Captain John Schumacher (far left) and FO Lauren Purnell (far right) with the students.
A team of seven Purdue University Aviation students recently spent two weeks in the Miami Training Center (MIATC) gaining real-world experience as part of their capstone project – defining problems and designing solutions.
The students worked on four projects within the MIATC: Pilot Hiring Data Analytics, Flight Operations Master Calendar, Jet Transition and Atlas Air Writing Style Guide. Each team had 20 minutes to present their findings to Flight Ops leadership.
A few students pose with FO Lauren Purnell (center).
“The capstone project, established as an integral component of Purdue’s Aviation Program, reinforces the significant contributions future talent can make on a well-established organization, such as Atlas,” said Leisa Spears-Snyder, Director of Workforce Development, Talent Acquisition. “Collaboration like this, between industry and education, is essential for the development of the industry pipeline.”
Atlas 777 First Officer Lauren Purnell and Captain John Schumacher are both Purdue Alumni and were instrumental in making this program happen.
“I’m so incredibly proud of what these students accomplished in just under two weeks,” said Lauren. “We gave them four challenging projects, with very lofty goals. Not only did they complete the projects, but they greatly exceeded our expectations with their deliverables. I hope this is the start of their professional journey with Atlas — we would be lucky to have any one of these students join the Company.”
“My experience at Atlas Air was a truly unique and unparalleled opportunity that left an unforgettable mark on my professional journey,” said Kyle Choi, one of the Purdue students who took part in the program. “The unique atmosphere and dynamic environment at Atlas Air provided me with insights and skills that have significantly contributed to my personal and career growth. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of such a remarkable experience. I am confident I will carry the lessons learned at Atlas Air with me throughout my future endeavors.”
Students during a tour of Miami International Airport (MIA).
Students in front of an Atlas aircraft at MIA.
Leslie Ann Reece.
Black History Month is an annual celebration that highlights the accomplishments of the Black and African Americans community and acknowledges their pivotal role in shaping U.S. history. Throughout February, as part of our observance of Black History Month, InsideAtlas will be featuring the stories of our Black colleagues throughout the Company. This week, we invite you to get to know Leslie Ann Reece.
Tell us about your journey to Atlas/Polar. How did you get here and how long have you been at the Company?
I am from Trinidad and Tobago. I immigrated to the United States with the goal of becoming a pilot one day. I started out working for one of Atlas’ service vendors and eventually, I moved over to Atlas Ground Ops. I was hired as a station rep and then I was promoted to supervisor, then assistant manager. Shortly after, I was promoted to Station Manager for JFK for Polar.
What is your favorite part about working in aviation? And, what is your favorite part about your job?
Atlas is such a diverse company. You get to meet people from all over the world. We all put our ideas together and work as one. I always say, ‘There is no ‘I’ in team.’ We all pick up the slack.
As the station manager and as a woman, I love that I get to boss all the guys around. LOL.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
As a female in this industry, the best advice I’ve received is to never undermine the power of what a woman can do. Always stay focused and do what you need to do. If there is something you want, stay focused and go for it!
So many people I have met in this industry have encouraged me, I have lots of support and connections, especially with women in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in aviation?
I would tell someone to stay curious and be committed to learning. The aviation industry is vast, and it continues to evolve. There are so many opportunities to learn. Be your own cheerleader! Push yourself and use all the tools you have. There is a lot to learn, keep going. Work hard, play harder!
What are some things you’re passionate about?
It is just a thrill for me to see where I am now! I have so many role models like Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to hold a pilot’s license. She is such an inspiration to me, as are the groundbreaking achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen, the African American military pilots who fought in World War II. I like to know that I can be a role model to someone coming up in the industry.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means a lot to me. It all goes back to the Black aviators I mentioned before who paved the way. This month shows us that no matter your color or race, you can put your mind to something and accomplish it. I hope this month represents that we are all the same, no matter our color. If we both have cuts, we both bleed.
What do you love most about working at Polar?
I have loved my job since my first day! When I was a little girl, my friends were playing with dolls, and I was playing with airplanes. I love that I have a job in aviation. Sometimes I get emotional that I am not the one flying the planes, but I think one day I will take flying lessons. I know I would be great at it!
The 767 being loaded with flowers for the first flight on Jan 17, 2024.
Each year, starting in January, air cargo volumes blossom with tonnes of flowers taking flight to be presented as bouquets. Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest holidays of the year for florists and the weeks leading up to this holiday are one of Atlas’ busiest peak seasons. In the United States, 80% of flowers imported are from Colombia.
This year, there’s more love in the air, when it comes to Atlas’ operation. On January 17, Atlas began operating a 767 filled with flowers out of José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) and into Miami International Airport (MIA).
“This was a logical next step for us,” said Arian Castellanos, Senior Manager Ground Ops Systems and Technical Solutions. “We’ve always had a strong presence flying flowers out of Bogotá, which is the largest market interms of volume. Expanding our Colombia operation into Medellín, the second largest flower market in Colombia, ensures we can meet the demand.”
Photo from inside the warehouse on Jan 17.
Frank Diaz, Senior Director Sales and Marketing added, “Bogotá produces mostly roses, but Medellín is a warmer climate, which provide different kinds of flowers like carnations and peonies. We used to take flowers from Medellín, pack them on a truck and ship them to Bogotá to fly to Miami but with the addition of this route, we can fly them out of Medellín, which saves time and allows them to arrive fresher.”
The 767 is also a new fleet type for our South America Operation and came at good time to serve Atlas’ flower peak.
“With our flower flights from Bogotá, we fly a 747,” said Frank. “Since Medellín is a smaller market, with less volume, we are able to leverage our 767. It’s exciting to bring in a new fleet type into the region as well serve a new market.”
In addition to creating a new market, the route has also grown the import business into Miami.
The aircraft prepares for departure out of MDE on Jan 17.
“Previously, we were importing flowers from Quito and Bogotá to Miami,” said Arian. “The expansion into Medellín increases our flights into the station and we now operate five flights a week on this route.”
“We are committed to this market,” said Frank. “Mother’s Day (in May) is our next peak and although the volume will drop after that, we will continue to fly flowers from Medellín. We are committed to meet the demand of the Colombian market and maintain our presence year-round.”
