Atlas-operated Boeing Dreamlifter Steals the Show at AirVenture 2023

(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!





(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!”

Atlas Air Event

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 FreightWavesSTAT Trade Times and Air Cargo News.  

Atlas Air 747

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.”

Atlas Air 747

The Atlas team with our 747 at the event.

The Atlas Air team recently made history at the Spring 2023 Recruiting Expo at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The expo hosted 1,489 students and 112 employers and was covered in the local student newspaper.

Atlas flew in a 747-400 for students to tour during the event. The aircraft departed Miami International Airport (MIA) and touched down at Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), which is adjacent to the Embry-Riddle campus, where students watched it land.

Atlas’ static display was the most attended exhibit the University has ever had. The event spurred record-breaking numbers with over 650 students, faculty and friends participating in the B747 tour.

Leisa Spears Snyder, Director of Workforce Development, recalled, “The best part about working on this project was the strong, cross-departmental collaboration that is a direct reflection of what we do in our operation every day.”

Atlas Air 747

A view of the 747 on the runway.

Continued Leisa, “Our team made what seemed to be impossible, possible. Atlas Air has created a passionate fan base at Embry Riddle and we look forward to continue watching it grow.”

The static display not only created interest, but it also sparked enthusiasm among a budding community of aviators. There was a continuous flow of students eager to learn more about the Company from the 12 Atlas representatives at the Company’s booth. Employee ambassadors were on point to welcome the students, share more about Atlas and answer any questions.

Highlights from the event included:

  • 40+ Atlas Team Members (on the scene and behind the scenes)
  • 138 Resumes Collected (with additional resumes being forwarded daily)
  • 200+ University/Internship and Pathway to Success Flyers Distributed
  • 350+ Bottles of Water Served
  • 500+ Students Engaged in Conversation
Atlas First Officers

Mother and Son Atlas First Officers Vanessa Riveiro Eduardo Briceno Riveiro.

For the Riveiros, aviation is truly a family affair. First Officers Vanessa Riveiro and her son, Eduardo Briceno Riveiro, are Atlas’ first ever mother/son pilots. But the passion for aviation in this family doesn’t stop there.

“My parents are both pilots,” said Eduardo. “My father is now a retired Captain, after 45 years with a commercial airline as a pilot on the 747 and 777. My mother, Vanessa, always had a love for aviation and used to take me up in a Cessna when I was a teenager in Seattle, Washington. She dreamed of a career as a pilot but put those plans on hold to raise four children.”

A few years ago, after her kids were grown, Vanessa got back into aviation working at DHL. While living in Panama City, she would fly in and out of Miami International Airport (MIA), where she had an exceptional view of Atlas 747s.

“The aircraft was breathtaking,” said Vanessa. “I had a lot of interaction with the Atlas pilots, and I chatted with 747 Captain David Luse [who is now retired] and 747 Captain George Kuhn about the Company and felt that it would be a good fit for me.”

Atlas cockpit

Eduardo and Vanessa in the cockpit.

After completing her FAA ATP (Federal Aviation Administration Airline Transport Pilot) rating, Vanessa joined Atlas as a First Officer on the 767 in December 2019.

The happiness of achieving her dream was soon replaced with uncertainty only a few months later. Vanessa wanted to return to her home in Panama, but was unable to due to the country’s strict COVID rules during the pandemic.

“It was during this time that Atlas truly became my family and kept me going,” said Vanessa. “Although I couldn’t return home, I was able to see a number of new places around the world. We did a lot of military flying during this time, which I really enjoyed.”

Atlas Aircraft

Eduardo and Vanessa in front of an Atlas aircraft.

At this same time, Vanessa’s son Eduardo was working as a flight instructor with the hopes of completing his requirements to join a regional airline. It took longer than expected, due to the pandemic.

