The North Pole Doesn’t Have To Be So Far Away

Air Wisconsin joins with Lehigh Valley International Airport’s return of its “North Pole Express” for families with children battling cancer.

Over the weekend, Air Wisconsin had the chance to be the aircraft used in Lehigh Valley International Airport’s return of its “North Pole Express” for families with children battling cancer. The Pediatric Cancer Foundation of Lehigh Valley Inc. provided this charity flight experience to 14 families from the area after taking a two-year break due to COVID-19.

We were proud to be able to supply both aircraft and crew for the flight, with an added meaningful touch, First Officer Ryan Melendez is a Leukemia survivor himself. Melendez was asked what being a part of this experience meant to him, he said “This experience is extra special to me, as I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 17. The thing that motivated me most when I was going thru treatment at the children’s hospital was seeing all the kids younger than me going through that same thing I was, but with big smiles on their faces as they ran up and down the halls of the pediatric oncology floor. It is very exciting to me to have this opportunity to be the pilot of the North Pole flight and to give this experience to such well deserving warriors.” Ryan was able to beat cancer and is now living his dream of being a pilot at an airline, with hopes to keep pushing himself and his career to new limits.

 Melendez knows just how special this day is for these kids who are often stuck within a hospital for a lot of the holiday season and he had this encouraging message for them “I want to tell them that they truly are the strongest individuals in this world, and though they may not understand it at this moment, one day they will look back and realize there is nothing too big in life that they cannot accomplish if they put their minds to it. I’d also tell them that this is just a small roadblock in their lives to be, and how important it is to try and find the positives in any situation, even where it may seem like there is none. As strange as it sounds, I am grateful that I had cancer, because it allowed me to do things in life that before I never would have thought was possible. Cancer is the reason that I am a pilot today, the reason I was compelled to start a non-profit organization which has raised over $500,000 for pediatric cancer research, and most importantly, cancer is the reason why I never take any second for granted and live my life to the fullest day in and day out. 

The crew of flight attendants were all aware of the privilege of being able to bring this experience to these children. Flight attendant Hope Frank said “We should all feel joy. Life is about wonder and magic. I am happy to bring a spark of magic to the children and their families!”

One of the other flight attendants on crew for the North Pole flight was Gino Hoffman, who’s heart for children and families really gave him appreciation for the event that day. Hoffman said, “I feel honored to be part of this flight. I come from a large family, and I am a Dad myself. I have fostered and adopted over 10 children and have 22 nieces and nephews. Family is the most important facet of my life. Helping children has been a calling of mine because I have always believed that Children’s needs should come before our own as adults. Some are not able to help for various reasons but for those of us that are, Children can know they have trusted adult allies to help them through the good and difficult times, whatever they may be faced with. As a foster parent, I have experienced so many scenarios with children that have experienced trauma including life-threatening illnesses. At the end of the day, their difficult journey is one no child should go at alone. It takes a village. Most importantly, seeing the smile on their faces during the Holiday season brings me happiness. I remember how happy I was as a young boy this time of year and would have only dreamed of the opportunity to go to the “North Pole”. Sometimes it’s the little things for kids that bring them joy.”

            The in-air experience for the children and their families was carefully crafted by the crew with safety regulated decorations in the cabin and special holiday treats, chocolate covered pretzels, organic snack options, holiday items and Air Wisconsin swag. There were also children’s Christmas song booklets to sing along to carols, Santa hats and jingle bells, and more for all to have a fun time! The flight attendant crew was in holiday sweaters and Santa hats in lieu of traditional uniforms. The children will also receive a Christmas poem written for them on how aircraft 471 saved Christmas.

The flight went off without a hitch and each child was given a memory they won’t soon forget. Flight attendant Barb Bognar said it best “It is an honor to find a way to make these kids smile. I think moments like this remind me of how precious life is and to enjoy every moment.”

SOC Spotlight: Maintenance Controllers

As we all know, aviation is more than just planes and the people flying them, it takes entire teams and crews both on the ground and in the sky to have a safe and effective operation. Taking the time to highlight some of the lesser talked about areas of aviation is something that we strive to do. To provide not just transparency into what it takes to be a successful airline, but also highlight some of the jobs that people don’t even realize are available to them (& they come with flight benefits of course!). This week our team took the time to dig a little deeper into life as a Maintenance Controller and here is what they had to say!

