Excerpt from NYCAviation is written by Eric ’œCap’n Aux’ Auxier, who is an airline pilot by day, writer by night, and kid by choice. An A320 captain for a major U.S. airline, he is also a freelance writer, novelist, and blogger (capnaux.com).
I recently experienced one of the greatest and most heart-rending honors a modern airline pilot can have: Captaining a flight that is transporting a fallen soldier to his final resting place.
Escorting the hero was a military honor guard consisting of two of the soldier’s comrades, and two young Marines. Also onboard were the man’s father and a lovely, devastated young woman -girlfriend? Wife? Sister? I never found out. I never learned the soldier’s name, either. Or his rank. Or how or where he died.
But it didn’t matter. Because, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he was ours. He was us.
Coming on the heels, as it was, of the Aurora movie theatre tragedy, this flight was particularly poignant for all passengers and crew as well.
As soon as our preflight duties were finished, I ordered the gate agents to allow the party onboard. They were escorted down to the ramp, where they presided over a short ceremony as the casket was loaded into the forward cargo hold. Simple, precise, and crisp, the military detail saluted the casket then made a sharp about face to march away, reminding me of the Missing Man Formation often flown by jet fighters.
For six hours as we crossed the country, I contemplated my speech. As Captain of the flight, I was expected to say a few words upon arrival. At Top of Descent, I took a deep breath and keyed the PA:
’œLadies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. I’d like you to pay special attention to this announcement. (pause) Today we have the great, great honor of escorting one of our fallen soldiers to his final resting place.
Continue reading Memorial Day: Flying a Fallen Hero on NYCAviation.com
I don’t know if I would fly Turkey Airlines – Original Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | JDLMedia – Photoshop: David Parker Brown
Although our readership has grown quite a bit outside the United States, we still have about half of our readers based in the country. And for those of us in the US, today is Thanksgiving. A day where we get to be thankful for all the positive things in our lives. For all of us at AirlineReporter, we are very thankful that you read our stuff, you engage in the comments, and motivate us to keep on going.
A Happy Thanksgiving for all of you celebrating, and a wonderful Thursday to those who are not!
It’s the time of year airline holiday greetings spread across the globe. – Image: All Nippon Airways
We are in the thick of the holiday travel season right now, and with Christmas fast approaching it is going to get even busier. Traveling at this time of year can be a real challenge. Weather, crowds, high prices, and even-higher load factors can make travel a headache.
When you add delays, the stress of getting away for a vacation, or travel to see family (which can be either cherished or dreaded), things can get rough. We at Airline Reporter wanted to share some of our favorite tips and tips from readers who travel quite often.
I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and safe travels. I couldn’t help but use this photo.
Photo by Bob Garrard Info: N141PM Pilgrim Airlines
Fokker F-27-100 Friendship (cn 10114) A very early Friendship delivered in April, 1959 to Trans Australia Airlines as VH-TFD, Other regns carried include N1036P, and OB-1644. Seen departing DCA in June, 1983.
Bob’s other Pilgrim Airlines pics: Fokker F-28 and De Havilland Canada DHC-6-100 Twin Otter
Special sign on the outside of Alaska Airline’s first Boeing 737-900ER. Image from Alaska.
For my “real” job I am a Career Counselor at a local state university. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is helping veterans transition from the military and college life to the working world. In December I will be presenting at a conference on hiring veterans and highlighting companies that are doing some pretty cool things with veterans. One of those companies is Alaska Airlines (I love when my world’s collide). To celebrate Veteran’s Day this year, Alaska has shared a story, that I wanted to repeat on the blog. To all of those who have served, are serving or are planning to serve — I thank you and hope to be able to assist you in your future career aspirations. Here is Alaska’s story:
In the days leading up to Veteran’s Day, Horizon Air Captain Lawrence Pavlinovic has a number of people to thank, gratitude to express and wisdom to pass along to his two sons. Born to immigrant parents, Pavlinovic not only understands the concept of freedom, he fights for it, and works for a company that generously supports his efforts.
