly for FedEx for the remainder of his career. “I’ll most likely be flying here until I retire or until I can’t fly anymore, whichever comes first,” he laughs.  However, even though he’s moved on, Nick is still close with his former colleagues.

“Whether they’re still there or have also moved on, the friendships I made at GoJet have stuck with me just as strongly as my training.”

Nick is just one of the many GoJet pilots who have gone on to fly for some of the top airlines in the world.  If you’re looking for an airline experience that’s going to give you the training and experience you need to achieve your career goals, drop our pilot recruiters a line at pilotjobs@gojetairlines.com.

Director of Maintenance Likens Camaraderie at GoJet to the Marine Corps

Jeff-Bast
Marine Corps Veteran and GoJet Director of Maintenance, Jeff Bast

When leaving the military, it’s common for Veterans to look for careers in the civilian world that will allow them to utilize the training they received in the armed forces.  For example, military pilots and aircraft mechanics often put their skills to work in the airline industry when their active duty responsibilities are complete.

Marine Corps Veteran and GoJet Director of Maintenance did just that.  Prior to his airline career, Jeff spent five years as an Avionics Technician in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he ensured that Maine Corps aircraft, including AV-8B Harrier jets, were mission capable.

When Jeff left active duty, he found that his avionics skills were very marketable in the civilian world.  He was recruited by a St. Louis-based regional airline, where he went on to spend over 15 years holding progressively responsible Tech Ops positions before joining GoJet as its new Director of Maintenance in early 2017.

With the exception of combat situations, Jeff says that the major difference between military and commercial aviation is the activity level of the aircraft that technicians work on.  “If you’re an Avionics Technician stationed at a military base, you’re primarily going to work on a fleet that’s grounded, but still needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice,” he said.  “But an airline is a business, and every decision you make is hyper-focused on keeping aircraft in the air.”

Despite having an office at GoJet’s corporate headquarters, Jeff always looks for opportunities to get his hands dirty at the maintenance hangar.  “Who likes sitting in an office all day?” he laughed. “Plus, getting in the trenches gives me the opportunity to interact with our front line mechanics.”

Even though his active duty days are behind him, Jeff says that the camaraderie he has with his co-workers at GoJet reminds him of the relationships he had with his fellow soldiers in the Marines.

“I found a good group of people in the military,” Jeff recalls, “and it was the same when I joined GoJet. I love working with the people in this company, just like I loved working with the people in my squadron.”

GoJet Airlines is a proud supporter of our men and women in uniform.  We value military leadership, and are proud that many Veterans like Jeff have chosen GoJet for their civilian careers.

Captain Bob Layman Flies into Retirement with his Son in the Right Seat

img_20170424_171323.jpg
Captain Bob Layman and his son, Captain Nathan Layman, during Bob’s final trip before retirement.

When GoJet Captain Bob Layman put in his retirement paperwork, he had one final request for Crew Scheduling.  There was a certain pilot that he really wanted in the right seat for his last trip – his son, GoJet Captain Nathan Layman.  The two had flown together a few times before Nate upgraded to Captain, and Bob hoped to repeat the experience before he retired.

Bob knew that it would be tricky – the two were based in different domiciles, and the likelihood of two Captains from different domiciles being paired together on the same trip was virtually nil.  But Bob couldn’t imagine a better way to end his 121 career than flying with his son – could Crew Scheduling pull it off?

The answer was yes.  While Bob had hoped to fly a leg or two with his son to mark his retirement, Crew Scheduling, with the help of St. Louis Base Manager Nikki Lutz, gave Bob the best last trip he could have asked for – a four-day trip with his son.  The result was an unforgettable and emotional experience for both men.

IMG_20170425_172241
Captain Bob Layman poses with his last crew before retirement.

During the final flight of the trip, Bob told the passengers that there was something special about their flight, and that he had a story to share with them.  That story went something like this:

“I know those of you with kids understand what love at first site feels like. Back in February of 1980, I was blessed to hold a little bundle of joy in my arms right after he was born. In the year 2000, I was blessed again when I was able to train and recommend that same young lad for his private pilot’s license when he started his aviation career. Now, here I sit in the front of this airliner with my son, Nathan.

I was able to sit beside him as he started his career, and now we sit side by side as I close out my airline flying career. Bookends of sorts, to a season. We are so blessed GoJet allowed us to do this, and I’m even more blessed that Nathan allowed me to sit in the Captain’s seat for our entire four-day trip. It’s been a real honor.  Thank you for joining us.”

The trip meant a lot to Nathan, too.  “It was both a positive and emotional experience,” he said.  “It didn’t really sink in at first that maybe only one percent of pilots can share such a great memory as this.”

Both men were grateful to GoJet for giving them such a special opportunity.  “You’ve given us a memory that will not only never go away, but will never fade,” Bob said.  “The are no words capable of expressing the appreciation we have for what you allowed us to do.”  Nathan agreed, adding, “I will always be grateful to GoJet for orchestrating this opportunity that will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

Other than flying with his son, Bob says that GoJet’s environment of camaraderie is what he’ll remember the most about his time with the company.  “In the early days, GoJet felt like a small family,” he remarked.  “As it’s grown, it now feels more like an extended family.  The people who I’ve worked and flown with have made my time here really fun, and I will miss it.”

While sentimental about retirement, Bob couldn’t be happier about how his career ended.  “I am one of the most blessed people on the planet,” he exclaimed. “There are very few people who can say that they’ve been able to fly a plane with their own son.  I put this on the same level as my children’s births, weddings, and graduations – I couldn’t be a prouder father.”