You may be asking, what does a Maintenance Controller do?  Maintenance (MX) Control is the tip of the spear for Maintenance Operations. All unscheduled maintenance defects are routed through the SOC Dispatchers to our MX Control team. Once notified of a discrepancy the MX Controller will utilize either company, contract or on-call maintenance vendors throughout the system to facilitate any required repairs. Once the repairs are complete and the Controller is satisfied with the airworthiness of the aircraft, the aircraft will be returned to service by the MX Controller and passed back to the operation for continued revenue service.

What is your favorite part of coming to work? “Working with the professionals within the SOC to juggle aircraft and maintenance assets as needed to best support the operation.” said Russ R. who is a current MX Controller for us, he continued “The family of employees within the SOC are all just trying valiantly to keep a flying scheduled complete and on time. Every day is filled with different challenges and surprises, and yet the goal remains the same, keep the planes and people safe and on-schedule.”

Chris B. who is also on the maintenance team said “Aviation is a very tight knit community. Coming to work every day dealing with the same people it becomes fun family experience.” Chris continued, “Aviation isn’t for everyone but it is for someone who likes fixing things and coming up with solutions. For the younger employees, they should get as much travel in when they can and work on different airframes to better their career.” Chris comes from a factory background. When that factory shut down he went to get his A&P because he knew he always liked fixing things with his hands and aviation lets him do that in many different ways.

When talking about the team at Air Wisconsin Chris H., Director of Maintenance, said “The team is diverse. No two people on the team have walked the same path to get to this point in their career. We have had controllers fresh out of A&P School, Military veterans and Reservists, as well as internal and external line/hangar technicians.” Chris’s own background lies in 9 years working on F-18s as a jet engine mechanic, Quality Assurance Inspector after which he transitioned to Tech School where he earned degrees in Airframe/Powerplant Maintenance, and Advanced Electronics. Through those studies he earned his A&P and AET ratings.

Russ has a different story and this is his second tour of duty with Air Wisconsin. His first career spanned nearly 20 years, almost all within maintenance.  A two year sabbatical into Health Care Facility Management taught him that his true love is aviation, so he returned to us!  

Now you may be wondering “How do I know if I am the right fit for a MX controller?” The skills needed are a strong work ethic, positive attitude, a can-do mindset, and a willingness to learn. Russ said “I’d say 1 in 10 mechanics might be good a maintenance controller.  The one is a person who gets excited by weird problems, seeks out the challenge of making our operation succeed yet will stand firm ensuring our aircraft are safe and airworthy.” 

Air Wisconsin has been operating as a regional airline in the United States since 1965. We currently perform flying services for United Airlines as United Express throughout the Midwest and East Coast, operating CRJ-200 regional jets. Starting in 2023, we will be transitioning our fleet with our new partner, American Airlines. We are excited for this opportunity to join the American team and support their unrivaled regional network bringing passengers from their hometowns, large and small, to hubs that provide them with a gateway to countless travel destinations.

We would love to have you join the Air Wisconsin team!

Click to APPLY!

Clear Skies in the Future for the Next Generation of Female Pilots

See how WAI-SE WI Chapter, MKE, and AWA inspired future female pilots through a hands-on aviation event

On Saturday September 24th, an eager group of almost 50 girls woke up with a little extra energy to get to the airport where the fall Milwaukee air would soon be filled with the smell of jet fuel and the sounds of questions would be bouncing off the flight deck. It was Girls in Aviation Day. 

Girls in Aviation Day is a free event for girls ages 12-18 and is put on by the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of Women in Aviation, hosted by the Milwaukee Mitchell Airport, and supported by us (Air Wisconsin Airlines). This event gave the youth a chance to talk with aviation professionals, learn more about different careers in aviation, and of course get to test out the view from the left seat. This experience offers a behind-the-scenes look at the airport and airport operations, as well as asking real-time questions to women already in the industry.

“I witnessed the excitement and the energy of the girls gathered inside the airport, flying airplane simulators, exploring potential aviation careers, and talking with mentors. Potential aviatrices were eagerly asking questions, but once inside the aircraft, and especially sitting in the pilot seats, the questions were replaced with wide eyes and big smiles,” said Evan McMillen, Assistant Chief Pilot of Air Wisconsin Airlines, “What an amazing and uncommon opportunity for young women to explore a world that has mostly been male dominated, and to discover that a career in aviation is within their reach!”

Aside from the benefit of this event to the aviation community, it also brought joy to the our Domicile city of Milwaukee as well as most of the youth attending were from many local schools in the Milwaukee area. Mandi Neumann, Flight Attendant for Air Wisconsin Airlines, said “We were able to show the girls airport operations, have them fly flight simulators, and tour a Jet Out TBM and an Air Wisconsin CRJ-200. We also had representatives from the 128th Air Refueling Wing. The girls were very excited that they were able to sit in the flight deck of the CRJ-200 where they got to have their picture taken in the captain’s seat.” Mandi made note that one girl even exclaimed,

“This is so cool! I didn’t think I would actually get to see where the pilots fly the airplane!”

