8 Things to Look for in a Pilot Contract

Congratulations! The runway is in sight, and you’ve built enough hours to start seriously considering what regional to fly for as a First Officer. You’ve probably been wondering, which regional airline is the best? “Best” is relative. It’s easy to get caught up in hourly pay or base locations and not consider all of the other elements of a pilot contract that will impact your quality of life. What’s “best” depends on what matters to you and how flying for that airline will complement your life.

It’s vital to do some research and understand the rules of the pilot contract before joining a regional airline. While some regional airlines have similar rules, all of the contracts are different. Here are some items to look for before you make your big decision.

LOOKING BEYOND BLOCK HOUR RATE: HOW DO YOU GET PAID?

Our aircraft at Washington Dulles International Airport.

What’s the highest paying regional airline? The answer isn’t as simple as block hour pay. Some regional airlines have impressive hourly rates until you realize all of the time you’re not being paid for. The clock tracking a pilot’s hourly pay starts when the passenger door closes prior to takeoff and stops when the door opens for any reason, like a weather delay, gate return, or arriving at your destination. If your flight is delayed due to weather and you’re sitting in the terminal or on the aircraft with the door open, you’re not being paid a block hour rate. It’s essential to look at the rest of the contract and understand how you are paid.

Air Wisconsin, unlike other regionals, has Duty and Trip Rigs (regulations) in place that ensure pilots are paid more for their time and that time is used more efficiently. We calculate pilot pay three ways—by block hour, Duty Rigs, and Trip Rigs—and you get paid the highest number.

Duty Rigs have a 2:1 guarantee. Let’s say your plane experiences a mechanical issue, and you’re sitting for 4 hours waiting for the plane to be fixed. Under Air Wisconsin’s Duty Rigs, you’ll be paid for at least 2 hours of your regular rate. If you fly for a regional without Duty Rigs, you aren’t compensated for that time.

Trip Rigs work the same way with a 4:1 guarantee. For example, if you spend 85 hours away from your base during your 4 day trip, you’ll be paid for at least 21.5 hours of your hourly rate.

Duty and Trip Rigs incentivize the company to schedule trips more efficiently, meaning you’re making the most out of your time away from home. You’ll sit less, so you can build flight hours faster. When you do sit due to weather, maintenance, or another issue, you’re still being compensated for that time. 

INCENTIVES: WHAT ARE YOU PAID FOR ADDITIONAL FLYING?

If you want to build hours quickly by picking up trips on your days off, look for a contract that offers extra hourly pay as an incentive. All additional flying at Air Wisconsin is paid at 150% or 200%. The exact amount is determined by the operational resources team based on how critical the trip is to the operation. In some situations, a First Officer or Captain may be given a junior man assignment to cover a critical trip, which is always paid at 200%.

CHECK THE COMMUTER CLAUSE: WHERE DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?

N464AW pushing back at Washington Dulles International Airport.

As a pilot, you’ll have a few different crew bases, aka domiciles, throughout your career, especially if you go onto a mainline carrier. A big question pilots ask themselves is, do I move to the base or commute? It’s entirely up to you since everyone’s situation is different. If you have a family, moving may be less desirable. You might also really love your community. If commuting is on the table for you, be sure to check out the commuter clause for any airline whose wings you want to wear.

Air Wisconsin, for example, has a generous, straightforward commuting clause. We say, live where you want. Give yourself two chances to make your show time, which is when you’re supposed to report for duty. If you can’t make it because flights are canceled, delayed, or full, so you can’t deadhead or fly standby, there’s no strike against you. More than likely, our crew schedulers will buy a ticket to get you where you need to be in our operation.    

MAKING THE MOST OUT OF VACATION

Who doesn’t love time off to recuperate and use those travel privileges to explore the world? Always check an airline’s pilot contract to see how vacations are handled. Air Wisconsin has an exciting rule in the contract called trip touching

Our pilots bid for their primary and secondary vacations. When the schedule comes out, if a trip touches any part of your primary vacation, the trip is automatically dropped, and you’re paid in full for the dropped trip. It’s an easy way to turn 7 days off into 21 days off or more!

