Connecting Culture and Passion: A Spotlight on Recruiting Specialist Tonya Thai


“Aviation is unlike any career; it gives you a sense of opportunity and freedom to travel anywhere in the world. I love that I can travel the world and connect with so many different cultures.” Recently, we spoke with Recruiting Specialist Tonya Thai and learned more about her story, how her love for aviation began, and her pride in her Vietnamese heritage.

Starting at a young age, Tonya’s parents took her to air shows and were always excited to watch The Blue Angels perform. Her father would talk about how the sounds reminded him of warplanes from the Vietnam War. Then at age 18, Tonya visited Vietnam with her father for a couple of months to learn more about her culture and family roots. They flew a 777 on EVA Air that was decorated entirely in Hello Kitty decor. Tonya recalls watching the crew members working and thinking about how unique their lifestyle was. Once in Vietnam, she had the opportunity to see where her father grew up. After returning home, Tonya realized how much she loved airplanes, the thrill of traveling, and that she wanted to work in the aviation industry one day.

After looking into different aviation careers, Tonya started her aviation journey as a gate agent in Baton Rouge, LA. After researching many airlines, Tonya came across Air Wisconsin and thought it was the perfect fit, being based in the Midwest. She was hired in 2018 as a flight attendant for 2.5 years, then became the Inflight Base Administrator at our Washington-Dulles base and is currently a Recruiting Specialist based in Chicago with our recruiting team.

Tonya spoke about her favorite part of working for us, “The best thing about working at Air Wisconsin is that they believe in promoting from within. I’m very proud of everything I’ve accomplished at Air Wisconsin. As a pilot recruiter, it is very rewarding to watch flight instructors transition into becoming airline pilots. I get to know our pilot group and take them every step of the way to becoming a successful airline pilot. I help dreams become a reality.”

Aviation is something Tonya will never quit. She’s loved every second of her career thus far and has even visited 47 of the 50 states, collecting magnets as she visits. With a love for adventure, Tonya loves to travel the world and connect with so many different cultures.

Tonya was excited to visit Vietnam with her father when she was 18. Growing up in southern Louisiana with a small Asian population at school, she felt disconnected from her Asian-American heritage. Today, Tonya embraces her heritage and notes she is proud of being Vietnamese and celebrates Vietnamese holidays. She also learned how to cook many delicious Vietnamese dishes like Pho.

When asked what advice she would give the next generation of aviation dreamers, Tonya mentioned, “Never stop learning and keep trying to evolve yourself. I would have never believed you if you had told me four years ago today that I’d go from being a flight attendant to a pilot recruiter. I found my passion and found a way to do it every day.”

Thank you, Tonya, for sharing your story!

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