Not only did they get to see the cockpit of the aircraft, another Air Wisconsin flight attendant named Hope Frank was able to show the girls the cabin and the galley while Mandi led the tour of the flight deck.

Mandi is also the membership chair of the Southeastern WI chapter of WAI and said “Our chapter has at least two of these outreach events each year. I think it’s important to be involved in the community. A lot of the girls at this event had never been on an airplane before. This event gave them the opportunity to see that there are many career opportunities in aviation that they may not have considered before.”

We are honored to be able to help represent the commercial aviation industry at these events and be a reliable source to the future pilots of the world. Creating experiences that last a lifetime for the ones that will someday (hopefully) be in charge of the skies.

Special thanks to Mim R., Evan M., Robin B., Mandi N., Hope F. and Hanna B. & Sheila A. for assisting with bringing an aircraft over, assisting with escorting, giving the girls a tour of our a/c and working the swag table.

For more information on Air Wisconsin Airlines please visit our site at https://www.airwis.com/ and if you have any media inquiries or would like to share event photos please contact Kayla at kayla.floyd@airwis.com

For more information on Women In Aviation- SE Wisconsin Chapter and their outreach efforts please email wai.sewisconsin@gmail.com with questions

Don’t Let Anything Stand in the Way of Your Dreams

First Officer Ryan M. recently shared his story of resilience and determination that led him to fulfill his dream of flying.

“Flying to me is the greatest freedom that one could ask for, and I cherish every second I get to spend in the sky.”

Just six days into Ryan’s senior year of high school, his entire world came to a sudden stop. Prior to this day, Ryan was a competitive golfer, multinational champion equestrian, musician, and a 4.2 GPA student who had his sights set on attending a highly ranked four-year university.  

Starting in September of 2015, Ryan began running a low-grade fever. For three days, his mother took him to see the doctor, each time being told, “it’s just a virus, it will pass.” During the time he was sick, he became lethargic, had a high fever, and by the fourth day, his high fever still wouldn’t break, and he threw up to the point that the blood vessels in his eyes burst, leaving the whites of his eyes completely red. His mother rushed him back to the doctor’s office, where a new doctor took immediate action, which assisted in saving his life. 

He was rushed to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego by ambulance and put into the Intensive Care Unit. While in the trauma room, about 15 doctors and nurses worked frantically, trying to save Ryan’s life. With his blood pressure so low, his body went into septic shock, causing his organs to begin to shut down. His family was told there was a high chance Ryan would not survive the night. The following day, he remained in critical condition in the ICU.

It was during this time while in the hospital that Ryan made a decision that would alter his future. While lying in the ICU, he looked up at his dad and said, “I want to become a pilot.” Ryan’s dad was a pilot (private pilot) himself, and he immediately rushed to the nearby airport, which was only five minutes from the hospital, and picked up an assortment of books and Ryan’s first log book. That was the moment Ryan truly started to focus on reaching a new goal in his life, and he was determined to fight against whatever was going to stand in his way so he could fly!

On Sept. 10, 2015, the bone marrow test returned and Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and began intensive chemotherapy. The first month of treatment was extremely difficult for Ryan and his family.

Despite being given a life-altering diagnosis, Ryan was determined to not let cancer define him. In November, just over two months since being diagnosed, he went up for his first flight! Flying was the one place Ryan felt he had total control over his life and was his way to escape the hardships of chemotherapy. It was also during that first flight that his oncology doctor called and left a message saying Ryan had reached remission.

However, that was not the end of his treatment. Ryan endured almost 3.5 years of chemotherapy while also continuing his flight lessons. Since he was undergoing treatment, he could not qualify for a medical. Ryan had supportive instructors to help him continue to pursue his dreams of flying. Ryan was then told that he could obtain a Sport License, and his instructor, Bob (who is commonly known as the Taildragger Guru of Southern California), introduced Ryan to tail draggers, which led to his decision to buy his first airplane in April of 2018.

Ryan got his first airplane, a 1946 Aeronca Chief named “Snoopy” and soon after became a certified pilot with a Sport License. He never altered his end goal and persevered through his drive, determination, and passion for flying. Upon finishing treatment, Ryan set out to get his medical and was granted a Class 1 by the FAA.

