Father’s Day 2023: A Father and Son Fly High with the 747 ​

(L-R) Atlas Air Captain Michael James and his father Charles James.

For Atlas Air 747 Captain and Simulator Instructor Michael James, the 747 isn’t just the aircraft he pilots, it’s an important part of his family legacy.

In the 1960s, Michael’s dad, Charles James, was a First Officer for Pan Am on the 707 before moving over to fly the 747, which Pan Am first introduced to the world on January 22, 1970. It was at Pan Am that Charles met his future wife (and Michael’s mother) Diana, who was a flight attendant. The two got married and the family relocated to Berlin, Germany for Charles’ job.

(L-R) Michael’s mother-in-law Stanislava Pylypiak and Michael’s parents, former Pan Am Captain Charles James and wife, former Pan Am flight attendant Diana James.

“As a child in Berlin, I would go on weekend trips with my dad and I was able to sit in the flight deck while he flew the plane,” said Michael. “I always knew I wanted to be a pilot.”

Michael isn’t the only one of his parents’ children to pursue a career in aviation.

“My sister flies the 737 for United and my brother is a pilot who owns his own plane,” says Michael.

In February, Michael had the opportunity to take his family to see the final Queen of the Skies after it made its inaugural flight from Paine Airfield (PAE) to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

Atlas Air 747

Charles and Diana James with the final Queen of the Skies.

“My dad thought it was very cool that Atlas received the final 747,” said Michael. “We were all able to go into the flight deck and see the plane. My family had a great time.”

Michael has not yet flown one of the final 747s, but he is looking forward to the day that he does.

747 engine

Captain Michael James’ mother, former flight attendant Diana James, sits in the engine of the final 747.

Michael, who joined Atlas in 2015, says “I have managed to fly every model of 747 ever made – the 100, 200, 300, SP, 400, LCF, Dash 8. I have been flying the 747 since 2006 and it never gets old walking up to that aircraft!”