Press room – Generations of aviators

First Officer Mike DeWalt first knew he wanted to be a pilot when he was eight years old. His father, a 26-year-old naval aviator, consciously took the time to bring his four sons aboard his plane when he could, instilling a love of aviation in his children from the start. Through these inspiring trips to the flight deck, DeWalt and two of his brothers closely followed in their father’s footsteps, undertaking long naval careers before eventually entering commercial aviation.

“My dad has always inspired me,” DeWalt said. “But after a career of almost 28 years as a naval aviator and communications officer, I wanted to transfer my flying skills to the commercial aviation industry and I was fortunate enough to do so here at American Airlines. “

Mike DeWalt may be the newest DeWalt rider to join the team, but he’s very proud to be part of the American family, which includes two members of his own. His older brother, Rod, is a Dallas-Fort Worth-based Boeing 737 captain, while his younger brother, Chip, is a 737 first officer based in Washington, DC.

Even though the DeWalt brothers have very different schedules, their paths sometimes cross. This month, by total surprise, the three brothers met at the Miami International Airport and stopped for a quick catch-up.

“When we are able to bring everyone together, family reunions make for some great stories of theft,” added DeWalt. “My brothers and I are very close, and we have been fortunate enough to grow up with each other – and now while we are here at American.”

Another new recruit, Paige Rogers, a first officer of the 737, also developed a love of flying at a young age, thanks to her mother, who at the time was an American captain.

“When I was really young I would tell everyone I wanted to be a pilot,” Rogers said.

Then, after September 11 and more difficult years for the airline industry that reduced the need for new pilots, Rogers changed course and instead focused on a career in medicine. Eventually, Rogers graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in biology and psychology, but her passion for aviation remained the priority.

In fact, while studying for the MCAT, she took a break to visit a local flight school for a lesson.

“I knew after this flight that I was supposed to fly,” Rogers said. “I had my private license before I got my MCAT score, and I never looked back. Fortunately, by this point the airlines had really regained the momentum they had lost before. ”

Of course, his childhood background as a pilot played a huge role in his journey to America. His mother, Captain Beverley Bass, known as the pilot whose plane diverted to Gander, Canada on September 11, as shown in the Broadway musical Come From Away, has never stopped encourage him.

“Having a parent in the industry obviously has huge benefits,” explained Rogers. “I knew from the start what life was like with this job. As important as my career is to me, having a family is just as important. My mom proved to me that you can have both. Rogers is keenly aware that her mother has faced many challenges throughout her career as one of the first women in a traditionally male-dominated role.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate all the women who have faced these obstacles head-on so that girls like me can follow in their footsteps,” she added. “I really believe we have the coolest jobs in the world, and I can’t thank my mom and the many others before us enough for giving us this opportunity.”

Will Sheriff Jr., currently American Airlines Cadet Academy flight instructor, grew up flying with his father, Captain Will Sheriff Sr., but first pursued a professional dancing career until he changes course in 2019.

“I might not be on stage anymore, but every time I step into the airport I trust my preparation and execute what I rehearsed,” Sheriff explained.

But he also knows that he owes a good part of his success to his father and to the network to which he gave him access when he needed it.

“Without the mentorship that my father and my mentors give me, I would be much less successful,” he added. “He’s been a pilot my whole life, so I’ve seen the example he sets inside and outside the cockpit, and he’s nothing short of a great aviator and leader.”

Every pilot on the U.S. team, from the most seasoned captains to new hires and those who found a love for aviation later in life, has a love and passion for a job that focuses solely on piloting. safe and expert from people across the world. And for those with family ties in the industry, that love strikes a little differently – and may continue for generations to come.

About George M. Lovelace

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