From Pilot to Pilot Hiring Lead: Grant Kasischke’s Remarkable Career with Atlas

Grant in the flight deck during his final flight as an Atlas Captain with his family waving in the background.

Grant Kasischke started with Atlas in 1992, the same year the company was founded. He was the 99th pilot to be hired to fly the 747 Classic, which was the only fleet Atlas had at the time. Since then, he has spent his entire career with Atlas, first as a 747 Captain, then as a Chief Pilot and now working in Flight Ops where he is the Pilot Hiring Lead, working with Human Resources to hire new pilots.

In 1980, Grant was a manager at a Ponderosa Steakhouse in Kalamazoo MI, when he decided to join the Navy. The Navy recruiter he spoke to asked if he’d like to learn to fly and the rest was history.

Grant during his time in the Navy.

“I did seven and half years of active duty and was then hired as a flight engineer at Pan Am,” said Grant. “At Pan Am, most of the flights at that time had flight engineers and typically you would work your way up from engineer to First Officer to Captain. I finished my time at Pan Am as a 747 Flight Engineer, which was key to my eventually getting hired at Atlas.”

At just 40 years old, Grant was the youngest person in his class. Some of the instructors were the first to ever fly a 747.

As we know, and the history books show, Atlas quickly expanded. Three years later, Grant was selected to be a Chief Pilot. He held several management and checking roles until his retirement in 2018.

As one might expect after a 32-year career at Atlas, Grant has a number of fond memories. Some of his favorite moments include:

  • Introducing the first 747-400s during a ceremony at the Boeing Museum as Fleet Manager.
  • Helping set up the Miami Training Center while serving as the Miami Chief Pilot.
  • Attending the New York Stock Exchange when Michael Chowdry’s son rang the morning bell the day Atlas stock went from the NASDAQ to the NYSE.

And, some of his favorite flights include:

  • Flying former British Prime Minister David Cameron on his economic tour in 2012, which included a stop in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and was the first time a British Prime Minister had visited the country since WWII.
  • Flying famous movie stars from Sydney, Australia to Las Vegas, Nevada on Near Year’s Eve in 2013 so they could see fireworks in two different time zones.
  • Piloting a relief flight to Nepal following a devastating earthquake in 2015. The crew worked to unload pallets by hand to move critical relief supplies from an Atlas charter flight into Kathmandu, a rare destination for B747. This mission was flown to support the humanitarian aid organization, Samaritan’s Purse.

Photo from the relief flight to Nepal that Grant piloted following a devastating earthquake in 2015.

Shortly After his retirement as an Atlas pilot, Grant spent some time continuing to fly on his own and piloted sea planes to the Bahamas. He subsequently returned to help the Atlas’ Chief Pilots Office with special projects and eventually shifted into Flight Operations, leading hiring efforts for new pilots.

“I love my job,” said Grant. “I get to work with a fine set of HR professionals. I take the most satisfaction out of communicating with crew that I helped hire, train or manage over the last thirty years. Atlas continues to evolve as the next generation rises to take the mantle,. Many of us veterans feel privileged to remain pertinent.”

“My career at Atlas has been wonderful and unique,” said Grant. “When I was flying, I had the ability to do different things, go to a variety of exotic destinations and fly virtually every model of the iconic B747. Atlas offers opportunities unparallel in the industry.”