Ryan continued his flying journey by obtaining his Private Certificate and then shortly after getting his Commercial Certificate. All his tailwheel time led to him getting to tow banners for a company called “FlySkyAds Aerial Advertisement” based out of New Jersey. After his first summer flying the Jersey Shore and the New York City skyline, Ryan convinced his boss to let him fly 2 Super Cubs across the country to start a Southern California banner operation. Ryan successfully built the new operation from the ground up, training and hiring pilots, scheduling banners, and getting permission from airports to be able to operate the business out of them. The once two-airplane operation based solely out of New Jersey now has six airplanes in its fleet spread between the east and west coast, thanks to the work done between Ryan and his old boss. During this time, Ryan was also attending The University of Southern California, where he graduated with honors with a major in Political Science and a Minor in Music on May 15, 2021.

The moment finally came in August of this year when Ryan hit 1500 hours in his airplane, submitted his applications, and decided he wanted to join the Air Wisconsin family. Almost 6 years after Ryan told his dad he wanted to become a pilot, Ryan never let cancer define what his future could be.

Ryan’s plane, “Snoopy,” was renovated to have its current red and white color scheme.

Ryan’s dream became a reality this year when he piloted his first commercial airline flight as a First Officer with Air Wisconsin Airlines while his parents sat happily on board in the back!

He noted, “My favorite thing about Air Wisconsin is the culture the company has been able to create. To me, it truly feels like a family, as I get to see familiar faces of pilots and flight attendants every time I’m walking down the halls at the airports. Everyone has an outstanding personality and is truly fun to be around after a long day’s work.”

When asked what encouragement Ryan has for aspiring pilots, he remarks, “I hope my story shows that “even in extreme cases of adversity (whether or not it’s one’s goal to be a pilot), it is truly possible to follow and achieve any dream you have. Before my Illness, I was set on my plan of graduating high school at the top of my class, attending a 4-year university to play D1 golf, and then going on to law school to become a lawyer. What my journey showed me was that sometimes life can alter the course you had planned, and even though at the time it may seem as though your life is ruined, the reality is you have total control of the life you chose to live after that adversity. You can either choose to dwell on the negatives or find the positives hidden in the situation, which just might lead you to the life you never thought you could have. Flying to me is the greatest freedom that one could ask for, and I cherish every second I get to spend in the sky.”

Air Wisconsin is excited to have Ryan as a part of our family, and we thank him for sharing his story of never giving up while chasing his dreams.

Nature versus Nature: Two Generations Share a Passion for Aviation at Air Wisconsin

Psychologists often debate the influence of nature versus nurture and how each may impact our actions and choices as humans. Although we don’t have the answer to one of Psychology’s oldest questions, we can say, when it comes to these three sets of fathers and sons, the desire to work in aviation got passed on to the next generation.

First, meet Paul and Max Gill. Paul started as a Bae146 First Officer at Air Wisconsin in 1998. He is currently a Captain and our Lead Ground School Instructor. Paul’s son Max had the opportunity to fly as a passenger with his dad flying in left seat from Appleton (ATW) to Chicago (ORD) while growing up. Max recently started at Air Wisconsin himself and successfully finished his Initial Operating Experience (IOE) in May. They are pictured together at the Appleton International Airport when Max had an overnight in Appleton, WI during his IOE.

Next up, we have Don and son Jeff Sievert. Don started at Air Wisconsin in 1969 after serving four years in the United States Marine Corps as an F-4 engine test cell mechanic. After 37 years holding various positions at Air Wisconsin, Don retired in 2006 as the Maintenance Planning and Programs Manager. His son, Jeff, started at Air Wisconsin in 2003 after serving four years in the United States Air Force and has been with Air Wisconsin for over 18 years and currently holds our Director of Maintenance position. Jeff had the privilege to work with his dad in the maintenance department for three years and even had a desk located near his father’s for a brief period. Combining their years of service; the Sieverts have provided Air Wisconsin with over 55 years of maintenance experience!

The last duo we would like to introduce is Andy Lundt and his father, Bob Lundt. Andy started as a Ramp Agent with us while he was in college. After school, Andy returned to Air Wisconsin and held various management positions over his 18 years at the Company and is currently our Director of Procurement. Early in Andy’s career, his father, Bob, was also working at Air Wisconsin, managing the Crew Scheduling department. In fact, Bob was the first Crew Scheduler Air Wisconsin employed; he started and grew the department over his 33 years of tenure. Even after Bob retired in 2003, he was instrumental in sharing the stories and artifacts to commemorate our Company’s 50th anniversary in 2015. We hope that Andy continues in his father’s footsteps, collecting mementos and serving as a company historian for many years to come. We would also like to thank these two for their 50 years of combined experience!

