As Atlas takes delivery of the final four 747s, we are speaking to our colleagues across the organization about the impact this iconic aircraft has had on both their careers and their lives. Today, some of our dispatchers and crew schedulers reflect on the 747.
From the time he was a child, Atlas Dispatcher, Steven Turner knew he wanted to fly on a 747.
“When I was a kid, I watched TaleSpin, an animated television series that featured characters from the Disney film The Jungle Book flying planes, and it piqued my interest in aviation,” said Steven. “Then, when I was about ten years old, I received a flight simulator video game, and I was immediately hooked. I knew that when I grew up, I had to do something with aviation.”
After high school, Steven entered the Flight Dispatch Program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Shortly after graduating, he accepted a job at a regional airline as a dispatcher. He was working there when he heard that the regional airline’s national passenger airline partner was going to retire its 747s. Steven had always been fascinated by the aircraft, and one of his goals in life was to experience being a passenger on the plane.
“I immediately purchased a ticket from San Francisco to Narita, Japan using my employee discount,” said Steven. “Hearing that our passenger airline partner was retiring its 747 fleet, I didn’t want to waste another moment.”
At the airport, Steven talked to the gate agent about his love for the 747, and she placed him on a rear-facing seat in the upper deck, where his view out the window looked right at the aircraft’s engine.
“I couldn’t believe I had finally made it on to the Queen of the Skies,” said Steven.
Steven’s round trip ticket was a quick turn – he went through customs in Japan and turned right back around to Departures for a flight home, which confused some of the customs agents.
“The purpose of that trip was not to see the sights or travel to another country, but to get onboard the 747 and get the full experience of being a passenger on the plane.”
Since that flight, Steven landed a job at Atlas, where he has worked since 2018. As a flight dispatcher, he is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be familiar with in-flight procedures and must participate in annual flight observations to satisfy this requirement. As a result of these observation flights, he has had the opportunity to fly on the 747 to Hong Kong, Anchorage, Incheon, Miami and Cincinnati. (And sometimes, he even leaves the airport before his return flight!) Steven is thrilled that in his dispatcher role at Atlas, he gets to work with the 747, his dream plane, on a daily basis.
Aircraft Dispatcher Dave Taylor didn’t initially intend to pursue aviation as a career.
“I joined the United States Marine Corps looking for an assignment dealing with electronics, but I was assigned to Air Traffic Control and became an Aviation Operations Specialist,” said Dave.
He joined Atlas as a dispatcher in 2017, where he and his team have an integral role in every flight.
“As dispatchers, we are responsible for preparing every flight release, every day,” says Dave. “We deal with everything from the weather to specific airport information to fuel to briefing the crew. Along with the Captain, the dispatcher has a joint responsibility to execute each flight safely, meeting all requirements in the most efficient way.”
As part of his job as a dispatcher, Dave is required to fly once a year with an Atlas crew. It was on one of those flights that he reached what he considers the pinnacle of his aviation career.
“I had the opportunity to fly to Australia on a 747-8 during my second year with Atlas,” recalled Dave. “At that moment, I felt so accomplished. I was on one of the largest aircraft while working with some of the best in the business. I will never forget that flight!”
Atlas Lead Scheduler Jose Acabon-Pirir’s dream of a career in aviation took flight in middle school, when he had the opportunity to shadow a pilot while taking flying lessons. He attended Western Michigan University’s Pilot Program but switched his major to Aviation Flight Sciences, which was more affordable. After completing a summer internship with a national airline in the Crew Scheduling department, Jose decided to pursue it as a career.
As an Atlas Lead Scheduler, Jose is responsible for overseeing and assisting with the day-to-day operation functions of crew scheduling, ensuring on-time flight departures and compliance with all FAA regulations for all Atlas aircraft, including the iconic 747s.
“My team has the privilege of working with the 747 every day,” said Jose. “Boeing is not making any more after these four, so I’m proud to be one of the people that get to work with this historic aircraft.
“My team is very involved with the 747s, handling many of the behind-the-scenes functions. We coordinate aircraft schedules according to crew availability, mechanical requirements, weather, customs requests and government regulations and also advise about potential delays or cancellations.
“I’m proud that Atlas is taking delivery of the final four 747s. These aircraft will position our Company well for the future.”