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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Unique Youth Exchange Program for Airline Families Fosters Travel and Friendship

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One of the best things about working in the airline industry is the travel benefits.  GoJet employees are fortunate to have a wide range of affordable air fare options available to them, ranging from free domestic travel, to heavily discounted international travel.  As a result, GoJet employees tend to travel a lot, and their children often develop a love for travel at a young age.  When the children of GoJet employees grow into teenagers afflicted by wanderlust, they can spend up to two weeks in another country as part of a special program for airline families called the International Youth Exchange.

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The International Youth Exchange pairs up teens from airline families in different countries and gives them each the opportunity to spend two weeks with the family they are matched with.  After a participant spends two weeks with a host family, they return home, and the teen they were matched with stays with them for two weeks.

Participants are matched based on similarities in age, gender, and interests, as well as where they would like to visit.  Available locations include the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia.  After the teens are matched and dates are decided, the participants communicate with one another so that they can get to know each other, as well as decide what activities they would like to do during their summer exchange.

The International Youth Exchange is the brainchild of Camille Wheeler, a retired Northwest Airlines employee, and the mother of Aaron Wheeler, a regional airline Captain.  Camille is the mother of four, and international travel for a family of six can be expensive, even with pass benefits.  On the International Youth Exchange website, Camille explains that the program was born from her desire for her children to be able to affordably travel abroad, learn different languages, and experience new cultures.  Aaron says that his mom first got the idea for the program when his family took a trip to France when he was younger.  She was looking for different options to avoid hotel costs, and began making connections with other airline families abroad.

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Inaugural Youth Exchange Participant, Captain Aaron Wheeler

Camille soon realized that there were other airline families all over the world who were interested in affordable international travel opportunities for their children.  The program slowly began to take shape.  Teens could fly overseas using their parents’ pass privileges, and stay for free for two weeks with an airline host family.  Then the teens would switch, and a teen from host family could visit the other teen’s home during a separate two week visit.

In 1994, Camille connected with a Swiss Air gate agent in Geneva, Switzerland, and young Aaron became the first participant in the International Youth Exchange program.  He was matched with  a Swiss teen, Greg Cunnet, who was around the same age, and shared his interests. “When Greg came to visit, we just hung out, played baseball and biked,” Aaron recalls. When Aaron and Greg first met, Greg was only beginning to learn English. “Since he grew up traveling in airplanes, he would always read the safety instructions. In fact, the first time that we met, all he could say in English was, ‘Fast-ten-seat-belt.'”

After Greg stayed with his family, Aaron visited Geneva and stayed with Greg’s family. Aaron recalls mostly doing things that were familiar to him from back home.

“We went swimming, biked around town, and even played Monopoly.Even a young age, I was struck by how we had more in common than not, even though we lived so far apart.”

Aaron and Greg continued to visit each other for 7 years through the program, and are still friends.  “We still visit each other when we can,” Aaron said.   “I even went to his wedding about a year and a half ago.”

The International Youth Exchange has come a long way from its one inaugural participant in 1994.  It has since placed over 6,000 students in exchanges.  “In 1994,” jokes Aaron, “we just had a single fax machine running twenty-four-seven. We would get applications from Europe in the middle of the night!  But now, applicants can apply online.”

Aaron continues to help his mother with the program, who is now devoted to it full-time. “I actually matched a young boy from Minneapolis,” recalls Aaron, “and his mom happened to be my gate agent for a while. Every couple of months, we would bump into each other, and she would say how much her son enjoyed the experience.”  He recounts another story from years ago, in which a young person was matched up with a family in Seattle.  The father of the family flew for an airline in the area.  The program participant loved Seattle so much, that years later, he got in touch with the father and ended up working for that same airline.

Aaron’s experiences with the International Youth Exchange have stayed with him through the years, and he encourages other airline families to take advantage of the opportunities for travel and friendship that the program offers.

“I truly believe that there is no better way to experience another country than with someone your own age,” he says.

The International Youth Exchange is currently accepting applications for summer 2017 exchanges.  Put those travel benefits to work, and give your teenager a summer they’ll never forget.  Download the program flyer here or visit the International Youth Exchange website to learn more and apply online.

Our Favorite Blog Posts of 2016 Revisited

With the year winding down, we thought that it would be the perfect time to put together a compilation of some of our favorite blog posts of 2016.  Here’s a sample of what our employees have been up to this year.

Piano Playing PIlot Delights Passengers at Chicago O’Hare

Captain Billy Hock isn’t just a talented pilot.  He’s also a musician and songwriter who spends layovers at O’hare playing the piano for passengers.