Don Sievert and Bob Lundt kindly returned to Air Wisconsin for photos and got an opportunity to reconnect. They toured the new maintenance hanger and reminisced about the early days of our Company, and Fort Wayne was definitely brought up as a key location in our Company’s early years. Don and Bob worked together for many years, and now their sons, Jeff and Andy, interact daily.

We want to thank all six men for sharing their stories and love for aviation running through the generations with a little help from nature and a nudge from nurture.

The Joint Responsibility of Flight: A Closer Look at the Role of a Dispatcher

The dispatcher and the crew share the responsibility of keeping our passengers safe during all phases of flight. Commercial flights in the United States need two people, the pilot in command and the dispatcher, to jointly share responsibility for deeming a flight airworthy. This process begins long before the aircraft takes off to the friendly skies, and all begins with the dispatcher.

Wanting to know more about this critical role in the airline industry, we sat down with several Air Wisconsin Dispatchers to learn a little more about a day in the life of a dispatcher.

A dispatcher’s day starts at 3:30 AM, working at our headquarters in Appleton, WI, in our Systems Operations Center (SOC). Their workspace is situated on the second floor of Appleton International Airport; it’s only pure coincidence they work close to the airport and air traffic control tower. A dispatcher can actually do their job most anywhere as long as they have access to all the necessary software and tools.

A typical Air Wisconsin dispatcher desk has four monitors and an iPad. This configuration allows each  team member to keep an eye on the weather on one screen, utilize our flight release software on a second, and see a plot of all our aircraft on the third. The fourth screen displays an intricate phone system that can assist them in quickly communicating with pilots, outstations, and our maintenance team.

Our dispatchers start by carefully reviewing the weather at departing and arrival cities, designing the flight plan, and identifying alternate routes to land to ensure safe travels for our passengers and our crew members. All of this planning is then merged into a flight release.

A flight release can be defined as the formal authorization for the pilot in command to proceed with a flight with both the dispatcher and the pilot in command in control. Additionally, a flight release must contain certain information such as the company name, make, model, and airplane registration. It must include the date of flight, departure, and arrival cities, any alternate airports, weather information, minimum fuel needed to complete the flight, and state the type of operation (instrument flight rules IFR or visual flight rules VFR). Flight releases contain critical detail and must be carefully reviewed every flight.                           

Planning safe flights and building flight releases are the core of a dispatcher’s work.

While the dispatcher is looking over the route and planning needed fuel, the pilot walks around the plane and reviews the logbook, a running description of all the repairs and maintenance performed on a particular aircraft. If the pilot detects a needed repair on an airplane during his pre-flight inspection, he contacts our Dispatch team. The Dispatcher will then start a conference call with our Maintenance team to discuss how to resolve the problem.

They will determine if the aircraft should be taken out of service for immediate repair or if the plane can still safely and legally fly on its scheduled flights, and the item will be repaired at a later time. This determination is made by using the aircraft’s Minimum Equipment List (MEL). The dispatcher must then note the items to be repaired later on the flight release.

After any MELs are addressed, the dispatcher sends the flight release to the crew, and the pilot agrees the aircraft is airworthy. The pilot prints and signs the release and brings it on the flight for reference.

Next, the dispatcher monitors the flight en route, ensuring no unexpected weather or mechanical issues negatively impact the flight’s progress. In fact, the dispatcher and the pilots can communicate with one another throughout the flight using a system called ACARS. If the pilot in command or dispatcher is of the opinion that a flight cannot operate safely as planned or released, the dispatcher may have the pilot land the plane at a listed alternate or nearest airport. 

For example, say a flight was released to fly from Appleton, WI (ATW) to Chicago, IL (ORD). Along the way, snow and ice suddenly covered the airport at ORD. The dispatcher, who is monitoring the flight and weather, would contact the pilot in command and advise them to fly to an alternate airport to land the aircraft safely on a clear runway in Milwaukee (MKE).

Another example of communication between dispatch and the pilots could relate to our passengers. If someone falls ill mid-flight, the pilots can notify the dispatcher, and they can contact the local emergency medical service to assist the passenger as soon as the plane lands.

Our Flight and Dispatch team’s continuous communication between the air and land ensures safe flying for our passengers and crew.

Being a dispatcher takes focus and dedication. We require an FAA Dispatcher License, and once hired, our Dispatchers receive paid training to learn about the specifics of our fleet. After initial training, our dispatchers continue their training, staying current with all regulations and flying at least five hours in the jumpseat of the cockpit annually to observe our pilots in the air.