“I was frustrated and often talked to my mother about it,” said Eduardo. “She has always been a mentor to me, personally and professionally. She told me all about Atlas, how much she enjoyed flying with the company and how she believed in its values and the amazing people who worked there. She thought it would be a great place for me one day. That kept me going.”

After completing his ratings and hours, Eduardo landed an interview at Atlas with the help of Captain Christopher Grable who referred him, and he joined the June 2022 767 New Hire class.

For Thanksgiving in 2022, both Vanessa and Eduardo were on the road when they had a great surprise. Eduardo was scheduled to take an observation flight and Atlas’ training and scheduling department worked to have him observe his mother’s flight.

“It was such a special moment for me,” said Vanessa. “These are the little things the Company does to make pilots feel special.”

Eduardo shared, “On that flight, I got to feel like part of the crew. It was amazing to watch my mom fly.”

Vanessa and Eduardo.

“I love that we both work at Atlas,” said Vanessa, who has since transitioned to the 747. “Although we are not currently flying the same aircraft, we are on the same team. We always try to meet up when we can and we talk about how we can work to be better crewmembers. I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d be doing this together.”

As for Eduardo, he loves telling other Atlas pilots about his mom.

“When I tell anyone at work that my parents are pilots, most people first ask about where my dad works,” said Eduardo. “One of my favorite things is when I can share with them that my mom is not only a pilot, but an Atlas pilot. I am proud to be First Officer Vanessa Riveiro’s son.”

The next generation of aviation professionals holds the key to our industry’s long-term growth and success, which is why investing in talent pipeline development is a priority at Atlas Air. 

We recently announced that Atlas has partnered with two schools, Purdue University and Vaughn College, for our University Pipeline Program.

The University Pipeline Program is designed to grow Atlas Air’s pipeline of qualified applicants in high-demand positions and to increase employment opportunities for these college graduates.

“We are excited to officially welcome both Purdue University and Vaughn College to this program,” said Patricia Goodwin-Peters, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Atlas Air Worldwide. “Over the years, Atlas has partnered with both schools on a multitude of projects and events, and we are delighted to work with them to further develop the future talent pipeline for Atlas Air.”   

“Vaughn is so pleased to deepen our partnership with Atlas Air and provide an expanded pipeline of talented, diverse graduates who want to contribute to the company’s success,” said Dr. Sharon DeVivo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vaughn College. “This is another example of Atlas’ commitment to developing, hiring and promoting aviation professionals and investing in our students – the next generation that will change the world.”

“We are very pleased to partner with Atlas Air in providing talented graduates to meet the growing demand for this sector of the aviation ecosystem, said Mike Suckow, Professor of Practice and Associate Head for Engagement, Purdue University. “We commend Atlas for their forward thinking and recognition that as a comprehensive university we develop talented individuals for Tech Ops and Ground Ops along with Flight Ops.”

To read more about the partnerships and criteria for each program, click here:

·       Vaughn College Pipeline Program

·       Purdue University Pilot Program

An Interview with Jihyeong (JH) Yoo, Ground Ops Agent in Incheon (ICN)

Atlas Air Employee

JH Yoo

Here at Atlas, our people are the source of our strength and what drives our business forward. Their collective skills and experiences contribute to our competitive advantage and are what enabled the safe operation of 61,000 flights, serving 265 destinations in 60 countries in 2022. 

Today, we introduce you to a member of our world-class team, Jihyeong (JH) Yoo, Ground Ops Agent in Incheon (ICN). We were introduced to JH Yoo from Acis Tiew, Ground Instructor who described her as “energetic, enthusiastic and a quick learner, respected by her whole team.” 

JH, how long have you worked at Atlas?  

I have worked at Atlas since July 2022, which makes me the newest member of the Incheon Ground Ops team. I’m so honored to be part of this group of wonderful people. Before joining Atlas, I worked as a Loadmaster with the ground handling agency Sharp Aviation K in Incheon. I was responsible for handling Atlas operations, which was good experience for my current job.  