For secondary vacations, if a trip touches the first day of your vacation, you will not be required to show until noon the following day at the earliest. This gives you more time to report to your domicile. If a trip touches the last day of your secondary vacation, then you will be released no later than noon the day before your first vacation day.

Captain Chris getting ready for the next flight.

DO THEY HAVE DUAL QUALIFICATION?

Dual qualification is something you hope not to see in your pilot contract and something Air Wisconsin does not do. When some regionals upgrade Captains, they still keep those pilots qualified as First Officers as well. This means those airlines can fly their pilots as First Officers unless they need them in the left seat. An airline may promise to offer an “immediate upgrade” and then require those “Captains” to remain in the right seat unless they are needed in the left. This means you could swap seats mid-trip or spend a day or months in the right seat even though you’re a “Captain.”

At Air Wisconsin, dual qualification is strictly prohibited according to the contract. Captains are upgraded according to seniority and will remain a Captain unless downgrades occur. Downgrades are rare at Air Wisconsin and have only happened when the industry was under extreme duress.

WHEN CAN YOU EXPECT PAY INCREASES?

In addition to yearly longevity pay increases, Air Wisconsin has automatic annual hourly pay increases of 1.5% every October as part of our pilot contract. Additionally, our pilots have seen consistent pay increases every time a new tentative agreement is ratified.

SITS: DO YOU GET A DAY ROOM?

When considering a regional airline, talk to pilots about how many block hours they actually fly and how long they sit, which means how much time they have between flights. It’ll give you a good idea of how much money you’ll make as a pilot for that airline. Of course, Air Wisconsin pilots are paid for more of their time on their road, so keep that in mind.

Some regional airlines offer day rooms, meaning the airline will purchase a hotel room for you if your sit is longer than a certain amount of time. For Air Wisconsin, a crew scheduler will get you a day room for any sit longer than 4.5 hours.

PARTNERSHIPS: WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE CAREER GOAL?

N431AW arriving at Gate 4 at Appleton International Airport.

Many pilots consider regionals to be a stepping stone to mainline carriers, and some regionals have pipelines set up to those big names. For example, Air Wisconsin partners with United Airlines in their Aviate program, the most direct and secure path to a United flight deck. Unlike other pipelines, you’re not locked in. You can apply to other carriers if your desires change down the line. You’re also not guaranteed a spot like you are in a “flow” program. Under Aviate, you still need to interview with United and have a record they find acceptable. However, you could get to United faster versus a flow program to another mainline carrier.

Also, Air Wisconsin has plenty of pilots who choose to spend their entire career at the company until they retire at 65. This group of experienced individuals is extremely valuable to the pilot culture and a testament to the quality of life as a pilot at Air Wisconsin.

GO WITH YOUR GUT

After you do your research and talk to pilots who fly for the airline you’re considering, you’ll know what’s best for you. If you still have questions, reach out to the recruiting team.

You can get in touch with our team at pilotrecruiting@airwis.com. We’d love to answer your questions. Ready to apply? Submit your application today on Airline Apps or www.airwis.com/careers.

6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Flight School

Pilots have many different career options. You can operate cargo flights, become a full-time instructor, choose a military career, fly helicopters or private jets, become a commercial pilot, etc. Your ultimate career goals will help you decide which flight school fits your needs, and it begins with choosing the type of program you want.

1.) Part 61 vs. Part 141 Flight Training

When choosing a flight school, two different types of programs are available. You can build hours in a Part 61 or Part 141 program. Both have their advantages and respective minimum standards for training set by Federal Aviation Regulations.

Part 61 programs are more informal, and your local flight school likely falls into this category. This path is suited to part-time students. You have more control over your flight instructor; although, choices may be limited at smaller schools. You may also need more flight hours to accomplish your career goal.