We appreciate our dispatch team and could not fly without them!

If you think a career in dispatch might be the right choice for you, apply online today.

Celebrating Mother’s Day 2021

The pandemic may complicate Mother’s Day this year, but know the only thing your mom really wants is to hear from you. Don’t feel guilty if any special days are low-key. The most important thing is being safe.

If you are looking for ideas on creating a socially distanced and unique experience for a mom or caregiver in your life, this blog is for you. You’ll find ideas below and two different aviation-themed color pages for Mother’s Day. 

If YOU LIVE LOCALLY

  • Turn mom’s front door or porch into a burst of colorful celebration. Use streamers, make a custom sign, or even place a wreath she’ll adore on the door. What does she love? How can you incorporate that into the details?
  • Yard signs are a big trend in the South and a fun project for any occasion. Unleash your inner artist or enlist the help of the Monet in your life. 
  • Practical gifts are always helpful. Make mom a coupon to mow the lawn, plant the shrub she just bought, or complete any task you know she isn’t looking forward to doing. You can always skip the coupon and make it a surprise. 

IF YOU’RE NOT LOCAL/OTHER IDEAS

  • Virtually travel together. The hottest tourism spots worldwide have created video tours that let you explore museums, art galleries, and other attractions at home. Has mom always wanted to see Paris? Visit the Louvre and plan your European vacation for the future.  
  • If you have time, creating a slideshow is an option you’ll both enjoy. Who doesn’t love laughing and cherishing old family photos? 
  • Practice self-care by taking a virtual yoga class, completing a soothing craft, or having a virtual spa day together. 
  • Pick out an e-card that shows your mom or caregiver how much you love and appreciate them. 

Other classics include:

  • Delivering flowers
  • Giving a gift card
  • Coordinating a video call
  • Calling for a long chat

To all the mothers and caregivers, Happy Mother’s Day!

Highlighting the Women of Air Wisconsin: Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of our series, start HERE.

We continue to share insight from women throughout Air Wisconsin Airlines on our social media channels and in this blog series to acknowledge their contributions and to inspire. These women all have different stories, which gives them a unique perspective on what it takes to succeed, what’s truly important, and how to live your best life.

Like the women featured in this series, we also hope that educating girls and women on the types of jobs available will encourage them to explore the exciting world of aviation. The industry is male-dominated now, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Whether you dream of the sky, love numbers, always tinker with mechanical objects or just have a general interest in aviation, there’s a path waiting for you.

A photo of Nidhi at her desk taken in 2020.

Every time you face a challenge, it could be a defining moment. Nidhi finds success in uncomfortable situations by pushing herself to learn and grow. In school, she was terrified of public speaking and realized no one could solve her problem for her. Nidhi committed to sharing something valuable in every presentation, meeting, or conversation and slowly got over her fear. 

Get out of your comfort zone. Go out there and start learning. No one ever shared this advice with Nidhi. She had to figure it out herself, but she credits this advice with getting her where she is today.

As a Financial Analyst, Nidhi performs multifaceted financial analysis related to operating costs, new business initiatives, labor negotiations with our various unions, etc. She also provides benchmark data to support decision-making, among other things. Nidhi knew she wanted to work in aviation, but one last challenge was in the way.

“I graduated last year in May with my Master’s degree in Aviation Finance. Due to the pandemic, being a new graduate was even tougher than usual… The only thing that did NOT change is the fact that I kept learning no matter what. I’d wake up every day, reach out to my mentors for guidance, keep looking for jobs, enroll in online classes that I found beneficial, and just kept going. Stopping was not an option I wanted to pursue, so I didn’t…

In the past, I have been told ‘Fake it ’till you make it’ or ‘Just suck it up’ when I was seeking advice from others. Now that I am living my life, those phrases hardly mean anything. Personally, I think you have to just be authentic and most importantly, kind to yourself. Just like everyone in this world, I have problems. Pretending like they do not exist does no good to me or anyone. So, my advice is to wake up, dress up, show up, have great coffee, and do such an incredible job that you feel self-motivated every single day without the need for external validation. Become the person you wish to seek advice from.”

— Nidhi Trambadia
Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Like pilots and aviation mechanics, Aircraft Dispatchers are predominately male but have more female representation. Fewer than 5,000 female dispatchers work in the U.S. Aviation industry. According to the FAA, they account for 19.4% of the group as of 2019. Jen joined the ranks after she decided to pursue a career as an Aircraft Dispatcher while working as a Ramp Agent.