Where are you from?  

I am from South Korea. I lived in the western part of Seoul (capital of Korea) until I was 15 years old. This is the location of Gimpo Airport, which has both domestic and international terminals. There are restaurants, malls and a movie theater at the airport, so I spent a lot of time with my family and friends there when I was younger.   

When I think about my childhood, I remember the airplanes, the passengers, and the people working at the airport. I also recall airplanes flying in the sky every day above my neighborhood, which was home to many airline workers, particularly flight attendants. 

I think my growing up near the airport is the reason why I went into aviation. 

 Where did you go to school and what did you study? 

I received my bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at Kyeongi University in Seoul. I studied English and the literary works of famous writers such as Shakespeare and Jane Austen, as well as poetry, novels, literature and non-fiction. 

My father, who frequently traveled abroad for business, enjoyed telling me about the countries he had been to, and, perhaps because of this, I have been interested in foreign languages since I was young. When I decided to study English in college, I was sure that English would be helpful in any form, and I wanted to live a life using English in the future.  

How did you get involved in aviation?  

I was looking for an opportunity to work at an airport because of living so close to Gimpo Airport as a child. In March 2016, after graduating from college, I got a job with the Ground Handling Agency, AIR KOREA at the domestic terminal of Gimpo. While there, I worked on the passenger service team of JINAIR, a Korean LCC airline (a sister airline of Korean Air) and I was assigned to the Weight and Balance department.  

This was a turning point in my life. 

JIN Air was operating B737-800 and B777-200 and was operating belly cargos. I created the flight documents (load sheets and load plans) for all domestic flights of JINAIR. I communicated with check-in counter staff, ramp staff, and cargo workers in Gimpo, and in the terminals at various cities in Korea like Jeju, Cheongju, Pusan. This laid the foundation for my career in aviation.

I was proud of my work and happy in my role but was also ready for new challenges.  

At that time, the COVID pandemic was starting to impact operations. My weight and balance job transferred to the airline, and the department I was in, disbanded. While I was lucky to transfer internally to another department, I decided to take the opportunity to find a new role that would allow me to further grow my skillset. 

In January 2021, I joined Sharp Aviation K, the Ground Handling Agency for Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo at the Cargo Terminal in Incheon International Airport (ICN). 

That’s where my relationship with Atlas Air began. I worked as a Loadmaster and Ground Staff for Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo. This was my first time handling international/cargo freighter and I realized once again that what I had learned at Gimpo Airport was really just a small part of the load planning process. 

Thanks to my team on the ground, I was able to learn about the tasks of the job, the features of cargo freighters: B747, B777, B767; the enhanced dangerous goods handling procedures; the loading and unloading of cargo and the overall requirement of aircraft operations. 

Sometimes the job was challenging, and it was hard work, but I enjoyed working as a Loadmaster and supervising flights on the field. After that role, I moved to Atlas.  

Tell us about your current role at Atlas. 

As part of the Atlas Ground Ops team, we take care of everything to ensure all goes smoothly and safely once the aircraft arrives at our station and until it departs. We work with our vendors to adhere with Atlas Ground Ops procedures; we supervise the loading and offloading of cargo, and we monitor ramp operations when the aircraft is on the ground. ICN is one of the key stations in Asia, playing a critical role in Atlas Air’s global transport network. Our team works together to guarantee that everything runs smoothly, staying in close contact with HDQ and stations across the network.  

What is your favorite part of your job?  

My favorite part of the job is being able to work so close to the aircraft. I get to work both in the office and on the ramp, meeting and communicating with people from different departments. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see the aircraft is ready for departure. A lot of aircraft are in and out of our station. Some days are very routine, but you always have to be ready for anything; I can’t get enough of it. 

Atlas Air office

Mechanical Engineer Student, Jordan Reed, visits Atlas.

Earlier this year, Atlas’ Tech Ops team hosted Jordan Reed, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Louisville Speed School, who is set to graduate in May and is exploring opportunities in the aviation industry.