If you’re looking to earn a degree in a structured environment, check out Part 141 programs. The FAA regularly audits schools in this group. Courses are also FAA-approved, and the school must meet a minimum threshold for pass rates. Larger schools like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University or Western Michigan University are more likely to fall into this category; however, they may also offer a Part 61 program.

Captain Avreet Randhawa, a former instructor, shared her advice and said, “Each student has different training preferences, and these programs can help [you] choose the pace [you] want to work at. Also, it is good to check the fleet type. It can make a difference when [you] are transitioning to jets.”

Depending on your career goals, you may opt for one path over another. We covered this topic in our blog “Choosing Your Path to Becoming a Commercial Pilot.” It’s worth a read if you need more insight. Rest assured, you can become a commercial pilot regardless of which program you choose. Your requirements will just be different.

Captain Avreet Randhawa earned her commercial pilot’s license at Phoenix East Aviation, where she also instructed.

2.) Cost

Unfortunately, becoming a pilot isn’t cheap. According to the pilots we surveyed on Twitter, the main factor to consider when choosing a flight school was a tie between cost and location.

3.) Location

Some student pilots choose schools in warmer locations to fly more throughout the year and complete their FAA required hours faster. If you’re a part-time student, building hours at the local flight school is exceptionally convenient. Perhaps you want a degree and choose a school near family or friends. Once you talk to other pilots about their journeys, you’ll hear many different stories. As a pilot, you’re essentially reading a choose your adventure book. Build the path that’s right for you.

4.) Partnerships

While researching flight schools, you’ll realize that some schools and universities have affiliations with different regional or mainline carriers. Choosing a school with a pathway that lands you at the airline of your dreams is appealing. Some people find it comforting to have a blueprint for their pilot journey. That being said, note that some pathways require a contract while others do not.

Air Wisconsin’s Airman Trainee program was an example of the latter. We haven’t made any announcements yet, but we plan to bring an enhanced version of this program back, allowing student pilots a quicker path to flying for us.

If you’d love to fly for United one day, check out the Aviate program. United teams with various schools and regional airline partners, like Air Wisconsin Airlines, offering the fastest route to the United flight deck. You aren’t required to sign a contract if you enroll in the Aviate program and can apply to other airlines. Other mainline carriers have pathways too.

5.) Quality of the Instructors

Learning to fly in various types of conditions is fun and stressful. Quality instruction is critical. Once you learn bad habits, it’s difficult to unlearn them. Finding an instructor or instructors you connect with makes a difference and leads to a more pleasant experience.

If you can attend an open house or meet the CFIs (Certified Flight Instructors), go. Ask about training styles and see how they fit with your learning style. You can also learn a lot by talking to former students.

6.) Reputation and the Experiences of Others

Our Assistant Chief Pilot Doug McEnerney highly suggests talking to current students or alumni at any school you’re interested in attending. “When choosing a flight school, try to reach out to alumni or current students and hear what they have to say about their experience with the program. If you find that they generally have positive things to say and you like talking with people who went/go there, it’s probably a good fit!”

It’s easier than you think to get this feedback. Facebook has numerous groups where pilots share advice. Join one and pose the question. You can check out pilot mentorship programs like Professional Pilots of Tomorrow or reach out to active pilots on social media. Ask around; you may have a fellow aviation fan who knows someone who went to the school you’re considering. The flight school itself is also a resource. Ask for names of current or past students that you can talk to about their experience.

Build Your Path

As you talk to other pilots, you’ll hear lots of advice. What matters to one person may not be the most important factor to consider in your eyes. If you do the research and listen to your gut, you’ll make the right decision.

The Top 12 Essential Aviation Acronyms, According to Pilots of Instagram

If anything is true in aviation, it’s that you’ll be continuously learning acronyms throughout your career. If you’re just starting in the industry, be forewarned, and don’t be overwhelmed. Natural curiosity will guide you; ask when you hear one you don’t know.

We polled our community of fans on Instagram to identify what they consider the essential acronyms in aviation, and many pilots responded. You’ll undoubtedly notice some important ones missing because there are so many, but consider this a place to start.