Key participants who made this route possible include Jorge Rosales, Senior Director of Security PAX, Latin America, Santiago Char, Atlas Air Station Manager in Bogotá and our local sales staff in Colombia.
Black History Month is an annual celebration that highlights the accomplishments of the Black and African Americans community and acknowledges their pivotal role in shaping U.S. history. Throughout February, as part of our observance of Black History Month, Tailwinds will be featuring the stories of our Black colleagues throughout the Company. This week, we invite you to get to meet O’Neil Hyatt.
O’Neil Hyatt, Atlas Air Loadmaster
Tell us about your journey to Atlas. How did you get here and how long have you been at the Company?
My journey to Atlas started in 2007, when I was working on 747 freighters for Evergreen Eagle and an industry colleague suggested that I apply to be a Flying Loadmaster with Southern Air. I was hired and over the next seven years with Southern Air, I learned how to overcome all kinds of challenges that can arise through loading and offloading 777 and 747 freighters. When Atlas bought Southern Air, I had an opportunity to return home to my family, so here I am today, working as a Loadmaster for the best and greatest freighter company in the United States – Atlas Air.
What is your favorite part about working in aviation? And, what is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of working in aviation is that no two days are the same. And it’s never boring – there are a myriad of challenges on a daily basis – from oversize freight, floating Unit Load Devices (ULD) and much more. When it comes to my job, I love the challenge of figuring out how to position the ULDs to balance out the aircraft.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
When in doubt, always ask questions. And when it comes to inspecting the aircraft, be thorough and keep safety top of mind.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in aviation?
Learn everything that is related to your job, and then learn all you can about the aircraft and the people that service the aircraft.
What are some things you’re passionate about?
Being able to share my knowledge with loadmasters and ground staff that are just starting out with Atlas.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is every month to me, I am always promoting self-respect and respect for all.
What do you love most about working at Atlas?
The collegial atmosphere that JFK management has cultivated for me, and my colleagues is fantastic. Management is always promoting teamwork. The work we do is stressful and knowing that I can count on my team for support is very reassuring. At JFK, know and believe, it takes a team.
(L-R) Atlas Air 747 Fleet Captain Thomas Vize, Rob Hunt and Atlas Air 747 Captain Joe Masone.
Atlas Air, official sponsor and travel charter partner to the Miami Dolphins, recently invited Dolphins offensive lineman Robert Hunt to take his skills off the field and into the flight deck to experience what it takes to be a pilot. Fans can watch Hunt as he swaps his cleats for wings in a special behind-the-scene feature, released today.
Hunt joined Atlas Air 747 Fleet Captain Thomas Vize and 747 Captain Joe Masone, in one of Atlas’ 747 flight simulators to learn flying fundamentals, from takeoff to landing. The experience blended the worlds of aviation and sport, two professions that both require an immense amount of training, focus and execution.
“It’s always our great pleasure to fly Rob and his teammates as our passengers, and now we had the amazing experience to fly alongside Rob in our 747 training simulator,” said Captain Vize. “It was incredible to see how much our crew has in common with professional football players. Rob works with his team in one of the most challenging environments, running play after play with a high level of success and safety. Same here at Atlas, where our core value is Safety and we fly over 60,000 flights a year to deliver for our customers. It takes a team to win, both on the field and in the skies.”
Atlas is proud to fly the Miami Dolphins throughout the football season around the US and internationally, transporting more than 150 players, coaches and support staff along with their luggage, equipment and cargo in Atlas’ custom VIP Boeing 747-400.
Watch the full video here.
The Distinguished Employer Award is presented to a company in the aviation industry that has demonstrated an overall commitment to the students of Vaughn College in the following ways:
- The company’s dedication to education through internship programs
- The continued commitment to the hiring of Vaughn College graduates
- Financial contributions to the college in support of The Fund for Vaughn College, Scholarship programs.
- Financial support towards student run initiatives such as the Student Leadership Society, The Student Experience Fund, a specific club or organization and continued support towards further advancing diversity as stated in our Core Values.
Atlas has a proud and long-standing partnership with Vaughn and has worked with the institution on various programs including; the University Pipeline program, sponsoring their golf fundraising event, attending their annual galas, and hosting Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, President of the college, as a speaker with the Atlas Air Worldwide Women’s Network for an International Women’s Day event.
Located in Queens, N.Y., Vaughn College is adjacent to LaGuardia Airport. Many members of the Atlas family across the organization were able to attend the reception including LaVerne Bowman, Vivian Cordero, Julia Crupi, Katia DeLoose, Sara Felder, Shelby Hodgson, Leisa Spears-Snyder, Heili Springsteen and Miyako Tomimasu.
Leisa Spears-Snyder, Director of Workforce Development, Talent Acquisition, and Sara Felder, Vice President, Associate General Counsel accepted the award on behalf of Atlas.
“I was honored to represent Atlas at the reception,” said Sara. “We have such a wonderful partnership with the college. Ten percent of our workforce in our New York office are Vaughn College graduates with even more working in other offices. Several of our employees are now teaching at Vaughn and countless more have mentored Vaughn students over the years. This month, we launched our first external mentorship program, where our colleagues serve as mentors to Vaughn College students.”
Said Leisa, “Our partnerships with top tier aviation programs are invaluable in creating equitable access to opportunities within Atlas for underrepresented groups. Vaughn College has done a fabulous job maximizing collaborations to ensure opportunities for their students, many of whom are first generation college and minority students. In May of 2023, Vaughn joined our Pilot Pathways to Success program. It’s truly an honor to work with them.”
Check out photos from the event below:
Spending years as a combat Army medic meant trauma was a part of Thomas’ daily life. His return to civilian life was marred by post-traumatic stress disorder. Thomas was anxious, depressed and withdrawn. He felt worthless and thought about suicide all the time.
Sadly, many of United States veterans struggle similarly to Thomas. Every day, approximately 20 Veterans die by suicide and K9s For Warriors is working to change that. As the largest provider of military passenger and cargo airlift globally to U.S. service members, our support for U.S. service members, veterans and their families extends beyond each mission through partnerships such as the one we have with K9s For Warriors.
Warrior Thomas with Titan.