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

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

In one of our most viewed posts of the year, pilot recruiter Captain James Douvier explains that there’s more to being a GoJet pilot than just being a great aviator.  James is looking for pilots who are going to come to GoJet and make a difference.

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Pilot Recruiter Captain James Douvier

Maintenance Control: The Unseen Face of Tech Ops

The majority of our passengers have most likely never heard the term “Maintenance Control.”  However, the safety and timeliness of our flights depends on this important group of GoJet employees.  This department is critical to keeping our airplanes safe, our flights on schedule, and our passengers happy.

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Maintenance Controller Steven Perez

Summer Interns Contribute to the Operation in Big Ways

During the summer of 2016, three talented young interns contributed to the operation in big ways.  Aviation students Morgan Hunlen, Jade Lubinski, and Alex Dupre all took full advantage of the opportunity to move their studies beyond the classroom, and had an abundance of new knowledge when they returned to school in the fall.

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Our summer interns getting a rare, behind-the-scenes tour of the control tower at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

GoJet Flight Attendant Wins First Runner Up in the Miss North Carolina Pageant

Our employees do some truly astounding things in their free time.  Take GoJet flight attendant Juanette Roache – when she’s not providing stellar customer service at 37,000 feet, she regularly volunteers at her local soup kitchen and homeless shelter, as well as mentors children through the Boys and Girls Club.  Her community service led to an opportunity this spring to compete in the 20160 Mrs. North Carolina pageant, where she was named the first runner up and received the People’s Choice Award.

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GoJet Flight Attendant Juannette Roache

We have no doubt that our employees will continue to impress us next year.  We can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.  Happy New Year!

Making Every Flight Count

When it comes to performance, every flight matters.  Earlier this year, our code share partner Delta Air Lines challenged us to “Make Every Flight Count” and make 2016 our best performance year yet.  It’s a challenge that we took very seriously and were all too happy to accept.

With “Making Every Flight Count” as our mantra, we increased our focus across all performance categories, while paying special attention to some key areas, including on-time departures, inflight service and communication from the flight deck.

All that hard work is delivering results – today Delta Air Lines leadership was on-site at corporate headquarters to congratulate our employees on our recent performance numbers!  Throughout the day, Delta and GoJet leadership visited the maintenance hangar, chatted with crews in recurrent classes, and dropped by every GoJet department to express their appreciation for everything this team has accomplished this year.

Summer Interns Contribute in Big Ways

 

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Our summer interns getting a rare, behind-the-scenes tour of the control tower at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

With the summer drawing to a close, we’ll soon be saying goodbye to three talented young interns who have been contributing to the operation in big ways.  Aviation students Morgan Hunlen, Jade Lubinski, and Alex Dupre all took full advantage of the opportunity to move their studies beyond the classroom, and will have an abundance of new knowledge when they leave.

Morgan, a recent Aeronautical Sciences graduate from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, says that she didn’t know what to expect going into the internship, but she found herself hard at work less than a week in.  Over the course of the summer, she was immersed in a wide variety of projects, including auditing crew files and approach plates, preparing materials for new hire classes, and assisting with an ambitious project to completely revamp GoJet’s current PowerPoint-based training for new hire pilots into modern and interactive computer-based learning programs.

“I’ve learned a lot, and have done things that I wouldn’t have imagined I would be doing,” says Morgan.  “Everything I do feels like a contribution to the company.  Even if it’s filing documents, you know that it’s all valid work, and that everything has to be done.”

Morgan said that one of the things that stood out to her the most during her time at GoJet was the company’s commitment to diversity.  “I’m looking for a diverse and accepting workplace where I can succeed while being myself,” she remarked, “and I get that feeling of community with GoJet.”

Jade, a sophomore at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, decided to intern with GoJet because she liked the idea of working for a regional airline first, before jumping in with one of the major airlines.  She describes her internship as “eye-opening,” and has been impressed by the exposure she’s had to different areas of the airline.  “This internship has shown me how so many different departments operate, and I don’t think that I would have had such a well-rounded an experience with a different company,” she said.

Jade spent the majority of her summer with our Flight Operations team and provided major assistance to the Flight Ops Training Coordinator and the St. Louis Base Manager.  Jade’s projects this summer included auditing the pilot seniority list, challenging delay codes, administering the Pilot Referral & Mentor programs, and planning a crew appreciation breakfast.

Alex, who is going into his senior year at Jacksonville University, spent his summer working in Records, and compared the atmosphere at GoJet to that of a family-type business.  “With each project assigned to me, I learned a lot, and I feel like I’m contributing as much to GoJet as if I were a full-time employee,” he said.