*Some acronyms have multiple popular interpretations for some letters, but the intent is the same. Depending on your instructors or where you did your research, you may notice some differences on this list.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

PILOT SAFETY

Aviation is one of the most regulated industries in the world, so it’s no surprise you’ll learn acronyms that revolve around safety, starting with you. Before boarding any aircraft to fly, do a self-assessment and make sure you’re in the right headspace. If you are not 100% ready to fly, don’t. These acronyms are most commonly associated with pilots, but IMSAFE is helpful for any safety-sensitive position.

IMSAFE
I – Illness
M – Medication
S – Stress
A – Alcohol
F – Fatigue
E – Emotions/Eating

PAVE
P – Pilot
A – Aircraft
V – enVironment
E – External Pressures

BEFORE FLIGHT

Many aviation acronyms are checklists. These are just a few that you’ll repeat all the time.

ARROW – Make sure you have all required documents. Sometimes instructors teach AROW, without Radio Station License.
A – Airworthiness Certificate
R – Radio Station License
R – Registration Certificate
O – Operation Limitations
W – Weight and Balance

AVIATES – Always verify the airworthiness of an aircraft, and make sure all required maintenance is completed and up-to-date.
A – Annual Check
V – VORs
1 – 100 Hour Check
A – Altimeter/Pitot Static
T – Transponder
E – Emergency Location Transmitter
S – Static Inspection

NWKRAFT – Prepare for each flight by having all of the relevant information.
N – NOTAMs (A NOTAM is a notice with essential information about flight operations.)
W – Weather
K – Known Air Traffic Control (ATC) Delays
R – Runway Lengths
A – Alternate Airport
F – Fuel
T – Takeoff and Landing Distances

ATOMATOFLAMES – This checklist covers the equipment required for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) during the day.
A – Altimeter
T – Tachometer
O – Oil Pressure Gauge
M – Magnetic Compass
A – Airspeed Indicator
T – Temperature Gauge
O – Oil Temperature Gauge
E – Emergency Location Transmitter
F – Fuel Gauge
L – Landing Gear Extension Lights
A – Anti-Collision Lights
M – Manifold Pressure Gauge
E – ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter)
S – Seatbelts

FLAPS – Verify your equipment required for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) during the night.
F – Fuses
L – Landing Light
A – Anti-Collision Lights
P – Position lights
S – Source of power

GRABCARD – You’ll remember the minimum equipment required under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) using this acronym.
G – Generator or Alternator
R – Radio/Navigation Appropriate For Flight
A – Attitude Indicator
B – Ball (Inclinometer)
C – Clock
A – Altimeter
R – Rate of Turn Indicator
D – Directional Gyro

Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

DURING FLIGHT

Communication is essential when on the ground and especially when in the air. Air Wisconsin makes it a point to teach pilots how to communicate with each other in the cockpit, disagree and have a productive conversation, and properly communicate with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower during training. Pilots must also be tuned in and engaged. You’ll hear these acronyms often.

ANC

A – Aviate

N – Navigate

C – Communicate

THE 5 Ts – The pilot who suggested this acronym admitted he never thought much of it as a student, but as a CFII, he can’t remind students enough.

T– Turn

T – Time

T – Twist

T – Throttle

T – Talk

The 3 Ps

P – Perceive

P – Process

P – Perform

DECIDE

D – Detect

E – Estimate

C – Choose

I – Identify

D – Do

E – Evaluate

BONUS

We wanted to include one more essential acronym—SAFETY. Always brief your passengers, if any are aboard. If you choose to become a commercial pilot, the Inflight announcement will cover most of the items listed below. However, if your pilot journey includes flying a helicopter, private charters, teaching, operating discovery flights, taking friends and family up for a ride, etc., it’ll be your responsibility.

SAFETY

S – Seat Belts

A – Air Ventilation

F – Fire Extinguisher

E – Emergency Procedure

T – Traffic

Y – “Your Questions”

What do you think is the most crucial acronym in aviation? If it’s not on our list, comment below to add it and help out future aviators reading this blog. As a bonus, we’ve compiled resources below worth checking out if you want to learn more acronyms or common industry abbreviations.