Since joining Air Wisconsin, Jen’s career has evolved so much because she took the initiative and seized every opportunity that came her way. Say yes and get involved—that’s what we learn from Jen. Carpe diem!

“I am very proud of being a part of the Air Wisconsin Airlines Dispatch team. I started about 14 years ago as a Dispatcher after leaving the ramp in Minneapolis. I cross-trained as a Dispatch Coordinator and teach Recurrent Training. I also got Air Transportation Supervisor qualified, so I could conduct Competency Checks for Dispatchers. I am a member of the company’s Dispatch-Aviation Safety Action Program committee, working with the FAA to identify significant safety concerns and other unusual events. Finally, I ended up as a Dispatch Trainer. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given as part of the Dispatch team. It’s challenging, and I get to work with an amazing group of people.”

— Jen Sloper
Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Since joining our company, Emily continues to let herself shine. Her contributions were noticed, and about a year after becoming a Flight Attendant, she was promoted to Inflight Domicile Manager. In this role, Emily oversaw the entire Inflight team based at her location. Not letting the expectations of others limit her goals, Emily earned another promotion to Hub Performance Manager.

In this role, Emily liaisons between Air Wisconsin and United’s hubs and outstations. Her keen eye is always focused on our operation and improving our performance. Emily reminds us to shoot for the stars.

“Don’t let norms dictate your goals; create goals to break the norms.”

— Emily Chaudhry
Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Some people have aviation in their blood. Bonnie was always going to work in the industry. First, she joined the Air Force for Air Traffic Control, and while waiting to hear back from the FAA on a position, she became a Flight Attendant. Later, a female First Officer suggested Bonnie take an observation flight to see if she wanted to be a pilot. Bonnie fell in love.

That female pilot became Bonnie’s mentor and still is to this day. That experience changed Bonnie’s life, and she believes in paying it forward by helping others who want to follow in her footsteps. Bonnie’s advice to future pilots is to always do the right thing and surround yourself with people who strive to be better every day. She proves that your path may not be easy or clear, but if you stay focused and invest in yourself, you’ll find a way.

“… She told me to take an observation flight, and I’d know in 5 minutes if it was the thing for me. I instantly fell in love with flying. After that, I bit the bullet, took out a loan, and took a chance on myself. I earned my ratings at ATP. I was given a chance to fly C208 caravans at 252 hours and still kept my job as a Flight Attendant to cover my bills. I would take the train to the Philadelphia airport after my 4 days of flying, sleep in the Minute Suites, and pick up my trip as a Flight Attendant and then commute home for 1 day off. I did that for 2 years to build my hours. Finally, I reached that magic number and went to chat with airlines at Sun and Fun, and that’s where I was introduced to Air Wisconsin. I haven’t looked back since.

The road may be tough and arduous at times, and some people will want to see you fail, but with true passion for the industry and drive in your heart, you will be unstoppable. I am so thankful I took a chance on myself and for having strong support from family, my mentor, and friends. I hope to see more women aviators in the sky.”

– Bonnie Rostad
Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Julia first joined our team as an Avionics Technician. In this role, Julie repaired various parts of the aircraft and performed maintenance like an A&P Mechanic, but additional certification allowed her to work on aircraft electrical systems. After completing our in-house training, she was promoted to her current role as an Inspector.

This vital position provides a check and balance inside of the hangar. Inspectors like Julia observe the mechanics, offer assistance, and double-check work before completing the sign-off. Julia also has the responsibility to inspect parts to determine if they can be refurbished or reused. Knowledge, excellent problem-solving skills, and critical thinking are instrumental in this career path.

Working with great people is one reason why Julia loves her job. Working for a smaller company has its perks and allows her to keep learning every day.

“I like the experience I get while working at Air Wisconsin. It’s a smaller company, so I have been able to learn about all parts of the airplane. Every day brings new challenges that need to be solved by troubleshooting.”

– Julia Darnick

Air Wisconsin is thankful to have such talented and inspiring people on our team. It’s a pleasure to play a developmental role in our employees’ careers and watch them grow.

If you only take one thing with you, let it be this: seize every opportunity to better yourself. And don’t be afraid to create those opportunities yourself. Every person experiences challenges in their life. How will you let those moments define you?


Explore all of our career opportunities HERE, and stay in touch by following us!

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!

Ways You Can Give Back Right Now

2020 continues to be a surprising and difficult year, and 2021 won’t be without challenges. With so much out of our control, it feels good to be able to take action and make a positive impact. There are many ways you can give back to others and your community this holiday season and throughout the pandemic. Here are some ideas to get you started.  