Shelby Robinson Hodgson, Principal Structures Engineer and Bradley Hubbard, Senior Structures Engineer, planned an exciting two-day visit to show Jordan a day in the life of a structures engineer at Atlas.

“Opportunities like this make Atlas Air a strong contender for top talent,” said Leisa Spears Snyder, Director, Workforce Development, Human Resources. “What we do at Atlas Air is extraordinary and we all know it takes extraordinary talent to get the job done. Job shadow experiences for students like Jordan, in highly competitive programs, provide an inside look at what we do. That exposure creates interest and an exciting introduction to our employer brand.”

“The job shadowing experience at Atlas Air was an incredible introduction to aerospace engineering,” said Jordan. “It was refreshing to see the enthusiasm for the company as well as the variety of ways my skills as a mechanical engineer could translate into an unfamiliar industry.  I’m looking forward to exploring other opportunities with the Atlas team.”

Below, we hear directly from Shelby about Jordan’s visit!

Day One: 

Atlas Air aircraft cockpit

Jordan got to sit in the cockpit of a 767 during his visit.

Brad went over what it takes to repair a damaged aircraft structure, how Atlas tracks repairs and what it looks like to manage an aircraft in heavy maintenance. I taught Jordan about Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) regulations and reliability projects. I even showed him how we perform a root cause analysis to identify solutions for problems we experience.  

Day Two: 

Now, it was the time to put words into action. We started the morning by taking a tour of CVG4, where we house a variety of different parts and materials for the Atlas fleet. Thus, Jordan got exposure to the supply chain portion of the business, and I explained why that was important for engineering as well. 

Atlas Air 767

Jordan in the belly of a 767.

After lunch, we visited the FEAM hangar where one of the Atlas 767s was going through an A check*. Brad went over what a typical A check looks like and the maintenance representative on-site walked Jordan around and showed him the aircraft structure, while explaining the purpose and design. I even got to show him one of the projects I implemented and explained the reasoning behind it. 

As we were ending our tour of the aircraft, we were told that engine runs were about to happen (where aircraft engines are brought to full power to test them), and we were so excited to have this opportunity to show him this! This is not something you see every day and we were glad the timing worked out so perfectly.

We were delighted to have the opportunity to host Jordan here at Atlas Air and are always excited to show students the many ways they can have a career in aviation. It is essential in developing the next generation of aviation leaders.

Needless to say, Jordan learned a good bit about airplanes and aircraft engineering in just two short days. I think it was a huge success and I hope Jordan feels the same way!

*An A Check takes place about every 1,000 flying hours and includes changing filters, lubricating hydraulics and undergoing a detailed inspection of emergency equipment.

An interview with Mai Sato, Operations Agent at Narita International Airport (NRT) 

Atlas Air Employee

Mai Sato

Here at Atlas, our people are the source of our strength and what drives our business forward. Their collective skills and experiences contribute to our competitive advantage and are what enabled the safe operation of 61,000 flights, serving 265 destinations in 60 countries in 2022.

Today, we introduce you to a member of our world-class team, Mai Sato, Operations Agent at Narita International Airport (NRT). According to her manager, Shige Fukuda, Regional Manager of Asia, Ground Ops, Mai was the first to volunteer to be a Flying Loadmaster during the COVID pandemic. The assignment was very demanding, yet Mai persevered. This is just one example of how Mai impresses her team!

Mai, how did you find aviation and decide to pursue it as a career? 

Mai during her time as a passenger service representative at a prior job.

When I was a student studying abroad in the U.S., I went on a Boeing Factory Tour in Seattle. It was the first time I saw an aircraft up-close, and I found it to be impressive and spectacular. From that moment, it became my dream to work in the aviation industry.