In keeping with our commitment to improving the lives of others, Atlas closed out 2023 with a significant donation of $30,000 to K9s For Warriors. This was part of a matching campaign that was promoted on Instagram, featuring Thomas with his service dog Titan, an Atlas-sponsored dog, and Gary Wade, Senior Vice President, Security. In this Instagram video, details on the match campaign were provided, along with Gary’s insight into Atlas’ commitment to K9s for Warriors, “There’s nothing that makes you feel better than giving – that’s what it’s all about – and that is ingrained in the Atlas ethos. That’s what we believe in.”
According to Thomas, being paired with Titan has helped him get his life back.
“K9s for Warriors helped me be the father I needed to be for my children and the husband I needed to be for my wife…K9s gave me the gift of the life I wanted to live again.
Warrior Joey with Polar.
“All that was made possible from the generous support of Atlas Air. Atlas has gone above and beyond to make sure not only my life has been saved…but that I’m thriving in this new life. They have gone above and beyond to help other warriors as well and pair them with service dogs.”
At the end of the one day campaign, funds raised plus Atlas’ contribution totaled just shy of $60,000.
“That is the cost for us to pair two Warriors with their Service Dogs,” explained Carly Braun, Development Manager, Corporate Partners. “Or it covers about ten Warriors’ needs during their 21-day, residential training with us. It also equals 150 Warrior K9 essential packs to get the veterans started caring for their dogs. As you can see, there are multiple ways to say, major impact. We are so grateful to Atlas for their support.”
Warrior Zoey with Atlas.
To date, Atlas has sponsored three service dogs – Atlas, Titan and Polar – who have been matched with Warriors Zoe, Thomas and Joey respectively. For those interested in supporting K9s For Warriors, please click here.
Aircraft is the Fourth 777F to be Operated for MSC Air Cargo
Today, our Company announced it has taken delivery of a Boeing 777 Freighter, which we will operate on behalf of our customer MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA. Under the previously announced long-term ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) agreement, we are now operating four 777 Freighters on a global basis for MSC, enabling MSC to expand its reach and capacity for its customers. The inaugural 777F was delivered in November 2022, with the second and third 777Fs being delivered in July and November 2023, respectively.
This aircraft will complement the existing weekly service, including a route from Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
“The delivery of this fourth 777 Freighter that we are operating for MSC marks an incredibly exciting milestone of our long-term strategic partnership,” said Richard Broekman, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Sustainability, Atlas Air Worldwide. “We value our partnership and look forward to building upon our relationship with MSC as the company continues to grow its air cargo solution for its customers.”
“This latest 777 Freighter delivery represents a pivotal moment and significant milestone for our company as it marks the completion of our first set of aircrafts in partnership with Atlas Air. This new and enhanced fleet will empower us to elevate our offering, ensuring enhanced support for our valued clients and a stronger presence in the market” said Anders Matikka, Vice President, Air Cargo, MSC.
The 777 Freighter is the longest range and most capable twin-engine freighter flying, known for its high reliability, fuel efficiency and lower maintenance and operating costs. It has a range of 4,970 nautical miles (9,200 km) and a maximum structural payload of 235,900 pounds (107 tonnes). The 777 Freighter also meets quota count standards for maximum accessibility to noise‑sensitive airports around the globe.
Cargo Charter Operator of the Year Award.
Atlas Air recently took home top honors at the Air Charter Excellence Awards. Hosted by the Air Charter Association (ACA), the leading worldwide trade association for the air charter industry, this prestigious event recognized industry leaders for excellence in their field. Close to 500 executives attended the gala event near London, representing more than 150 organizations came together to network and celebrate the best of the air charter industry.
Awards are given in seven different categories and winners are selected through a combination of member voting and deliberations by the industry adjudication panel. Atlas Air was named Cargo Charter Operator of the Year, triumphing over a select group of competitors, each known for excellence in this challenging and dynamic segment of the air cargo business.
Graham Perkins accepts the award for Cargo Charter Operator of the Year.
Graham Perkins, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, EMEIA attended the awards ceremony and said, “I was very proud to receive this award on behalf of our Atlas Air Global Charter Sales Team – a group of outstanding professionals dedicated to our customers!”
Aircraft is the Third 777F to be Operated for MSC’s Air Cargo Solution
Graham Perkins (far left) with members of MSC and 777 Atlas Air Check Airman Verne Yoder (far right).
Today our Company announced that we have taken delivery of a Boeing 777 Freighter, which we will operate on behalf of our customer MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, as part of a previously announced long-term ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) agreement.
This is the third of four Boeing 777 Freighters that Atlas Air will operate for MSC, which will complement the existing weekly service and add an additional route from Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). The fourth aircraft is expected to be delivered later this year.
“The delivery of this new 777 Freighter is a proud moment for Atlas and testament to our long-term strategic partnership with MSC,” said Richard Broekman, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Sustainability, Atlas Air Worldwide. “We are proud to support the ongoing expansion of MSC’s air cargo solution by providing additional speed, flexibility and reliability to their existing network. We look forward to this third 777 Freighter entering into service for MSC, and will welcome the arrival of the fourth later this year.”
“This latest 777 Freighter delivery accounts for a strategic addition to our MSC Air Cargo fleet, enabling us to address the market’s constantly changing demands and reinforcing our commitment to enhancing trade connections for our clients. We are driven by innovation and bound to keeping up with digital transformation while offering air freight of top-quality services worldwide,” said Jannie Davel, Senior Vice President, Air Cargo, MSC.
MSC enters the air cargo industry with the longest range and most capable twin-engine freighter flying, known for its high reliability, fuel efficiency and lower maintenance and operating costs. The 777 Freighter has a range of 4,970 nautical miles (9,200 km) and a maximum structural payload of 235,900 pounds (107 tonnes). The 777 Freighter also meets quota count standards for maximum accessibility to noise‑sensitive airports around the globe.
Invests in Modern, Fuel-Efficient Aircraft to Serve Long-Term Airfreight Demand Growth
Today, our Company announced it has ordered two new Boeing 777 Freighters driven by ongoing strong customer demand for dedicated large widebody airfreight capacity, particularly for cross border e-Commerce shipping.
The two new 777 Freighters, which were booked earlier this quarter, are expected to be delivered in the second half of 2024. This strategic investment underscores the Company’s commitment to growing its 777F platform, and for providing leading-edge aircraft and service offerings to its customers, as well as creating more long-haul flying opportunities for its pilots.
As previously announced, the Company most recently ordered four 777 Freighters in 2021, which are placed on a long-term ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) agreement with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA. Three of these aircraft have been delivered, with the fourth 777 expected to be delivered in December 2023.
