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.  

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.

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.”

Direct Entry Captain Program Provides Relief for Pilots Facing Long Upgrade Times at Other Regionals

Kyle-Barret
Direct Entry Captain Kyle Barret

At some regional airlines, it can take as long as 7 years to upgrade to Captain, even for pilots who are Captain-qualified. And until a regional pilot is a Captain, they can’t start accumulating Pilot in Command, or PIC time.

The Pilot in Command, or PIC, is the crew member ultimately held responsible for the safety of a flight.  The number of hours that pilots act in the role of Pilot in Command is called PIC time.  The more PIC time that a pilot has, the better their chances of being offered a position with a major carrier.

First Officers facing long upgrade times often find themselves in professional limbo, unable to accumulate the Pilot in Command, time that they need to move on, but understandably hesitant to start over with another regional, as it would require walking away from years of accrued seniority.

DEC-Zack-Moore-03-30-17
Direct Entry Captain Zach Moore

Fortunately, GoJet’s Direct Entry Captain program provides a welcome solution for pilots caught between a rock and a hard place.  This program allows pilots who are Captain-qualified to join GoJet as a Captain, rather than a First Officer, and immediately start earning PIC time.  The program, which is the only of its kind in the country, provides relief for pilots who have been flying as First Officers for years with no upgrade in sight.

One such pilot is GoJet Direct Entry Captain Brad Meyer.  He flew as a First Officer at another airline for 8 years, before taking a three year hiatus from the industry.  He had no intention of returning to aviation, knowing that he’d have to start over again as a First Officer.  However, GoJet’s Direct Entry Captain program changed his mind.  “After flying as a First Officer for 8 years, I didn’t want to start over at that level,” he said.  “This program allowed me to start flying again, but this time as a Captain.”

Jason-Duvernay
Direct Entry Captain Jason DuVernay

Direct Entry Captain Kyle Barrett agrees, remarking, “The Direct Entry Captain program has been perfect for my career.” Kyle, a former regional First Officer, left the regional world several years ago for corporate flying.  However, he decided to return to regional flying to gain additional 121 experience that would make him more marketable to a major carrier.  Given the depth of his experience, the Direct Entry Captain program made it possible for him to immediately start flying as a Captain, rather than starting over again as a First Officer.

One misconception about the program is that Direct Entry Captains “cut in line” ahead of First Officers already on property, thus increasing the time that it takes for those First Officers to upgrade.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Upgrade time is tied to seniority, and seniority is tied to a pilot’s start date.  A First Officer already on property will be higher on the seniority list than a new hire Direct Entry Captain.  When a First Officer upgrades, they immediately bypass all Captains junior to them on the seniority list, while a Direct Entry Captain will sit reserve if there are no lines available.

However, Direct Entry Captains get plenty of flying time.  Lines open up with attrition, and an average of 15-25 pilots leave GoJet each month to move on to major airlines and legacy carriers. Also, Direct Entry Captains can fly in both seats, which means that a Direct Entry Captain can cover a trip as a First Officer, while still getting paid as a Captain.

In addition to the benefits associated with accumulating PIC time, GoJet offers a host of other advantages that are very attractive to pilots. Direct Entry Captain Robert Brown likes GoJet’s competitive five year contract, while Direct Entry Captain Zach Moore likes the extra time at home afforded by long-call reserve.

Plus, GoJet’s small pilot group means that management takes a personal interest in each pilot’s success.  “I couldn’t believe it when the Director of Flight Ops and the Chief Pilot introduced themselves to my training class and shook everyone’s hand,” Robert Brown recalled.

Randy-Bratcher_Brad-Sargent_cockpit
New hire pilots can expect a personal welcome from Director of Flight Operations Randy Bratcher (left), and Chief Pilot Brad Sargent (right).

Direct Entry Captain Jason DuVerny, who left corporate flying to be able to fly a more predictable schedule, has also been impressed with what he’s seen from GoJet’s management, as well as the training program.  “My simulator instructor really went out of his way to ensure that I was equipped for line flying,” he remarked.  “I feel very fortunate to have received such high-level training in this environment.”

DEC-Blog-Post

Total year one compensation for a Direct Entry Captain starts at just over $91,000 a year. Pilots with a current CL-65 or ERJ-170 type rating can earn in excess in $94,000 in total compensation during their first year.  And pilots who take advantage of GoJet’s longevity carryover program can earn even more.

To learn more about GoJet’s Direct Entry Captain program, or to apply online, please click here.

Pilot Recruiter James Douvier Explains What it Takes to be a GoJet Pilot

When Pilot Recruiter Captain James Douvier meets with pilot applicants, he’s looking for more than just technical know-how.  He’s looking for pilots with positive personalities who are going to come to GoJet and make a difference.

james-douvier
Pilot Recruiter Captain James Douvier

Being a great aviator is certainly a requirement to become a GoJet pilot, but there’s more to it than that.  Crews spend a lot of time together, so having an outgoing and positive attitude is important.  James says that during the interview process, he asks himself, “Is this someone that I would want to fly a four-day trip with?”

When James interviews pilots, he’s also looking at what they’ve accomplished outside of the cockpit.  “We’re looking for pilots who are going to do more than just fly their shift, make their money, and go home,” James explains.  “We want to hire people who are going to be involved and engaged in the airline.  If you’ve been involved in your school, community, or at your previous airline, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re going to make a positive impact at GoJet.”