My first job was as a Load Planner at Kansai International Airport (KIX). My days were busy and my job was very rewarding. After five years, I put my aviation career on hold to concentrate on raising my children, but I knew I would return to the aviation industry someday. When we moved to Narita Chiba for my husband’s job, I decided it was time to go back to aviation.

I found a job as a Load Planner Narita International Airport. I really enjoyed the role as well as my coworkers, but I was ready to take on more challenges and gain new experiences. I found that opportunity with Atlas and have now been with the Company for five years.

Describe your current role at Atlas. 

I coordinate ground operations at Narita International Airport. I oversee security on the ground and supervise ramp agents to ensure safety during cargo handling operations. I also produce load plans and aircraft weight and balance forms.

Last year, I transitioned from ground to air crew duties and served as a Flying Loadmaster, supporting flights to China. I was responsible for the safe conduct of the flight from takeoff to landing and accomplished it with the support of local agents. It was challenging work and provided me with a lot of experience.

While the coronavirus pandemic caused many challenges and difficulties, I was happy that I could help out in a positive way.

Mai when she worked as a Miko-san during her school days.

What is your favorite part of your job?  

I find working around airplanes exhilarating and I get a great sense of accomplishment each time I see a flight that I worked pushback. I also love watching airplanes fly across the sky while I work.

What is one thing your coworkers may be surprised to learn about you? 

During my time in school, I worked as a Miko-san. Miko-san is a job title for women who serve at shrines and help Shinto priests in their ministry. As a Miko-san I also performed a Kagura dance during special ceremonies for children and rang a ceremonial bell. It was a very special honor to be chosen to perform this duty.


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.  

Steven Turner waving (at top) from 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.     

Dave Taylor on top of a bridge overlooking the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

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!”  

Jose with his daughter Monroe.

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.” 

As Atlas prepares to receive delivery of Boeing’s final 747s, we look back at the aircraft that has been such an important part of our Company’s history and success as well as an iconic aircraft to so many members of our team. Here is what some of our 747 pilots had to say about the 747’s significance in their careers and their lives.

Captain Brian King.

Captain and Air Crew Program Designee Brian King has been flying the 747 for all of the 25 years he has been with Atlas. In fact, he shares a special connection with the aircraft.

“I was born on September 30, 1968, the day that the very first 747 was rolled out of the hangar and revealed to the world,” said Brian. “I have been flying it for almost half of my life, and it’s an amazing aircraft. The

plane is the size of a building! It’s almost overwhelming the first time you encounter it. It’s designed so well and is such a wonderful airplane to fly; it’s a technological marvel.”

Transporting troops home from overseas in the 747 is a favorite memory for Brian.

“When I get to bring them back to their families, it’s always special,” he said “After the flight, I like to make my way to the jet bridge and into the terminal to see the reunions.

“At Atlas, we take the 747 to more places than anyone in the world; it’s amazing. And it’s an honor to be part of that.”

(L-R) Captain and Check Pilot Edul Banaji, Captain Joe Masone, Captain Gina Buhl and First Officer William Spencer Barker pose in front of one of the new 747s on the Boeing ramp in Seattle. The pilots were flying the aircraft together to Incheon International Airport (INC) in Korea.

Captain and Check Pilot Edulji (Edul) Banaji dreamed of flying the 747 when he was a child.

“My mother was an accountant, and her office was near the airport,” said Edul. “She used to take me to the viewing gallery, and we’d stand there to watch planes for hours.  I thought the 747 was just amazing.”

Edul’s childhood dream is now his reality. He said his favorite thing about flying the 747 is not the cargo it holds, but the places he has had the opportunity to fly to in his 11 years with Atlas. His favorite memory is flying from Santiago, Chile to Tahiti for a DHL charter flight for Cirque du Soleil.

“I had never flown to that part of the world before,” said Edul. “It’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s an empty expanse of sky.”

Another amazing flight took him from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan.

“We flew over the Himalayas in the morning, and it was a clear sky with no clouds,” he said “We were so high, but it felt like you could reach out and touch the mountains from where I sat in the cockpit.”

