Highlighting the Women of Air Wisconsin: Part 1

This month, we’re highlighting women throughout our company on our social media channels and asking them to share advice or insight. The hope is that their words will inspire others, guide the next generation, and offer encouragement to anyone who needs it.

In this two-part series, you’ll hear from women whose careers are more commonly top-of-mind when you think of aviation and hear from women whose careers are not. We’ll highlight that women tend to be in the minority when it comes to many aviation careers such as pilot, mechanic, or aircraft dispatcher. Companies like Air Wisconsin and the organizations mentioned in this blog are trying to change that by educating girls and women on the types of opportunities available.

This series will also help amplify the voices of the women already in those roles at Air Wisconsin Airlines, providing an example and inspiration for anyone who chooses aviation as their career path. Please join us in celebrating and acknowledging the contributions made by these outstanding women.

Photo taken pre-pandemic.

As an A&P Mechanic, Kassidy performs maintenance and repairs various parts of the aircraft including working on the engine. This is a very technical job that requires problem-solving skills, the ability to troubleshoot complex problems, and the right certifications. Kassidy loves her job and plays a hands-on role in keeping our operation safe and on-time. She is one of the few female aircraft mechanics in the United States.

In December 2019, only 2.5% of aircraft mechanics in the US were women, according to the FAA. Out of all of the possible careers in aviation, this one has the smallest percentage of women. Many companies like Air Wisconsin are emphasizing the need for more diversity in the field and raising awareness.

Kassidy hopes more women pursue this rewarding career and reminds us all to find our support system. No one accomplishes anything alone.

“Always gaining knowledge and moving forward is what I love about my career. I have earned my place, but I was not walking alone. The individuals that stood by me and lent a helping hand when I needed it will always have my utmost appreciation and gratitude. Tomorrow is why I love working in this industry. Each day is brand new.”

– Kassidy Wykoff
Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Sonji discovered her passion for aviation by chance. When she graduated from high school, she wanted to become a Registered Nurse. After taking some business classes, Sonji started to lean toward Human Resources Management. But it wasn’t until she was hired as a Ramp Fleet Service Clerk with a mainline carrier that she realized how much she loved the fast-paced aviation industry.

Although she had jobs in other industries after, Sonji still loved aviation and eventually joined our team. Now, Sonji supports our largest crew base and positively impacts the lives of countless people every day. By supporting our crew members, they are better able to take care of our passengers.

Sonji reminds us that the people you work with every day make a world of difference. Find your work family.

“I am very proud of my strong work ethic and my ability to be a team player for the Inflight/Flight team. I am valued. Knowing that my work family appreciates what I do in the office daily motivates me… Follow your dreams, and never compromise your integrity.  Every step that you take in life is not easy, but always remain authentic. Figure out your purpose, and strive to reach it. Nothing happens overnight, so be patient with the process.  Don’t let your attitude determine your altitude. Be accountable for your actions. Don`t judge others, and encourage others who need direction in this journey called life.”  

— Sonji Nicholas
Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Interested in aviation? Take First Officer Trista’s advice and get involved with an aviation-based organization to explore the many different paths available. She suggests Women in Aviation International, which is the largest and most well-known. Other female-led aviation organizations include but are not limited to Sisters of the Skies and the Ninety-Nines.

If you want to fly as a career, you also have numerous options. During her career, Trista was a flight instructor, flew scenic tours, was part of a fire patrol team, flew corporate flights, and currently flies commercial flights for us under the United Express banner. In December 2019, 7.9% of pilots in the United States were women, according to the FAA. That number is slowly growing as more companies like Air Wisconsin and our partner United Airlines commit to encouraging girls and women to explore aviation and other opportunities in STEM.

Your journey is unique. Find the path that works for you and go for it! Trista is proof that childhood dreams come true if you’re willing to work hard and believe in yourself.

“I would highly recommend getting involved in one of the female aviation organizations like Women in Aviation International. These organizations provide several benefits and opportunities to members such as scholarships, networking, and mentoring… I love so many aspects of working in aviation… Being an airline pilot is all I’ve ever wanted to be since I was 8 years old. Every time an airplane would fly overhead, I would look up in amazement. Now whenever I step into the flight deck, I’m still just as amazed that this is my career. Being responsible for 50 passengers in a multi-million dollar aircraft is a huge privilege.”

— First Officer Trista Higgins
Cori pictured with her son.