One of Alex’s biggest project this summer was helping write a manual for new hires in Crew Records.  He also helped with pilot audits, shadowed different departments, and sat in on Flight Ops meetings.

 

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Not your normal internship:   The interns get a behind the scenes look at what happens to an aircraft during a heavy check inspection.

All three interns agree that the opportunity to be a part of an airline is an experience that just can’t be duplicated in a classroom.

“There are just some things that you can’t teach in a classroom; you have to actually be there. I get to be there with GoJet,” Jade remarked.  She went on to say, “You don’t really get to see how an airline operates while you’re in school. Classes are great for the technical side of piloting, like maneuvers and planning, but as an intern, you get to see how the process actually works. This helps you understand what your life will be like.”

Alex found that there’s no substitute for the hands-on experience that a quality internship can provide.  “I honestly feel that I’ve learned more in a few weeks as an intern than I have in some of my classes,” he admitted.  Morgan agrees.  “My classes were helpful,” she says, “but GoJet’s environment builds on what I’ve learned. I now know that I don’t just have a foot in the door, but a more well-rounded experience, that isn’t necessarily laser-focused.”

All three interns recommend this program for any aviation student looking for a meaningful professional experience to complement their education.

“Interning with GoJet will increase your knowledge of the airline industry,” says Jade. “Most larger company internships just focus on either pilots or Flight Ops. But here, you get to move around the whole company, all the while working alongside different people.”

“Interning for a regional airline is the way to go, in my opinion,” Alex added. “You’ll be able to do more things that you want to do, spend more time in different departments, do more hands-on work, build stronger relationships with co-workers, and most importantly, have fun.”

Morgan stressed that one of the biggest benefits of the internship is that it gives students the opportunity to make a real impact.  “I am grateful that I’ve been able to participate in so many assignments that were not just busy work, but essential to the smooth operation of the airline as a whole,” she said.  ” I definitely feel like I’ve been given a real and substantial opportunity at GoJet to not only broaden my horizons but live up to the standards expected of every great employee here, and it’s been nothing but an amazing experience.”

It’s never to early to start thinking about next year!  If you’re an aviation student and would like to be considered for next year’s program, contact Steve Paduchak at Steven.Paduchak@gojetairlines.com.

Employee Spotlight: Meet Maintenance Fleet Manager Quinn Sasser

At GoJet, our top priority is providing a safe and quality travel experience.  Central to that mission is Maintenance Fleet Manager, Timothy “Quinn” Sasser.  Quinn, who has held his position since 2009, is responsible for ensuring that any modifications made to our aircraft meet our high safety and quality standards.  “Any modification to our aircraft, whether a preventative enhancement, or a feature detail, goes through my desk,” explains Quinn.

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GoJet Airlines Maintenance Engineering Fleet Manager Timothy “Quinn” Sasser

Some of Quinn’s most recent modification projects include the installation of wi-fi on our fleet of CRJ700/900 aircraft, as well as the converting the CRJ700s in our Delta fleet from 65 seats to 69 seats.  “The key to adding seats is not compromising passenger comfort,” he remarked.  “We move the lavatory farther back in the aircraft, so that the extra seats don’t equate to a loss of legroom.”

Quinn’s aviation career started in 1994, when Trans States Airlines hired him as a Technical Analyst right after he finished college at Western Kentucky University.  He recalls, “When I was a Tech Analyst, I was looking for, and finding problems and issues. Now I’m actually fixing problems.”

Quinn’s position requires him to travel all over North America, but his favorite place to travel for work is Montreal, Quebec.  “I love going to the downtown area. While you’re there, you can see both the really old buildings, and the new skyscrapers. It’s a really blossoming city that still has a lot of history.” Quinn says that his favorite part of Montreal are the restaurants. “I feel like I’ve been there enough now that I know where the most unique ones are.”

When he’s not traveling for work or working to maintain GoJet’s fleet of aircraft, he and his wife, Holly, stay busy with their two teenagers who are in high school. “Between keeping up with their school sports, and playing tennis and running myself, there are a lot of sports in my life when I’m not on the clock.” Apart from sports, Quinn is also a music fan and frequently attends bluegrass festivals.

Quinn was born in Australia, where his parents were working at the time. His family then moved to Alabama, where he grew up. After college in Kentucky and Florida, he settled down in St. Louis, after meeting his wife, a St. Louis native.  “I like St. Louis,” he says, “I think that we’ll be staying here for many more years to come.”

Quinn is one of the many unique and talented individuals that make up our GoJet family. To learn more about how you can join our team of aviation professionals, please click here.