RESOURCES

FAA: Airport and Facility Codes

FAA: Acronyms and Abbreviations

AOPA – The ABCs of Aviation

Check us out on Instagram!

Virtual Aviation-Themed Tours

We’ve all been searching for fun things to do during the pandemic, especially this winter. If you haven’t checked out virtual tours, it’s time. You can virtually visit The Louvre, The Great Wall, zoos, aquariums, rain forests, and countless places. Forbes put together their list of the 15 best virtual tours HERE. Of course, if your heart is set on aviation and aerospace, look no further.

There are many free aviation virtual tours out there and even some paid ones. Here are some of the free options options we enjoyed.

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash taken at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

You can take a virtual tour of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Hover your mouse over the screen, and white arrows will appear on the ground telling you where you can go. You’ll see many different types of aircraft and spacecraft in the hangar.

You can also tour the National Mall Building, but unfortunately, this experience doesn’t include detailed information on the exhibits, and the displays are difficult to read.

It’s also worth noting that the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum frequently hosts events on Facebook and goes live to show off artifacts or discuss various topics.

Naval Aviation Museum

You can “walk the museum” and information icons (i) pull up detailed information on the exhibit and featured items. White arrows show you where you can go as you move throughout the museum.

Photo by Nicholas Vassios on Unsplash at the EAA Museum.

EAA

As you would expect, EAA has many, many virtual tours featuring historic aircraft including a replica of the Wright Brothers 1911 Flyer Model B. You can enjoy the scenic trip through the Eagle Hangar or jump to popular aircraft. Scroll down the landing page to see your options.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

Take a self-guided 360-degree tour of the museum. Blue arrows let you know which directions you can go. You’ll also see suggested areas of the museum across the bottom of the screen, allowing you to jump to a certain section. You can also zoom in and get a better look at displays or read the text. We wish all virtual museum experiences had this capability!

Museum of Flight

Take 360-degree tours of well-known aircraft from the comfort of your home, hotel, or wherever you might be. You can also “walk” inside a NASA Full Fuselage Trainer.

Photo by Simon Fitall on Unsplash.

Cockpit 360 App

Want to check out cockpits? This app is free and worth trying. It’s available on iOS and Android.

Have a favorite virtual aviation-themed tour that isn’t on our list? Add it in the comments. We’d love to hear about it. Happy exploring!

Tips to Be Successful in Pilot Training

Our team at Air Wisconsin is as invested in your pilot career as you are. We want to set you up for success as a Part 121 pilot. Our thorough training program gives you the foundational tools you will use throughout your professional career. Instructors take you step by step through the training process as they tailor their teaching method to you as an individual. Our team will go out of their way to help you, but you also have to do the work and meet us half way. Here are some tips from our lead instructors on things you can do to help yourself be successful in training.

Use Your Apps

Every new pilot is given an iPad with apps to help you practice important tasks. Many of our applications are developed in-house at Air Wisconsin. The “Button Trainer” is a digital replica of our aircraft cockpit that is available to pilots. This app allows you to explore the cockpit and learn the functionality of all the buttons. This a great tool to use to prepare for your check ride!

The ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) Simulator lets you familiarize yourself while navigating through the system, sending and receiving messages, and pushing buttons that respond to your touch and request. 

You also have access to all of Air Wisconsin’s applicable navigation and approach tools on your iPad.

Practice CRM

The importance of communication and team work cannot be overstated. Crew Resource Management (CRM) is a technique where authority can be respectfully questioned when a First Officer disagrees with a Captain. Practice this technique in small group study sessions in person or even on the phone. 

Prepare for the Day

Taking some time to look over the lesson before you walk into the classroom puts you at an advantage. You’ll be ready to ask questions to help you better understand the material.

Ask Questions

If you’re unclear about something, ask a question. If you’re still not sure, ask a follow up. The lead instructors agree, you cannot ask too many questions.