First Officer Pencil.

First Officer Diane Pencil boarded a 747 for the first time at age 11. She was traveling as an unaccompanied minor for her transatlantic move from Birmingham, England to Brooklyn, New York to join her father and grandmother, who were already living in the United States.

“It was the first time I ever traveled by air, and the entire flight was magical to me,” Diane recalled. “The flight attendants and the crew treated me wonderfully; I even got to meet the Captain and First Officer and tour the flight deck. The first thing I told my father when he met me at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) was that I was going to be a 747 pilot.”

Committed to her dream, Diane took a position as a gate agent at JFK to earn money while pursuing flying lessons. During that time, she often would visit the jet bridge to watch the 747s on the runway.

“I always worked toward my dream to fly the 747,” she said. “When I had the opportunity to come fly for Atlas, I told them it had to be on the 747.”

Her life has truly come full circle as she is now a 747 First Officer for Atlas based out of JFK, the airport where she landed after that first magical flight.

Captain Morris in front of the B747-8 engine.

Captain Julie Morris grew up in Seattle, where her father worked for Boeing on the 747 program as a Customer Engineer.

“When an airline purchased an aircraft, my father took care of all the details from the paint color to the seating arrangements, helping the customer with whatever they wanted,” said Julie. “He also designed an aircraft part on the 747SP, which is a rubber seal that goes between the upper and lower rudders at the hinge point to help with vibration during the flight.”

Captain Morris in front of Polar N450PA at the Boeing plant the day before it got fueled for the first time.

Julie often visited her father at Boeing and knew she wanted to fly from an early age. Her grandparents had a plane on their farm, and she loved being taken on flights by members of her family, including her dad who had a private pilot’s license.

“In 2000, my dream became a reality; I was hired to fly the 747 for Polar, and I couldn’t wait to tell my dad,” Julie said. “He was so proud. I hadn’t even told him that I applied, so it was a big surprise.”

Captain Morris with her father in the cockpit of a B747-400 while she was in college.

“At the time, my father had not yet retired from Boeing, and he took me out on the flight line so we could check out the 747-400 that was going to Polar before it was fueled up and ready to go. It was an experience I will never forget.”

Here at Atlas, we have a responsibility for the world in which we operate. 

Our commitment to safeguard the environment is reflected in how we manage our aircraft, our facilities and our resources by continuously striving to reduce our natural resource consumption and responsibly managing the lifecycle of the materials we use. 

LED lights installed at Atlas Station in George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Recently, Atlas’ Supply Chain team spearheaded a number of greening initiatives at the Company’s stations, stores and warehouses, where maintenance supplies and materials are stored, in support of our priority of environmental stewardship.  

“As the company further advanced its ESG commitments, this project became front and center for our team,” said Althea Arvin, Senior Director of Supply Chain Operations. “We realized we had an opportunity in our stores and warehouses to reduce waste, repurpose materials, and rethink what resources we use and how we use them.”

Leading the project for Supply Chain Operations was Todd Read, Regional Manager of Material Operations, Americas. With the help of his colleagues, Todd identified and developed initial opportunities for sustainable process improvements. By the end of summer 2021, Todd developed a plan to target three critical areas to reduce waste, and reduce consumption of electricity and fossil fuels. 

“The heart of this project was strategizing how we can improve efficiencies, while making an effort to be greener,” said Todd. “We started looking at our processes in new ways and thinking about how we can handle materials differently, in regard to items being recycled or process improvements that are more environmentally-friendly.”

Mulch made from broken pallets at CVG.

Aligned with this strategy, Todd and his team began implementing several environmental initiatives such as partnering with organizations to transform old airplane galley carts into furniture and art as well as breaking down old wood pallets at our CVG location in Northern, KY, into mulch for landscaping. Additional efforts include installing LED lights in warehouses and replacing gas powered vehicles and forklifts with electric ones. 