“We are excited to add these aircraft to our leading world-class fleet. These come at a time when retirements of older widebody freighters will significantly increase and when the introduction of new widebody freighter capacity will be limited. We have a deep pipeline of prospective customers interested in these 777 Freighters, and we’re confident in our ability to place them under long-term agreements,” said Michael Steen, Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Air Worldwide.
Mr. Steen added: “We have a strong and resilient business model that is highly diversified, with strong support from our investment partners, which combined with our unique market position will allow us to deliver our strategic growth plan.
This investment is consistent with our disciplined approach to capital allocation and meets our strict return guidelines for investing in aircraft. We anticipate this transaction will drive strong earnings and cash flow for Atlas, while providing value to our customers.”
The investment also serves as a testament to Atlas’ commitment to environmental stewardship. These new 777 Freighters – the highest payload and longest-range twin-engine freighter – deliver high reliability with less fuel use, a reduction of emissions, and a smaller noise footprint.
“We value our long-standing relationship with Atlas Air as the carrier expands its fleet and strengthens its position as one of the world’s leading air cargo operators,” said Brad McMullen, Boeing Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing. “The best-selling 777 Freighter is one of the most capable twin-engine freighters flying, and provides Atlas with the capacity, fuel efficiency and operational flexibility to move cargo and goods for its customers.”
Atlas and CSI Aviations teams together in CVG to formally kick of Pilot Pathways program.
Atlas Air hosted CSI Aviation at its Global Operations Center in CVG to formally kick off their Pilot Pathway Program. The Program is open to all pilots who enter and complete training with an Atlas partner training facility or a College or University and are referred to CSI Aviation as part of the Atlas Air Runway to Giant Pathway program. The Program will also be open to current and future CSI Aviation pilots who have completed two years of service with CSI Aviation. As a partner, Atlas Air will guarantee referred CSI pilots that meet all hiring requirements an interview for Atlas Air’s First Officer training program. Upon successful interview, program pilots will be offered a First Officer trainee position on the fleet of Atlas’s choice.
Members of the CSI Aviation team.
Additionally, Atlas Air will provide CSI Aviation with connections to Atlas Air pilots no longer eligible for Part 121 commercial operations.
“Our partnership with CSI Aviation opens up a pathway to equitable access to opportunities at Atlas,” explained Leisa Spears-Snyder, Director, Workforce Development. “It’s important that we offer multiple pathways to Atlas to meet the different requirements of the diverse workforce we are interested in attracting. This partnership will help strengthen the pipeline for a talented, diverse workforce.”
Althea and Leisa with members of the CSI Aviation team.
Leisa and the Atlas team met with William “Rock” Collins, President and Chief Operating Officer, Ian Dagley, Vice President, Flight Operations and Alex Katkov, Director, Flight Operations for an introduction, lunch and tour of Atlas’ state-of-the-art Global Control Center.
Jeff Carlson, Senior Vice President, Flight Operations, Matt Sturgis, System Chief Pilot and Jamie Handley, Vice President, Express Operations shared an overview of Atlas’ Flight Operations, while Kurt Albrecht, Regional Chief Pilot, Althea Arvin, Senior Director, Supply Chain Operations, Greg Kappen, Senior Director, Flight Operations and Ryan Piper, Senior Director Crew Scheduling & Training also shared their perspectives to further the CSI team’s understanding of Atlas’ operation and diverse portfolio.
“We are so proud to partner with such an outstanding organization and look forward to working together to create opportunities for pilots,” said Leisa. “The CSI partnership is the perfect career bridge to Atlas Air for early career pilots.”
Requirements for Pilot Hiring
Pilots selected for interviews with Atlas Air must meet these and other criteria:
- Complete the requirements for a high school diploma or equivalent
- Obtain a Commercial Instrument Pilot License
- Complete a background investigation
- Amass Commercial Pilot Experience: PIC: 1500 Hours Total Time; 800 Hours Multi-engine Time; SIC: 500 Hours Total Time,; 250 Hours Multi-engine Time
- Have Customer Service experience (working with external customers) and the following computer skills: Aviation Digital Data Service, Jeppesen Direct, Garmin Pilot, ForeFlight
For complete details and to determine eligibility, prospective candidates should contact Leisa Spears Snyder at Atlas: Leisa.Snyder@AtlasAir.com and/or Tisha Ray, Recruiter, CSI Aviation: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wright Brothers Pilot Award Certificate.
Former Atlas Air Captain Dave Heemstra retired as a 747 pilot in August 2021, but his aviation career is still going strong!
Since retiring from flying, Captain Heemstra has been serving as a Duty Pilot for Atlas. He was recently recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. This award is named in honor of the Wright Brothers, who built and flew the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane in 1903. The brothers were also the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
The award recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 years or more. Recipients are presented with a certificate and a lapel pin and are listed in the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award – Roll of Honor.
Captain Heemstra (left) receiving the award from the FAA.
Karen Henriques, Senior Manager System Chief Pilot, works closely with Captain Heemstra in his Duty Pilot role and shared what an asset he is to Atlas.
“Dave is always prepared. He never hesitates to go the extra mile. Whatever comes his way, he will stay with until it gets resolved. Even if the issue is outside his area of focus, he will not stop until he has identified a solution. He is a fantastic member of team and an all-around wonderful guy.”
When asked what receiving the award meant to him, Captain Heemstra said “Reflecting on my over fifty years in aviation, I find myself profoundly grateful to God for the extraordinary gift of flight. It has been a privilege to embark on not one, but two immensely fulfilling careers – first in the United States Air Force and later with Atlas Air. Receiving the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award marked the pinnacle of a rich and fulfilling career in aviation. I am humbled by the recognition and grateful for the countless memories that this journey has afforded me.”
Below is the nomination letter, written by Captain Heemstra’s wife Cheryl for the Master Pilot award, which details his aviation background and captures why he was chosen for this very prestigious honor.
Congratulations Captain Heemstra!
Nomination of Captain David L. Heemstra for the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award
Submitted by: Cheryl Heemstra
I am honored to submit this nomination for my husband, Captain David L. Heemstra, for the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. As his wife, I have witnessed firsthand his unwavering passion, dedication, and exemplary career in aviation. It is with great pride that I share his remarkable journey and accomplishments, which make him an ideal candidate for this esteemed recognition.
