In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re featuring our talented AAPI-identifying employees across the Company. AAPI Heritage Month is a time to reflect, celebrate and recognize the influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in our history, culture and achievements. Here at Atlas, we celebrate our Asian American and Pacific Islander colleagues and their contributions.
This week’s employee spotlight is on 767 First Officer Blythe Lutz. Blythe, who also is an instructor with the Human
Factors team, is from Hawaii. She has been with Atlas since June 2019 and recently married 777 Captain Andrew Lutz.
Hawaii is a unique place because there really is no majority there, everyone is part of the melting pot. My Dad is Okinawan and my Mom is Caucasian, or Haole, in Hawaiian. That makes me Hapa, which means “half” or “part of.” Most of the immigrants came to Hawaii during the sugarcane days. Christian missionaries who married Hawaiians were allowed to own land, which eventually led to the rich business owners overthrowing the Hawaiian Monarchy. Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Puerto Rican and Korean immigrants came to work on the sugarcane plantations, and after finishing their contracts, most elected to stay.
Growing up in Hawaii, I was aware that people looked different than I did, but everyone looks different there, so that was normal. I didn’t realize what a special childhood I had until I moved to the mainland for college. I did a lot of typically American things growing up like playing soccer and playing in the Marching Band, but I also was in a Halau and danced Hula when I was young, and I learned to play the Ukulele.
My Dad has been working as a flight attendant for a passenger airline for more than 50 years. He loves working and traveling as a flight attendant, and I observed that. In high school, I was assigned a career project in which I was to interview someone in the field I was most interested in. I came home and announced that I would interview my Dad. I often tell my husband Andrew that it is magic that my parents were able to raise three children in Hawaii on one modest income. My Dad is proud of what he has achieved but wanted more for me, as most parents do. So, he suggested that I become a pilot. He said we would get to fly to the same places, but I’d make a lot more money. Instead of letting me interview him for my career project, he set up an interview with one of the UAL pilots, Stan Snow.
My Dad has so many wonderful qualities, and I feel like I am standing on his shoulders. He is a hard worker and loyal. My intention is to follow his lead and continue to do the best I can every time I come to work.
After flight instructing, I worked at a 135 company flying UPS feeder routes in a C402/4 and a Metroliner. The single-pilot experience of night freight gave me confidence in my abilities.
My arrival at Atlas Air (then Southern Air) appears to be an accident, but I believe everything happens according to God’s plan for me. I applied at Atlas and a passenger airline in Hawaii (which was my preferred choice because I was trying to get back to Hawaii) at the same time in 2019. After interviewing at Atlas in Purchase, I didn’t hear back for weeks. Then I went to interview at the other company, which went well, but they wanted me to have crew experience and jet experience. Still not having heard back from Atlas, I attended the Women in Aviation convention and ran into Scott Anderson, who remembered interviewing me. He said they had been meaning to get back to me and immediately offered me a position on the 737 for Southern Air, to which I replied, “What is Southern Air?”
My intention was to get the 737-type rating and immediately apply to Hawaiian the following year. However, I met Andrew and have really loved working at Southern and now Atlas. The people are amazing, and our work-life balance is great.
Although it has been many years since I moved away from Hawaii for college, I always try to carry the Aloha Spirit in my heart. Aloha means a multitude of different things, but in my heart, it means caring for others and living in harmony with one another.
A bonus fact is that Aloha Spirit is a law that was passed for people who hold public office and work in the judicial system in Hawaii. They must treat their constituents with care and respect.
Today, the most important traditions to me are rooted in my faith in Jesus. I love going home to Mililani, and I am planning on being there much more often on the 767. But my life is no longer defined by being from Hawaii. I will always love returning, but my home now is wherever Andrew is.
People in Hawaii are able to make fun of each other and also love and respect each other. It is a special equilibrium that more people should appreciate and try to incorporate into their daily interactions. It is so easy to see red when we discuss hot-topic items, but we should remember to take a step back and know that is great that we all have different ideas and backgrounds. How boring would it be if we were all the same?