Air Wisconsin Airlines is not associated with any of the organizations listed below, and we recommend that you research any organization yourself before getting involved.

Check in with the people you care about.

Traditionally, the holidays mean large indoor gatherings, something the CDC suggests we avoid for the foreseeable future. Following CDC guidance is important to protect yourself and your loved ones, but unfortunately, it can be lonely. Maintaining vital connections creates a support system, which is especially beneficial when things get rocky, like during a pandemic. Talk and share a laugh with family and friends, just do it virtually or while social distancing. If you don’t have FaceTime, anyone can sign up for Zoom and use it for free; just know that the free version limits meetings to 40 minutes.

Graphic from CDC

Donate items to nonprofit organizations. 

If you discover that you have clothes your kids grew out of last year or household items you don’t use anymore, consider donating them. Remember that the needs of nonprofits may continue to change during the pandemic. Be sure to check their website to see what items they are accepting and what they really need right now.

Volunteer while following CDC preventive guidance.  

Many nonprofits need volunteers year-round, like local food banks or Meals on Wheels. Contact nonprofits in your area and ask how you can help. Also, during the pandemic, it’s best to avoid unexpectedly showing up to volunteer as new guidelines or capacity limits may be in place.

Another idea is to volunteer virtually. For example, you could help blind and low vision people complete tasks through BeMyEyes.com. This service is free to blind and low vision people and relies on volunteers. All you need is a mobile device to sign up.

Photo by Alex Mecl on Unsplash

Help community members in need.

Want to help someone, but not sure who needs it? Check Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center to see who needs help in your area or outright offer help. Picking up groceries for a housebound neighbor and leaving them at the front door is an easy way to make a difference. 

You can also check out the Nextdoor app to stay connected to what is going on in your area.

Thank health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers.  

No one has seen how ugly and devastating this virus can be more than health care workers and first responders. These and other groups of essential workers keep our communities functioning despite the pandemic. Express your gratitude by:

  • Recording a voice message of encouragement on the Health Hero Hotline by calling 877-226-4376.
  • Recording a video with an uplifting message for someone who deserves it on your cell phone and uploading it to www.6ftcloser.com, a site encouraging recognition of everyday heroes.
  • Visiting your local hospital’s Facebook page and website. See if they are requesting certain items to help support frontline workers or if they have a program in place for the public to send messages.
  • Reaching out to essential workers you know and offering to drop off a meal, pick up groceries, or ask how to help them.
  • Making a yard sign or sign for your window. Turn this into a fun activity for the kids.
  • Being kind. Tensions can run high during times of stress. Remember, we’re all doing the best we can. Common courtesy goes a long way.

The biggest way you can help essential workers and the general public is by properly wearing a mask, social distancing, and following CDC COVID-19 preventive guidance. In doing so, you can alleviate the burden on hospitals by not unknowingly spreading the virus and not getting sick yourself. If fewer people became ill with the COVID-19 virus, health care professionals could better care for patients.

Photo by Nicholas Bartos on Unsplash

Helping COVID-19 patients.

As pointed out by the CDC, most people who become ill with COVID-19 can recover at home. Picking up medications or groceries and leaving them at the door are easy ways to help someone recovering at home. You could offer to watch a pet, allowing the person to focus more on themselves. Or, depending on where you live, winter weather means there are walkways to be shoveled.

You’ll also find many worthy charities on the web who help cover hospital costs for COVID-19 patients or help them in another way, but there are some scams too. Before donating money to any organization, read the FTC’s guide on how to verify a charity is legitimate at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity#.

Think about how you can use your passion for good. 

Do you love reading? Start a virtual book club. Are you a yoga fan? Host a weekly yoga session on Zoom for friends who want to participate. Miss talking with your neighbors or colleagues? Start a weekly social hour and connect on Zoom or FaceTime.

How will you give back? 

Every holiday season Air Wisconsin participates in the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program in Appleton, Wisconsin, where our headquarters is based. Throughout the year, we match employee charitable donations, allowing us to positively impact many of the different communities we serve across the country and support the causes that matter most to our employees. We host blood drives and encourage employees to get involved in their communities. During a normal year, our company also participates in charity runs and events as a team.

All photos of employees were taken pre-pandemic.

Giving back can be done on a larger scale, but it can also be done within your social circle or your community. It’s all about connecting and making a difference. Right now, we could all use more positivity and support. If you choose to give of yourself, you’ll create moments of joy for yourself and others.