However, the interview process is also about pilot candidates making sure that GoJet is the right fit for them.  That’s why James sets aside a portion of each interview to answer any questions that applicants may have.  One of the most common things that pilot applicants want to know is what their life will be like when they become a GoJet pilot.

In addition to emphasizing the quality of life benefits that GoJet offers, including high pay, minimal reserve time, and fast Captain upgrades, James also tells candidates about GoJet’s unique, family-like culture.  For example, unlike “slam-clickers,” or pilots who stay in their hotel rooms after they finish a day of flying, GoJet crews frequently go out to dinner together or rent a car and sightsee during overnight trips.  “I have friends at other airlines, and the level of camaraderie that you see at GoJet is just different,” he remarks.  “All of our crews are interactive teams who just genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”

When asked if he had any advice for new GoJet pilots, James encouraged them to take advantage of every opportunity to get involved with the company, as it will benefit their careers down the road.  “Many of our pilots aspire to fly for mainline carriers one day, and all airlines, including mainlines, want to hire pilots who have made the effort to progress professionally as much as they can,” he stressed.  “Do as much as you can while you have the opportunity, and it will pay off for you later.”

Professional development opportunities that James suggests include:

  • Becoming a Check Airman
  • Getting involved in the union
  • Offering to be a committee chair, such as for hotels
  • Helping out with recruiting
  • Taking advantage of the Pilot Mentor Program – in addition to earning $5,000 for every pilot you mentor, you’re paying it forward by passing on your wisdom and experience to new pilots

Being a pilot recruiter means that James doesn’t get to fly the line as much as he’d like, but he loves what he does.  “I get to help make people’s dreams come true. Seeing someone’s face light up when they are offered a job as a GoJet First Officer, then seeing that person become a Captain, and then watching them move on to mainline, that’s just really special.”

There’s never been a better time to become a GoJet pilot.  Click here to get started.

Piano Playing GoJet Pilot Delights Passengers at Chicago O’Hare

CA Billy Hock
GoJet Captain Billy Hock, meeting a fan after playing the piano at Chicago O’Hare

The next time you find yourself at Chicago O’Hare, make sure to wander past Gate C17. If you’re lucky, you just might catch GoJet Captain Billy Hock serenading passengers with his piano playing skills.  Captain Hock is a regular feature at C17, where he often unwinds between flights by performing on the piano.

Captain Hock is a lifelong music enthusiast and has been playing the piano since he was a child.  While he envisions a lifelong aviation career for himself, he always makes time for his first love – music.  “I always plan on flying planes professionally, but music is my first passion,” he explains.

A piano playing pilot isn’t something that you see every day, and passengers have been known to share photos and videos of his playing via social media.  Passengers have also reached out to him directly to tell him how much they enjoyed and appreciated his playing.  One post to his Facebook wall says:

Thank you for the Chopin, it was heavenly and made my delay in ORD worth it. Would have loved to dance to it if I was alone. Keep sharing the beauty you see and feel. 

When he’s not flying airplanes or entertaining passengers on the piano, Captain Hock composes and performs his own original piano compositions, which are available on iTunes.  And his musical talents don’t stop at the piano – he also plays saxophone and guitar!

We’re proud that the multi-talented Captain Hock is part of the GoJet family.  We love it when our employees use their creativity to make unique connections with the world around them!

Pilot and Passenger Race to Retrieve Cell Phone Before Departure

We’ve all experienced it at least once – that sinking feeling you get when you realize that you’ve lost your cell phone, with all of your contacts.  That’s exactly the situation that one of our passengers was recently faced with.  After boarding a flight to St. Louis, he realized that he’d left his cell phone, with all of his business contacts, in the terminal.  With just 15 to go minutes before departure, the odds of retrieving his phone before take-off didn’t look good.  That’s when Captain Jacob Sutherland stepped in.

Captain Jacob Sutherland
Superstar pilot, Captain Jacob Sutherland

I wanted to share with you an unbelievable experience I had with one of your Captains and Flight Attendants on a recent flight from New York to St. Louis.   After leaving the gate by shuttle bus and boarding my flight on the tarmac, I that realized I had left my phone in the airport’s Sky Lounge. All 100 of my client contacts for a conference that I was to run in St. Louis were stored in that phone. More importantly, that phone number was the only way that I could be reached over those next four days.

I explained this dilemma to Flight Attendant Melanie McKetchem, and she kindly asked the cockpit if they could help. Captain Jacob Sutherland contacted the terminal to see if it could be retrieved. But with only 15 minutes to departure, it was not possible to get my phone to the plane in time. So, the Captain decided that he and I could take the bus back and race to the lounge to get it.

What played out next must have looked to onlookers like a scene from a movie. Captain Sutherland and I jumped on the shuttle back to the terminal, literally sprinting over the bridge to the lounge. There, my phone was just about to be handed over to security.  My phone was then returned to me, and the Captain and I once again sprinted, this time back through the two terminals to the shuttle bus. Somehow, we were back on the plane in enough time to depart on schedule, and touched down in St. Louis 20 minutes before our expected arrival time.

I have been on hundreds of flights since the 1970s, and this is by far the best experience that I have ever had. If Captain Sutherland is typical of your flight staff, then your company and passengers are in very capable hands. The Captain saved my trip and event with his quick initiative and decision making ability. I thank these two flight personnel for their great efforts on my behalf.

Thanks to Captain Sutherland and the hundreds of other GoJet employees who are out there giving it their all for our passengers, each and every day.  If you’d like to work with truly extraordinary and thoughtful people, click here to check out a list of current openings.