Create a Study Aid

Flashcards can be a very useful tool to help you during initial training and even during continuing qualification events. You can practice by yourself or with a classmate.

Study Daily

Our training footprint is designed with little lag time in between classes to keep information fresh in your mind and your skills sharp. Take time to study every day, especially if you have time off at home.

We have also seen time and time again that classes who study together have a higher success rate overall. Take advantage of the conference room your hotel gives to Air Wisconsin pilots in training. Whether your study group is made up of a few people or your entire class, this space is available to you.

As you can see from this photo taken by Captain Trever, you have an excellent view of the dashboard and skyline when jumpseating.

Jumpseat

As a new hire pilot, you can seize the opportunity to jumpseat and see Air Wisconsin pilots in action. Ask your instructor for more information.

Listen to Live ATC

Anyone can listen to live Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications online at www.liveatc.net. This website is run by volunteers, so you may not be able to find a feed for every airport, but you likely will for hubs. You can learn a lot by listening.

Final Thoughts

We want every pilot to thrive at Air Wisconsin. We think of your journey through training as a ladder. Our instructors are right there with you for each step.

Questions? Talk to a recruiter at pilotrecruiting@airwis.com or learn more about flying for us at www.airwis.com/pilots.

Choosing Your Path to Become a Commercial Pilot

Becoming a commercial pilot is a fun, exciting journey and a long one that will require you to make some decisions fairly early on in the process. Ultimately, your goal is to meet minimum qualifications before you can fly for a commercial airline, but some pilots need more hours and some need less. A handful of factors will determine which path you are on.

Do You Want a Degree?

Whether or not you graduate with a degree from an approved, collegiate-based aviation program, you can be a commercial pilot. Pilots who do not have a degree need to have 1,500 hours total time before flying for a commercial airline and must be at least 23 years old. These requirements are for an unrestricted Airline Pilot Transport (ATP) certificate.

Several factors may allow a pilot to start flying sooner and qualify for a Restricted Airline Pilot Transport certificate (R-ATP). Pilots who have their associate’s degree from an approved program with an aviation major can get their R-ATP with 1,250 hours, and those with their bachelor’s need 1,000 hours total time.

Military pilots qualify for an R-ATP with 750 hours at 21 years old.

What is Your Ultimate Goal?

20% of our pilot workforce will call Air Wisconsin home for the rest of their career. While we do not

require our pilots to have degrees, some U.S. mainline carriers prefer or require pilots to have four year degrees. If you dream of operating large aircraft one day, it’s a good idea to research the requirements for your mainline carrier of choice. It may influence your decision to get or not get a degree.

Air Wisconsin pilots have the opportunity to apply to United’s new pilot career program Aviate. While United prefers a bachelor’s degree, they will and have hired pilots who have other types of experience that they deem comparable.

Learn more about Aviate at unitedaviate.com.

How Do You Want to Build Hours?

Even if you graduate with a four-year degree and after you get your various required ratings, you will likely still have hours left to fly before you can meet minimums. This obviously isn’t a decision you need to make immediately, but as you progress along your journey talk to your instructors and peers to see what you can learn from their experiences.

Some pilots decide to become Certificated Flight Instructors (CFIs) and may even relocate to an area with more favorable weather to fly more and meet minimums faster. Many schools are looking for instructors and often hire students after graduation to come back and teach.

Others may begin flying for a Part 135 carrier. You might be operating a private charter or transporting cargo. There’s a good chance that you will fly in many different types of weather conditions in this role, which is great experience to have.

Since many other countries have lower total time requirements, sometimes pilots will fly overseas and build up the hours they need to work for an airline in the US.

To Sum It Up

No one size fits all path exists for a person who wants to become a commercial pilot. You get to decide which path is right for you based on your career goals.

You can find more detailed information on ATP/R-ATP requirements on the bottom of our Pilot page at www.airwis.com/pilots.

Find a list of FAA approved R-ATP eligible schools on the FAA’s website HERE.