Growing up in Sheldon, Iowa, David’s love for airplanes took root during his childhood. Consuming every book about aviation in the town library, he nurtured his dreams of taking flight. His journey commenced on February 1, 1969, when, as a Boy Scout pursuing his Aviation Merit Badge, he embarked on his first airplane ride in an Alon Aircoupe A-2. This experience ignited his passion further, leading him to accomplish his solo flight in the very same aircraft. Little did he know that this experience would shape the trajectory of his life and instill in him an unwavering commitment to aviation.
During his high school years, David’s enthusiasm for aviation found a supportive mentor in his Industrial Arts teacher, Merwin Foster, who was also a licensed pilot. Recognizing David’s potential, Mr. Foster recommended him for a part-time job at the Sheldon Municipal Airport, where he worked diligently at M&B Flying Service, receiving invaluable training on aircraft maintenance and flying lessons from CFI Elmer Muecke. His dedication paid off, as he soloed a Piper Cherokee PA-28 at the age of 16, followed by soloing the Aircoupe just three days later. On his 17th birthday, he earned his Private Pilot License, and by his 18th birthday, he had obtained his Commercial Pilot License, subsequently adding a Multi-Engine rating. David’s commitment to excellence extended beyond piloting, as he also pursued an Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics License after receiving a letter of recommendation from A&P IA Merlin Bock, his supervisor at M&B Flying Service.
Eager to further his aviation career, David enlisted in the United States Air Force after high school. He excelled in Aircraft Maintenance School, graduating at the top of his class. As a crew chief on the B-52 Stratofortress in the 410 Bombardment Group at KI Sawyer AFB, MI, he continued his private flying endeavors while actively seeking opportunities to enter the cockpit of larger aircraft. In 1978, he volunteered for Flight Engineer duty and was subsequently stationed at Norton AFB, CA, in the 15th Military Airlift Squadron. This is where we met.
During his tenure, he flew as a Flight Engineer on C-141A/B cargo aircraft for ten years, serving as a flight simulator instructor and examiner. Additionally, he authored a script for a Cockpit Resource Management training film, “MAC 249, what are your intentions?”, which played a vital role in promoting more synergistic flight operations within the United States Air Force and the Australian Air Force. Simultaneously, David pursued higher education through Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, earning a BAS in Professional Aeronautics with a remarkable GPA of 3.7 in 1990, followed by a MAS in Aeronautical Science with a GPA of 3.9 in 1992, leveraging the educational benefits offered by the G.I. Bill.
Following his tenure at Norton AFB, David was stationed at Hickam AFB, HI, within the 89th Military Airlift Wing. As a Flight Engineer on VC-135 aircraft, he contributed to VIP transport operations for the nation’s military leaders. His passion for aviation extended beyond his military duties as he volunteered as an Aviation Merit Badge Counselor for local Boy Scouts, offering them unique experiences such as touring VC-135 aircraft or visiting the Air Traffic Control Center nestled within the crater of Diamond Head volcano. Hickam AFB served as his final assignment during his commendable 20+ years of service in the United States Air Force.
Upon retirement from the Air Force, David joined Atlas Air as a Flight Engineer on the Boeing 747aircraft. Eager to broaden his horizons, he acquired his Instrument Rating, Airline Transport Rating, and both CFI and CFII certifications. Committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise, he actively served as a CFII, Advanced Ground Instructor, and Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument at the Fort Meade Flying Club and Navy Annapolis Flight Center in the Washington D.C. area during his spare time. Remarkably, he has maintained his CFII License to this day. Seizing the opportunity to upgrade to First Officer, David participated in numerous 747 pilot training flights and dutifully supported 747 simulator operations as a Flight Engineer, preparing himself for the coveted promotion. When Atlas Air initiated the recruitment of First Officers, he was fully prepared and emerged as an exceptional candidate, seamlessly transitioning to this new role.
David’s passion for aviation extends beyond his personal accomplishments. In a heartwarming gesture, he selflessly offered flying lessons pro bono to Gary Cusimano, his son’s sixth-grade teacher, who shared his fascination with aviation. Within a mere 13.7 hours, Gary successfully soloed under David’s guidance, earning his Student Pilot Certificate, cementing David’s reputation as an exceptional instructor.
On October 8, 2002, David attained a 747 Classic Type Rating and subsequently acquired a 747-400 Type Rating. He achieved the pinnacle of his career when he was promoted to Captain on April 2, 2014, commanding flights on the 747-400/-8 and LCF, Boeing’s Dreamliner, truly exemplifying his expertise and versatility. Notably, David’s final flight held great significance, as he chose to fly a military charter passenger flight from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Baltimore Washington International Airport, transporting 251 service members. In a delightful twist of fate, the flight duration was precisely 7 hours and 47 minutes, a poignant conclusion to his remarkable journey. His esteemed colleague and friend, Captain Tony Baca, documented this memorable flight in a YouTube video, serving as a testament to David’s enduring legacy.
Having devoted 27+ years to Atlas Air, David’s exceptional achievements include operating almost all models of the 747 (excluding the SP) and occupying various seat positions—an extraordinary feat. Despite reaching the mandatory retirement age, Atlas Air recognized David’s immense value and invited him to continue contributing to Flight Operations as a Duty Pilot. In this capacity, he utilizes his piloting and maintenance expertise at the Global Command Center near Cincinnati Airport, serving as a liaison to facilitate effective collaboration between airline crews, flight dispatchers, crew schedulers, and aircraft mechanics, ensuring optimal operational and safety outcomes.
Throughout his remarkable career, David’s passion, commitment, and expertise have left an indelible mark on the aviation community, earning him the utmost respect and admiration from his peers and colleagues. His enduring legacy, characterized by exemplary piloting skills and an unwavering commitment to inspire and mentor fellow aviators, reflects the true spirit of aviation. Guided by his faith, David’s dedication extends to his family and fellow airmen, making him widely recognized as “a Pilot’s Pilot” embodying professionalism, skill, and expertise.