Pavlinovic has worked as a pilot for Horizon Air since 1998, and since that time has experienced several military deployments lasting from one to two years. Each time he’s returned to Horizon, his job was waiting for him.
“It’s hard to describe how that feels, to know that your job will be there when you return from active duty,” says Pavlinovic, who is a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves, working in logistics and specializing as a linguist. “I can serve my country without worrying whether I will have to look for a job when I return home. When you serve in a hostile region, you need to be very focused on your work, and not whether your employer back home may hire somebody else for your job.”
BONUS: More on Alaska Airlines, veterans and fallen soldiers
Greg Smith, Alaska Airlines project manager with the Project Management Office, recently returned from three weeks of military training. He is grateful that his colleagues filled in while he was away, and thankful to a company that supports his efforts by keeping his job open for him. During his last deployment to Afghanistan, Smith, who worked for Verizon Communications at the time, returned stateside to discover his job was gone when the telecommunications giant sold off certain segments of the company. “My job was basically eliminated,” says Smith, an Army Reserves major working in Afghanistan as a logistician. “It’s very stressful when that happens, and it happens more often than you know.”
Under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, reservists and National Guard members who are called to leave their jobs to perform active duty are given rights to re-employment in their civilian jobs, according to Laura Harlos, Alaska Air Group’s manager of compliance and diversity programs. Additionally, employees returning from active duty are entitled to all rights, benefits and seniority they would have received had they never left.
Surprisingly, despite the law, some employers are less enthusiastic about employees leaving to serve their country, according to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Some employers look for ways to circumvent the law, or find loopholes. Companies can downsize, lay off employees or sell the business to another company and returning soldiers often fall through the cracks.
Not at Alaska Air Group. The company has won several awards from the ESGR in the past few years for supporting employees deployed to war or to training.
iPhone photo I was able to take of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 and the fallen soldier baggage cart at the airline’s maintenance facility in Seattle during a special Veteran’s event in November 2011.
“We value their service we don’t consider it a burden, we consider it a valuable asset,” says Scott Lautman, Alaska Air Group’s human resources manager for maintenance, engineering and safety. “Along with the Alaska Spirit, enthusiastic support of our reservists has become part of our DNA.”
For Pavlinovic, the Air Group’s support of his military service comes to mind when he talks to his sons, age 14 and 17, about how fortunate they are to be Americans. A proud Croatian American, Pavlinovic’s parents came from Croatia and Pavlinovic, who was born in Seattle, spent many years living with his grandparents in the “old country.”
“I want my boys to understand how fortunate they are to have opportunities, to have the support of a country and to have freedom,” says Pavlinovic. “Many in the world don’t have that freedom and some who have it take it for granted. Not at my house.”
Pavlinovic joined the military to pay back his country for giving his parents a home and giving his father the opportunity to work to support his family. His father worked for Pan Am at the ticket counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for many years, and Pavlinovic always wanted to be a pilot. Wearing corrective lenses, the Seattle native could not be a pilot in the military, so he became a linguist instead. He saved his money and paid for flying lessons so he could become a commercial pilot.
In January of 2010, Pavlinovic was deployed to England to work for the Joint Analysis Center for European Command. He worked closely with LaMar Haugaard, chief pilot for Horizon Air, to schedule the time off, and upon return, to enroll in ground school for any updates he might have missed. Pavlinovic returned to Horizon in October of 2011.
“I can’t thank the company enough for their support,” Pavlinovic says. “I really missed flying and when I contacted Horizon to tell them my deployment was finished, they said to come on home.”
Both Pavlinovic and Smith say there are certain observances throughout the year when a thank you doesn’t seem adequate.
“Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day those are the times when you reflect on what you are doing, and those around you that support what you are doing,” says Smith. “It’s a time when I stand a little taller, and allow myself to feel prideç†”f my service, of my employer and of my country.”