GoJet Crew Bases Offer Something for Everyone

Wondering what there is to do in your new crew base?  We’ve got you covered.  From ski slopes in Colorado, to nature trails in Raleigh, our crew base cities offer something for everyone.  Here’s a sampling of some of the top things to do in each of our domiciles.

St. Louis, Missouri

STL
Your visit to St. Louis isn’t complete without a trip to the top of the famous Gateway Arch.

A sports town to its core, St. Louis is home to both professional baseball (the St. Louis Cardinals) and hockey (the St. Louis Blues).  Catch a game at Busch Stadium, or get a bird’s eye view of the action on the field from 360, the rooftop bar and restaurant atop the St. Louis Hilton at the Ballpark.  While in St. Louis, a trip to the top of the iconic Gateway Arch is a must, as is a visit to Forest Park, named by Travel + Leisure as “one of America’s coolest city parks and one of the world’s most beautiful city parks.”

The Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center,  and the St. Louis Art Museum offer stimulating fun for all ages – and they’re all free!  Spend a day perusing the countless unique shops and restaurants in the Delmar Loop, or take in a live performance – venues including The Muny, The Fabulous Fox, and the Peabody Opera House are not to be missed.  And you can’t go wrong with a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Chicago, Illinois

Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs

Not far from St. Louis is another Midwestern gem, Chicago, Illinois. A sports hub, Chicago is home to two Major League Baseball teams, including the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, as well as to NHL, NFL, and NBA franchises.

With over 600 public parks, including local favorites Millennium Park and Grant Park, Chicago boasts plenty of avenues for outdoor recreation and entertainment. If you visit Grant Park between early May and mid-October, be sure to check out the water show at Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world. Evening shows are accompanied by a light and music display.

Michigan Avenue, or the “Magnificent Mile,” offers some of the best shopping in the country,  while the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and Shedd Aquarium all offer engaging educational fun.  After a century, Navy Pier continues to delight visitors with sights, sounds, tastes, and activities.  Navy Pier’s spectacular fireworks shows take place bi-weekly throughout the summer, and its famous Ferris wheel offers a view of the city like none other.

Denver, Colorado

Red Rocks
Red Rocks Amphitheater

The Mile High city has it all.  The famous Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater plays host to some of the world’s top musical acts, and offers an unforgettable live performance experience.  Captivating places to experience culture and history abound, including the United States Mint, the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Nature and Science, and the Botanic Gardens.

Dine and shop at Larimer Square and the 16th Street Mall, or take a tour of the Coors Brewery.  If you’re a sports fan, the Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets and Denver Avalanche have got you covered.

With the Rocky Mountains in its backyard, it goes without saying that Denver is paradise for winter sports enthusiasts.  In addition to the action on the slopes, Denver is close to numerous national parks and historic sites.  Visit Rocky Mountain National Park and drive on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world.

Detroit, Michigan

During your time in Detroit, be sure to pay homage to the Motor City’s stunning achievements in the automotive industry.  After you visit the birthplace of the Model T at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, watch the manufacturing process of a Ford F-150 truck from the elevated walkway overlooking the Dearborn Truck Plant’s final assembly line.

Ford-Factory-Tour
Assembly Line at the Dearborn Truck Plant

Just as deeply rooted in Detroit’s history is music.  Launched in 1959, the Detroit-based Motown record label represented some of the most famous acts in music, including Marvin Gaye, Chubby Checker and Stevie Wonder.  Visit the Motown Museum, and stand in Studio A, where legends including the Supremes and the Temptations recorded some of their best-known hits. Spend some time exploring the District Detroit, 50 blocks of restaurants, bars and event destinations.  While you’re in the District, take in a show at one of Detroit’s many theatre venues, including the stunning Fox Theatre, as well as its smaller next door neighbor, City Theatre.

Sports fans can rest assured that Detroit’s MLB, NHL and NFL teams will quench their competitive thirst and spirit, while the Campus Martius Park and Detroit Princess Riverboat both offer unique outdoor outings.  And as if this all wasn’t enough, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Michigan Science Center will excite and stimulate your mind.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Raleigh offers endless opportunities for lovers of the great outdoors.  The area is home to two state parks, including the Falls Lake State Recreation Area and William B. Umstead State Park, and both are both are prime locations for swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.  The Neuse River Trail caters to cyclists and hikers, and is the longest greenway trail in North Carolina.  Take in the view from its two  suspension bridges, and keep an eye out for beavers, cranes, and Great Blue Herons.

Museum buffs, be sure to visit the North Carolina Museum of History.  The Wright Brothers’ first flight took place in 1903 in nearby Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and the museum is home to a full-scale replica of the Wright Flyer.  The museum is also home to a cannon and other artifacts recovered from a shipwrecked pirate vessel, as well as to “The Story of North Carolina,” a permanent exhibit that traces 14,000 years of North Carolina history.  Young and old alike will also love the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Art, and Marbles Kids Museum.

Historic City Market Raleigh
Raleigh’s City Market

Raleigh was named one of the top 10 “Tastiest Towns in the South” by Southern Living magazine, and the local restaurant scene lives up to the hype.  With over 1,200 local restaurants, and options ranging from sushi to Middle Eastern, there’s sure to be something for everyone.  Be sure to try Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue (made with vinegar, salt, and red and black pepper) at one of the city’s many barbeque joints, and check out the diverse flavors of Historic City Market, an eclectic area of restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques.

Regardless of where you’re based, you’re certain to have a great time exploring your new domicile.  Each city is home to unique events and places, just waiting to be discovered.