As I have personally witnessed his journey, I firmly believe that David epitomizes the ideals and legacy of the Wright Brothers, with his immeasurable impact as a consummate professional and mentor. It is with gratitude that I express my trust in your recognition of Captain David L. Heemstra’s exceptional contributions, rendering him highly deserving of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. By acknowledging his profound achievements, you not only honor his remarkable career but also inspire future aviators for generations to come. I extend my heartfelt appreciation for considering this nomination and providing the opportunity to recognize a pilot who has made a significant difference in the aviation industry and touched the lives of many.
Vincent (Vince) Ryan, Polar’s Senior Director, Global Key Accounts, kicking off the general session.
Atlas and Polar leaders took center stage last week at The Air Cargo Americas & Supply Chain Americas Show and Conference in Miami.
Vincent (Vince) Ryan, Polar’s Senior Director, Global Key Accounts, kicked off the general session, welcoming attendees to the conference and highlighting the importance of connecting with each other during the event.
“Making Connections is Polar’s purpose,” said Vince. “Connecting our customers’ cargo with its destination, of course, but equally important to us is connecting with each other… with our peers, our partners, and our customers. Today we are proud to continue to make connections with all of you.”
Polar’s booth, complete with a coffee cart to encourage connections at the conference.
Vince invited attendees to join him and his colleagues at the Polar booth, which was designed as a coffee bar for attendees to connect with each other while enjoying a hot beverage.
Atlas’ Richard Broekman, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Sustainability, followed Vince with a captivating keynote that emphasized the role air cargo plays in keeping global supply chains moving.
“While only about 1% of global trade volume goes by air, airfreight represents 35% of global trade value,” said Richard. “That is almost $7 trillion of value. Air cargo is a powerful enabler of international trade. It provides fast and efficient access to global markets. And it is driving increased innovation and efficiency in supply chains.“
Richard Broekman (far right) speaking on his panel Embracing Sustainability in Freight Transportation: Overcoming Challenges and Driving Change.
Richard highlighted Atlas operations and touched on global industry topics including historic cargo growth, freighter retirements, production, passenger demand, digitization and sustainability.
“While airfreight provides a lot of value and is critical to the global economy, it is also an emissions intensive industry,” said Richard. “Transporting freight over long distances, requires a lot of energy and energy dense fuel which makes ours a hard to abate industry. We need to take our collective responsibility and work together on reducing supply chain emissions for our end customers.”
Milind (far right) with his fellow panelists after their panel “Cargo Platforms Ascend: Unveiling the Trends in Online Cargo Booking”
On the second day of the conference, Polar’s Milind Shah, Director, Technology & Business Solutions, joined the “Cargo Platforms Ascend: Unveiling the Trends in Online Cargo Booking” panel. Brandon Fried, Executive Director of The Airforwarders Association, moderated the panel, which focused on the transformation of the logistics industry with the advent of online cargo booking platforms.
Joining Milind on stage were Tristan Koch, Chief Commercial Officer, Awery Aviation Software; Chris Mazzeo, VP Global Operations, Amerijet International Airlines; Olivier Houri, Executive VP & Chief Revenue Officer, SmartKargo; and Edip Pektas, Founder, AirBlox. The panel explored how real-time demand governs operations and the cutting-edge portals that are revolutionizing the global forwarding community, as well as the transformative power of digital solutions to reshape the traditional logistics landscape.
Prior to the start of the conference Atlas’ Luis Fernando del Valle, Richard Broekman and Frank Diaz met with the teams from Kuehne +Nagel and Elite Flowers at the Elite Warehouse. Elite Flowers is the the largest exporter of flowers in Colombia and globally.
In support of digitization, Milind highlighted transparency as a benefit to customers and the industry overall, “We should not shy away from sharing information, transparency benefits us all – customers, partners & employees alike.”
On the third and final day of the conference, Richard Broekman returned to the stage and joined Juan Carlos Liscano, Vice President for Miami, the Caribbean & Latin America, American; Bruce Brecheisen, Executive Vice President, Seaboard Marine and Cristina Oñate Vice President, Marketing & Product Development, LATAM Cargo for the “Embracing Sustainability in Freight Transportation: Overcoming Challenges and Driving Change” panel.
Moderated by Mark Szakonyi, Director & Executive Editor, Journal of Commerce, the panel discussed the challenges to achieve a path to sustainability in the freight transportation industry. The session shed light on how transportation and logistics providers are proactively responding to government regulations, environmental concerns, and shifting industry trends. By reevaluating their operations and embracing innovative approaches, these providers are paving the way for a greener and more sustainable future.
“We can only decarbonize by closely working together with all stakeholders in the supply chain,” explained Richard. “Our customers look to us for solutions to help them reduce their scope 3 emissions related to their supply chain/logistics. We need to develop service offerings that address that need.”
Aviation industry leaders gathered in San Diego last week at Cargo Facts’ annual symposium to share insights and analyses on developing market trends while providing an outlook on the air cargo industry
Michael Steen (second from right) with fellow panelists at the opening session of the Cargo Facts Symposium.
CEO Michael Steen took the stage for the opening panel session, “The global freighter market: Where is air cargo headed in 2024 and beyond?” The panel provided a glimpse into market trends and the growth potential of the freighter market worldwide.
Michael got the opportunity to open and close the panel and touched on topics regarding the status and outlook of the global freighter fleet as well as Atlas’ fleet strategy and continued customer diversification.
Regarding widebody capacity, Michael offered, “There are approximately 650 widebody freighters in the world today and approximately 125 of them are older than 30 years. This includes MD-11Fs and some of the earlier 747-400 production and converted freighters. We will consequently see a large number of retirements over the next five years, which is something we haven’t seen for two decades. This will coincide with a continued growth in airfreight demand and the planned new production and conversion capacity coming into the market will not be enough to fill the gap.”
Other speakers on the panel included Andres Bianchi, Chief Executive Officer, LATAM Cargo; Fatih Cıgal, Senior Vice President of Cargo Marketing, Turkish Airlines; Richard Corrado, Chief Executive Officer, ATSG; and Diogo Elias, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, Avianca Cargo.
Later in the morning, Eamonn Forbes, Chief Commercial Officer of Titan Aviation Leasing, participated on the panel, “Freighter leasing: Implications of the growing order backlog.”
Eamonn Forbes and the freighter leasing panel at Cargo Facts Symposium.