🌴 Honolulu Itinerary 🌴

Aloha! We’re stoked to be heading to Honolulu. Let’s get some grindz on Thursday, November 14 at Tropics Ale House! Dinner is on us for any CFIs or professional pilots who want to learn more about flying for us as United Express and then United through their Aviate program.

You can also catch us at one of these other events or get in touch to see if we can set something up. Email: Enrique.Camblor@airwis.com

Thursday, November 14

Friday, November 15

Saturday, November 16

Our Honolulu Pilot Dinner last fall at Tropics Ale House. Thanks to everyone who came!

We hope to see you soon. Mahalo!

A Destination for Veterans

Veterans have the attention to detail, high standards, and leadership skills that we look for in candidates. The current shortage of licensed and unlicensed professionals means unlimited opportunities in aviation, especially for pilots and mechanics on our Tech Ops team.

In the segment below featured on Military Makeover: Operation Career, you will meet two employees who seamlessly transitioned into their civilian careers at Air Wisconsin.

Explore our opportunities at www.airwis.com/careers.

Unicorn No More: Encouraging Women to Fly

Meeting what many in the aviation industry have dubbed “a unicorn,” or a female pilot, makes all the difference to a young girl or woman with aspirations of flight. It marks the moment their dream feels achievable. That is why Air Wisconsin encourages and offers its pilots the opportunity to represent the company at events to help inspire and reassure the next generation.

“It’s okay to dream of doing this,” said Air Wisconsin Captain Avreet Randhawa. “When you get in touch with other women who fly, they’re very supportive.” She added, “I go to all these air shows because I get to meet people, and I love that. It’s always amazing to share what you’ve gone through. We don’t see a lot of female pilots out there.”

Captain Avreet Randhawa with Tim Genc, Director of Pilot Recruitment, and Finn Hudson, Pilot Recruiter.

Without the encouragement of her parents, Avreet admits she probably never would have become a pilot. “I was 10 when I started saying I wanted to fly.” Avreet ended up getting a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field. In her last year at school, her father reminded her of that faded aspiration and motivated her to earn a pilot rating after graduation. It was a wildly different path than anyone in her family had taken. Still, two months after graduation, Avreet was at Phoenix East Aviation flight school halfway around the world, finally learning to fly.

Air Wisconsin First Officer Trista Higgins credits her mom with affirming her desire to take to the skies. “As a kid, I was always fascinated with airplanes and airline travel, but of course, never saw or knew a female pilot. When I was about eight years old, I asked my mom if girls could be pilots too. Without hesitation, she said, ‘Yes!’ From that point on, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.”

As one of the few airlines run by a female CEO, motivating women to explore careers in aviation is a pursuit especially close to Air Wisconsin’s heart. Supporting and sponsoring events like Girls in Aviation Day and the Women in Aviation annual conference are ways the company works toward that goal.

Captain Avreet Randhawa in an Air Wisconsin CRJ-200.

CEO Christine Deister said, “By our words and actions, let’s encourage and mentor our sisters, daughters and other young women by showing them that great aviation careers are accessible and available to them in the same way that we have always taken for granted and assumed that our brothers, sons and young men will pursue those opportunities.”

We all need encouragement from time to time. If you’re interested in a career as a pilot but unsure where to start, reach out to a local flight school and ask about discovery flights. You’ll takeoff in a small plane flown by a Certified Flight Instructor and know within minutes whether or not flying is for you. Next, “make connections and perhaps even find a mentor,” suggests First Officer Trista Higgins. “Do some research and figure out what kind of pilot you want to be. Find the best path for you, then go for it!”

First Officer Trista Higgins looking up at the tail of a CRJ-200.

Anyone interested in an aviation career is always welcome to seek advice from Air Wisconsin. Come see us at any event for resume reviews, interview tips, or just to say hello. You’ll likely meet one of our pilots who has been on the same journey you are on now. They would love to help.

You can also reach out to our recruiting team any time at pilotrecruiting@airwis.com, and explore all of our opportunities at www.airwis.com/careers.