“The work is ongoing, and isn’t new. We have always been looking for opportunities to reduce waste and to be more mindful of our environmental impact at all of our locations,” said Todd.

For Althea and Todd, the hope is that these efforts will lead to more sustainable projects in the future, not only for Atlas but for the industry overall.

An electric forklift replacement model that has started to roll out in Atlas facilities.

“As a supply chain organization, we want to ensure that we’re delivering on our commitments to sustainability and are sending a clear message to the rest of the Company and beyond,” said Althea. “We’re very proud of the work that Todd and his team are doing to advance Atlas’ ESG strategy. Understanding where and how our business interacts with the environment has an intangible value. Our expectation is that as we do our part, the spirit of conservation will become contagious beyond our supply chain and station operations.”

For more information about Atlas’ commitment to ESG priorities, view Atlas’ most recent ESG Report here.

Spotlight on Tom Vize, 747 Fleet Captain

Atlas 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner Tom Vize.

The 747 holds a special place in Atlas 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner Tom Vize’s heart.

“As a child, I dreamed of flying the 747 one day,” said Tom. “For me, the 747 is the most iconic airplane and the most spectacular aircraft ever built.”

Tom knows he is not the only one who feels this way. Over the years he has spoken to many pilots who shared the same childhood dream.

Tom has been with Atlas for over 22 years and has flown the 747 his entire career. He has piloted 747s carrying sport teams, specialty cars, boats and holidays gifts.

Tom has traveled all over the world to more than 100 destinations – including South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and many destinations in between. He says his favorite destination is “wherever Atlas takes me next.”

Atlas 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner Tom Vize in the cockpit.T

“Flying at Atlas is so unique,” said Tom. “It’s challenging and exciting from the cargo we carry to the places we go. There is no other airline that offers this kind of variety.”

Tom has many fond memories of flying the 747 over the years, but there are two that are particularly memorable.

First there was the time that Tom was part of the crew bringing two Navy SEALs, along with all of their equipment from Japan to Guam in 2006.

“We invited the U.S. Navy SEALs to join us in the cockpit, and they thought it was just the coolest thing,” said Tom. “We were so proud to play a role in getting them safely to their next mission.”

Captain Vize’ son, Brandon Eastland, during his time as a United States Army Cavalry Scout.

The other memory is a bit more personal. In 2010, Tom’s son, Brandon, a United States Army Cavalry Scout stationed in Germany, was deploying with his troop to Afghanistan. Tom was scheduled to pilot a flight into RAM, just as his son was about to depart on that Atlas 747 piloted by a colleague.

“I was so grateful that I was able to see Brandon before he left and tell him face-to-face how proud I was of him,” said Tom.

The two were able to spend a few minutes together before the flight. While onboard, each member of the Atlas flight crew took the time to introduce themselves to Brandon and get to know him. It is a special memory for both father and son.

As Atlas takes delivery of the final four 747-8 freighters Boeing will produce, Tom is both proud and sentimental.

Captain Vize (left) with Captain Joe Masone touring the Boeing factory to see the final 747s.

“To see the last 747-8 freighters being built is a bit poignant,” said Tom. “The aircraft has had a long and impressive career. It is a super reliable airplane and can take passengers and cargo anywhere in the world. To be a part of the celebration of the final aircraft is a great honor.”

Tom recently flew the first and second acceptance flights for N860GT and N861GT with his friend and colleague Captain Joe Masone. Tom piloted the plane while Joe rode on the aircraft overseeing the functional checks and system tests.

Captain Joe Masone (left) and Captain Tom Vize touring the Boeing factory to see the final 747s.

“Joe and I met 25 years ago,” said Tom. “Joe was a Captain and Check Airman, and he conducted my 747 training. Joe left that airline to move to Polar and it was through him that I found my way to Atlas Air. It was a real full-circle moment for me to fly with him on these flights.”