Eamonn was joined by Pablo Aguirre, Chief Commercial Officer, Nexus Aviation Ventures and Shelley Raina Talwar, Vice President of Airline Strategy and Analysis, Avolon. The group discussed building momentum on the new generation of freighters, investing in and becoming early adopters of new programs, and provided an update on capital costs and their implications for the lessor community.
When discussing if Titan would potentially invest in A321 freighters and add more 737-800Fs to its portfolio, Eamonn said, “We’re generally open to it. We aren’t actively converting narrowbodies right now; we see probably a little bit of oversupply at the moment so we’re not rushing into it, but I think down the line we’ll be having more 737-800s, whether they be Boeing, AEI or IAI. And certainly on the A321, I would see us playing in that market down the line as well.”
Each year in the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month – a celebration of Hispanic history, culture and achievements – is observed from September 15 – October 15. Today we introduce you two of our colleagues who share what their culture means to them.
Erika celebrating the final 747 earlier this year.
Erika Melany Barcenes, Senior Aircraft Maintenance Planner
How long have you been with the Company, and what are your primary responsibilities?
I have been with Atlas Air for six years. I started as contractor for the aircraft records department and joined the company as a full-time employee six months later. A year later, I moved over to maintenance planning department, where I have been since. I was living in New York and working out of our headquarters; but moved to Cincinnati (CVG) last year.
As part of maintenance planning, my team is responsible for preparing A-checks, C-checks, Scheduled Engine Change (SER), Scheduled Apu Change (SAR) and line work orders. The beauty of this work scope is that the work gets scheduled all over the world and we work hand-in-hand to ensure that stations are well equipped and prepared, so the operation goes as planned. This is done for every aircraft on our Atlas and Polar fleet as we must ensure that all our aircraft are safe and compliant at all times.
Erika flying with two pilot friends who also happen to be Hispanic pilots. (L-R) Erika, William Daza, who is Colombian, and Christian Ramos, who is Salvadorian.
How did you get your start in aviation and what is the best part of aviation?
I was born in Jamaica, Queens in New York. My family is from El Salvador and I’m the first one in my family born in the United States. Growing up, we often visited my family in El Salvador and I would spend summers there with my grandparents. As a kid, I loved being on an airplane and feeling the adrenaline rush when the plane took off the runway.
As I got older, I knew I wanted to get involved in aviation. I went to Vaughn College to obtain a bachelor’s degree in aviation and took the opportunity to become a pilot, one of my childhood dreams. I am a commercial pilot but am not currently flying due to a medical issue. After I graduated from Vaughn College, the school helped me find work in the aviation industry. I started at Emirates Airline working in ticketing, customer service and sales for three years, before a colleague of mine Kinlok Poon (Sunny) here at Atlas, referred me to the Company.
I love being part of the maintenance planning department and that I get to communicate with teams from different parts of the world. My team is very close, and we all look out for each other. Our Senior Director Michael Henry and Senior Manager Jason Jerrick are amazing to work with, and we go to them when things become challenging, and we need to find a solution. We have different groups based on our fleet types. Communication is extremely important in our department so that we do not make any errors. Our work is very challenging everyday but that’s what I love the most about it. I love trying to find solutions, it keeps me alert. I’m always busy and I never get bored. I’m always learning new things within the department.
Erika took this photo while on vacation visiting the Tamanique Waterfalls in El Salvador.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for Hispanics from all different backgrounds to be celebrated, recognized and acknowledged for the work that we do in the United States. My parents, along with so many others, work hard and are the backbone of this country. I love that we have a month to celebrate each other and our contributions to this amazing country.
How are you Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this Year?
When I lived in New York, we would always go to festivals and eat food from all different Hispanic cultures. My favorite food from El Salvador are pupusas, a thick corn tortilla that can be stuffed with various fillings, including various meats, refried beans, cheese and vegetables.
A photo Erika took of sunrise in El Salvador near the Pacific Ocean in the Libertad (a municipality in the country) as she was exploring the mountain views by the ocean.
The filled corn tortillas are then cooked to perfection on a traditional grill referred to as a comal. The best thing is that they can be eaten at any time.
This year, I’m excited to be in Cincinnati and see what the celebrations are like here. I will definitely be trying Hispanic restaurants in the area.
737 Captain Pedro Iraheta Garcia Prieto in the cockpit.
Pedro Iraheta Garcia Prieto, 737 Captain
How long have you been with the Company, and what are your primary responsibilities?
I joined Atlas Air in 2017 as a First Officer on the 767. I upgraded to Captain on the 737 in January 2022. In November, I will return to the 767 and will start my training as a Captain on that fleet.
My primary responsibilities are to ensure the safety and security of the operation of the aircraft as well as that of the crewmembers and passengers onboard. I am also responsible for adhering to Company and FAA regulations.
Pedro during his upgrade ceremony to Captain with Senior Director Flight Procedures Training and Standards John Schumacher.
How did you get your start in aviation and what is the best part of aviation?
I have known I wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember. I grew up in El Salvador and was introduced to flying at an early age. My grandfather was a pilot and had his own airplane and my father’s good friend was a well-known and well-respected pilot for TACA International Airlines on the 767 in El Salvador. I have so many memories of visiting the flight deck of the 767 whenever we flew commercial. It fascinated me and that’s where the dream of becoming a 767 Captain started.
After high school, I came to the United States to go to Embry-Riddle. I started my career in Peru, which is where I first saw an Atlas Air 747. It wasn’t until four years later, when I returned to the U.S. and was attending an aviation fair, that Atlas Air became a real possibility for me. I left my resume with a recruiter and my dream of flying the 767 was realized when I was hired as a First Officer on that aircraft.
In addition to making my dreams come true, I would say the best part about aviation is bringing people together. The most rewarding part of my job is when I bring service members home to their families.
Pedro with his family.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to showcase our culture, our traditions and our contributions. I have a strong desire to help people; I am the Co-Chair of our Union’s Mentoring Committee and I have supported pilots from other countries looking for jobs in the United States. I trace this to my upbringing – my family comes from a long line of coffee farmers and I was raised to treat everyone the same way, regardless of their economic position, and to lend a helping hand whenever possible.
Pedro in the cockpit with his children.
How are you Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this Year?
I don’t think my family and I specifically celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, because we live it. The most important thing to me and my wife – who’s from Peru – is that we keep our heritage front and center for our two children, since they are growing up so far from where we are from. We speak Spanish at home, we eat Spanish food and we stay connected with our families in El Salvador and Peru.