Behind-the-scenes members of our Maintenance team like Cori make up about 30% of our Maintenance department at Air Wisconsin. As the Program Manager of Aircraft Components, Cori’s job impacts our entire operation. She manages all of the repairable components from our aircraft that are sent to third-party vendors for repair. Additionally, Cori ensures these vendors meet or exceed the standards set by our Maintenance Program. She also works closely with other internal departments to verify inventory levels are sufficient to support the operation.

Like many people, it took Cori some time to discover what she really wanted to do as a career. Inspired by her mother, she kept looking until she found one that fit. Cori teaches us not to settle—find something you’re passionate about.

“I would have never guessed that I’d end up in the aviation industry. I grew up watching my mom’s unwavering passion and dedication to her career and knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I found an industry I was as passionate about. I changed my career path countless times during college until I found the right fit in aviation, and I haven’t looked back. I strive to emulate her passion and dedication and pass this along to my kids. Whether my kids are 5, 17, or 30, I want them to always look for that ‘perfect fit’ in whatever they do in life.”

– Cori Fuller

Lisa was born to soar in the sky. Like many people who become Flight Attendants, she was never interested in the 9-5 lifestyle. Traveling and meeting new people is exciting and a much better way to spend the day. You also have the chance to build strong, life-long friendships with fellow crew members.

Lisa also enjoys taking care of others, which is why being a Flight Attendant is so rewarding. Not only do you help transport people to important events and fun vacations, but you’re primarily responsible for their safety. Lisa reminds us that there’s a whole world to explore and plenty of opportunities for anyone who doesn’t want to sit at a desk all day.

“I love being a Flight Attendant as I love to travel and love customer service. You are always meeting different people from around the world. Come join the friendly skies with me, and I promise you never want to go back to any other job.”

– Lisa Hopkins

Click HERE to read part two. You’ll learn more about the different career paths available within aviation and meet more of the women who help make Air Wisconsin a leader in the regional airline industry.

Explore all of our career opportunities HERE.

Be sure to follow us on our social media channels!

Introducing Our New Role: Quality Control Managers

Reinforcing our focus on safety, Air Wisconsin Airlines created a new position at all of our maintenance bases—the Quality Control Manager—reporting to the Chief Inspector. This role focuses on the proper implementation of the processes outlined in the General Maintenance Manual as well as DOT, FAA, and other Company policies and procedures. Establishing this position in each base provides more support to Aircraft Inspectors and the Tech Ops team as a whole.

Having another person on the floor with extensive experience allows for more mentorship opportunities. Quality Control Managers use their years of experience inspecting aircraft in FAR Part 121 Air Carrier environments to coach Aircraft Inspectors. By passing on their knowledge, Quality Control Managers help sharpen their co-workers’ skills, making sure that expertise stays within the Air Wisconsin family.

One of our CRJ-200s at our Milwaukee Tech Ops base.

Additionally, these managers contribute to their base in many other ways. Quality Control Managers help oversee work on the hangar floor, assist in building efficient schedules, and ensure the aircraft maintenance records at their base are processed timely and accurately. Additionally, they act as the department liaison with the DOT and FAA in local matters relating to airworthiness and regulatory compliance. Quality Control Managers also assist with internal and FAA audits, among other things.

We’re excited to add this new, impactful role to our Tech Ops team and look forward to finding the best candidates for the job. Learn more about qualifications HERE.

Explore all of our career opportunities at www.airwis.com/careers.

Enjoy Our Coloring Pages

Spending more time at home can be challenging during the pandemic, especially if you have younger children. We wanted to help! If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids (or for yourself), check out our coloring pages.

We have four different designs below and a one page .pdf that combines all of the art to conserve paper. These were designed to fill an entire 8.5” x 11” page. You can select “fit to page” or “fill page” when printing for optimum results.

Be sure to share the masterpieces on social media and tag us @AirWisconsin or #AirWisconsin.

Happy Coloring!




A&P Means Opportunity, Part 3: Technical Auditors

If you missed Part 1: Maintenance Controllers read it HERE, or read Part 2: Maintenance Planning Coordinators HERE.

Safety is always the top priority in aviation. Air Wisconsin’s Tech Ops team follows regulations put in place by the FAA, DOT, OSHA and the EPA as well as company policies and procedures. Plus, we have an additional layer of oversite from the Quality Assurance Department to keep an eye on our operation and find ways to improve on processes.