(L-R) Captain David Telshaw, First Officer Vanessa Riveiro and Captain Tom Vize at the airshow.
Hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts from around the world converged at the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin from July 24-30 for the 70th Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Oshkosh Airshow.
Old warbirds, modern fighter jets and commercial aircraft were featured, but it was N718BA, the Boeing Dreamlifter – one of the world’s largest cargo airplanes – that stole the show.
747 Fleet Captain Tom Vize, 747 Captain David Telshaw and 747 First Officer Vanessa Riveiro brought the Dreamlifter in on Sunday, July 23rd from Wichita. The airplane was on display at Boeing Plaza, right at the heart of the grounds, for three days.
Beginning in 1953, EAA AirVenture has grown from a small aviator gathering to what is now known as one of the world’s greatest aviation celebrations.
(L-R) First Officer Vanessa Riveiro, Captain David Telshaw and Captain Tom Vize snap a selfie from the cockpit.
“It was an amazing experience to share our passion with hundreds of thousands of other aviation enthusiasts!” said Tom. “Captain David Telshaw and First Officer Vanessa Riveiro offered invaluable support as we answered questions about the Boeing Dreamlifter from the thousands of interested fans. As always, I was proud to represent Atlas.”
Fun fact! Just before the start of the airshow, Atlas marked the 13th anniversary of its first Dreamlifter flight on July 20. The Boeing Dreamlifter, also known as the Large Cargo Freighter, is truly one of a kind, with three times the capacity of a 747-400 Freighter and an enlarged fuselage and swinging tail that allows the airplane to carry 787 Dreamliner major subassemblies across three continents!
Check out more photos from the show below!
The Dreamlifter, front and center at the airshow.
Thousands of women and young girls came out to WomenVenture at EAA AirVenture to honor the 30th anniversary of women flying in combat, celebrate female aviators of the past and inspire the girls who will be the future of flight.
The Dreamlifter landing at the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) for the airshow.
The Dreamlifter crew, Captain Tom Vize (far left), First Officer Vanessa Riveiro (middle) and Captain David Telshaw (far right) with members of the EAA AirVenture 2023 GirlVenture Camp. The GirlVenture program, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is a four-day immersive aviation and aerospace experience for young women, 9th-12th grades, designed to introduce them to aviation and aerospace careers. There were 100 participants and 26 mentors involved in this year’s program.
Captain Tom Vize greets fans from the escape hatch of the Dreamlifter.
Atlas Air 767 Captain Aileen Watkins (left) with her two children and the Dreamlifter crew. Said Aileen about the event, “One of the coolest parts of AirVenture is seeing friends old and new… it’s like walking through my aviation life every year, covering over 40 years of relationships with those who share my passion. It was an incredible opportunity for the public to see the Dreamlifter and to share that experience with our families.”
(L-R) First Officer Vanessa Riveiro, Captain Tom Vize and Captain David Telshaw.
(L-R) Captain Tom Vize, 767 Captain Aileen Watkins (Aileen was previously an Atlas Air 747/Dreamlifter Captain) and First Officer Vanessa Riveiro.
Aircraft to be Operated for MSC’s Air Cargo Solution
Today, our Company announced it has taken delivery of a Boeing 777-200 Freighter, which it will operate on behalf of its customer MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, as part of a previously announced long-term ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) agreement.
N708GT, the Second of Four B777-200Fs Operated by Atlas Air on Behalf of MSC
This is the second of four Boeing 777-200 Freighters that Atlas Air will operate for MSC, which will complement the existing weekly service for the world’s largest shipping company. Currently, MSC is offering around-the-world service to airports such as Mexico City (NLU), Indianapolis (IND), Liege (LGG), Seoul (ICN) and Xiamen (XMN).
“Building on the successful launch of MSC’s Air Cargo Solution, we are very pleased to welcome this second 777 delivery as part of our long-term strategic partnership. We expect our remaining two 777 aircraft to be delivered in the fourth quarter,” said Michael Steen, Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Air Worldwide. “We value the trust that MSC has in Atlas Air to support the expanding requirements of their global network, and are excited to leverage our expertise and industry-leading solutions.”
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Delivery of N708GT; From Left to Right: Chris Dwyer (Boeing), David Cyrus (MSC), Graham Perkins (Atlas Air), Gavin Deeks (MSC), and Tony Slama (Boeing)
“The delivery of our second MSC branded aircraft represents another strategic component towards our offering that further connects trade lanes for our customers. In partnership with Atlas Air, we have built a solid foundation on which to expand our air cargo solution” said Jannie Davel, Senior Vice President Air Cargo at MSC.
(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).
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.
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!”
DSV’s customers in attendance included many of the semiconductor industry giants such as Intel, ASML, TSMC and also Rivian (Electric Vehicles).
It was recently announced that Danish logistics powerhouse DSV A/S plans to expand its current US program with Atlas Air to provide dedicated transport – utilizing Boeing 747F cargo aircraft – connecting via its newest U.S. hub location, Mesa, Arizona.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on May 16 at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) to inaugurate the latest location in DSV’s airfreight network. At the request of DSV, Atlas diverted an aircraft through AZA and parked it at the airport for the duration of the event.
A large delegation, including DSV senior management, customers and media were on hand to receive the aircraft and witness the ribbon cutting. The event was covered by several news outlets including FreightWaves, STAT Trade Times and Air Cargo News.
Attendees in front of an Atlas 747 at the ribbon cutting event.
Service to Phoenix-Mesa from Asia will eventually piggyback on an existing operation provided by Atlas to DSV’s original U.S. hub at Huntsville International Airport (HSV) in Alabama. Those flights continue to Miami and then connect Atlas’ South America network operating into São Paulo, Brazil. With the addition of Mesa, DSV aims to offer multiple weekly connections through the new hub to grow its offering within the semiconductor and electric vehicle industries.
“At Atlas, we are more than just a service provider – we are a trusted partner to our Customers,” said Paul Drew, Atlas’ Senior Director, Sales & Marketing and Business Development. “We are proud to have played a key role in supporting DSV’s inauguration event in Arizona and we remain committed to providing exceptional service that will drive their growth and success in the semiconductor and electric vehicle industry. Our team is excited to continue collaborating with DSV as they build their new verticals, and we look forward to helping them achieve their long-term goals.”