As a Technical Auditor, you will become very familiar with all aspects of our maintenance operation since you’ll spend 75% of your time on the road visiting our base locations and vendors. The internal audits you preform will evaluate regulatory compliance and help determine the effectiveness of our policies and procedures. Using your past maintenance experience and excellent judgement, you can make recommendations for improvements to help our team work even safer and more efficiently.

In addition to developing and conducting audits for our base locations and maintenance offices, you will also audit vendors. Currently, Air Wisconsin uses a handful of outside facilities for heavy check maintenance and some on-call maintenance repairs. You will also inspect our fuel service providers to ensure they’re meeting specifications.

Here’s a photo from our operation in Chicago at O’Hare.

This career opportunity is great for someone with previous experience in a FAR Part 121 Air Carrier environment and a comprehensive understanding of the General Maintenance Manual system who also likes to travel. Like our Maintenance Planning Coordinator position, you don’t need an A&P certificate to be a Technical Auditor. But, this is an option to consider if you have an A&P and are looking to do something other than maintain aircraft.

It’s also worth mentioning that our Technical Auditors have flexibility when choosing a home base. You could be based at one of our maintenance facilities in Appleton, WI; Milwaukee, WI; Dayton; OH; or Columbia, SC or even in Chicago, IL where we use an on-call provider.

Learn more about the various positions we have on our Tech Ops team HERE.

A&P Means Opportunity, Part 2: Maintenance Planning Coordinators

With an A&P certificate, you could work on aircraft or even behind-the-scenes in one of many different roles. Most people don’t realize that there are career opportunities available beyond performing aircraft maintenance. Last week, we explored what Maintenance Controllers do (Read it HERE), and this week let’s check out the purview of a Maintenance Planning Coordinator.

Maintenance Planning Coordinators work on a living puzzle. Analytical skills come in handy when interpreting detailed aircraft maintenance reports to help forecast scheduled maintenance for that day and looking as far as 18 days out. The Coordinator needs to be aware of the manpower available at each Tech Ops facility as well as what tools and parts are available to help craft and coordinate the scheduled maintenance plan.

Of course, as new information becomes available, the plan might need to change. A Maintenance Planning Coordinator may decide to defer some maintenance, within the requirements of the approved maintenance program, to provide relief during Irregular Operations. Or, some scheduled maintenance might be deferred to maximize another opportunity when requested by a maintenance supervisor or station manager. Timely, accurate analysis is crucial in the Coordinator’s role as final authority for deferring tasks and coming up with realistic solutions to achieve performance goals.

Here’s an inside look at one of our GE engines.

During a typical week, a Maintenance Planning Coordinator will work four 10 hour days, and the Coordinators all take turns rotating weekends. Like Maintenance Controllers, Maintenance Planning Coordinators work in the Systems Operation Center located at our headquarters in Appleton, WI, alongside Aircraft Dispatchers and Crew Schedulers.

While an A&P certificate is not required for this position, it is desired and will make you stand out as a candidate. Explore this opportunity and all of our career opportunities HERE.

Read on to learn about Technical Auditors HERE.

A&P Means Opportunity, Part 1: Maintenance Controllers

You might be surprised to learn having an A&P certificate opens more doors than you think. Everyone pictures the mechanic working on the GE engine—which is an excellent and rewarding career path—but, did you know 30% of our Tech Ops team is made up of support roles? Many jobs are available beyond working on the aircraft.

Maintenance Controllers are the primary point of contact for all maintenance issues on our fleet. They work in the brain of our operation, the Systems Operation Center. If you’ve ever been on a flight waiting to takeoff when suddenly there is a maintenance issue, a Maintenance Controller is the one who determines the airworthiness of the maintenance issue, and if needed, sends a mechanic to fix the problem. They ensure airworthy aircraft are available for every flight and direct contingency maintenance during operations as needed.

While these detail oriented individuals never touch the aircraft, they are very familiar with how to fix aircraft, and most of them have past experience doing so. Our typical Maintenance Controller is a former A&P or Avionics Technician who was drawn to the position for the schedule (four days on, four days off with 11 hours shifts), interested in a “desk job,” and ready to do something a little different with their knowledge and skill set.

All of our Maintenance Controllers are based at our headquarters in Appleton, WI. Learn more HERE. Explore all of the openings on our Tech Ops team HERE.

Next, let’s explore what it means to be a Maintenance Planning Coordinator HERE.

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.