Five PSA team members recently partnered with volunteers from American Airlines to provide a life-changing experience for a group of special needs children.
Through Wings for Autism and It’s Cool to Fly AA program held at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI), dozens of families with special needs children were introduced to the steps involved in the day-of-departure travel experience. They went through security procedures, how to board an aircraft, how to find their seat and experience taxiing on the runway.
Many families hesitate to travel by air because of a child’s special needs and how others may perceive the child’s behavior, said Sumanth Reddimalla, Assistant Director of Corporate Security and Emergency Response for PSA, who has been part of four Wings for Autism events.
The experience opens doors many families perceived as closed. “Allowing these individuals to practice opens up an entire world to them. Travel now becomes an opportunity and option. Often the struggle for these individuals is the unknown and with a program like this, that factor is removed and their anxiety levels are greatly reduced and manageable,” said Melanie Lopez, Flight Attendant for PSA.
The event provides crew members and the station employees tools they can apply on future flights to better assist customers with special needs.
Lopez, who has a background in special education, was participating in her fourth event, “Often, passengers with autism are non-verbal because they can’t handle the noise around them and wear sound blockers and I’m able to communicate with sign language. If our crew members take a few minutes to learn a few signs to communicate such as, “Hi, how are you?” and “What is your name?” we are able to make an entire community more comfortable onboard and show we care.”
Flight Attendant Britt Roach said, “This gives parents and children a chance they may never get in real life and that’s a practice run at traveling with a child with special needs.”
Roach said this event is special to him because it brought back memories of working with autistic and special needs children and adults at a healthcare facility. He said it is an honor to be able to participate and looks forward to future events. “A special ‘Thank You’ to PSA and American Airlines for the opportunity to let me help make someone else’s life a little bit easier.”
There is a rewarding feeling from participating, the volunteers said. “The overall experience for the crew was one of excitement to be helping individuals with autism experience this life-changing event. We all feel really honored and privileged to have participated and be a part of their journey. This event is one I hold near and dear to my heart.” Lopez said.
The event was successful through the collaboration between the ARC, PSA’s Dispatch Department, Security and crew volunteers, along with the PTI (Piedmont Triad International Airport in North Carolina) and American Airlines’ volunteer program.
Title: Currently, a line captain and part-time ground school instructor.
How long have you worked for PSA? I’ve been with PSA about three years.
How long have you been in the airline industry? I started in the airline industry in 1979 as a flight attendant with AA. I flew at Comair for 15 years and was a captain for 11 years. Following Delta’s shutdown of Comair, I went to TransStates Airlines (where Keith Stamper was at the time.) for almost two years.
How did you transition from being a flight attendant? How long were you a flight attendant? I enlisted in the National Guard so I could go through pilot training. That didn’t work the way I wanted it to, but, I was able to use the additional income from the National Guard and GI Bill benefits to pay for civilian flight training. I was a flight attendant for 17 years. That schedule enabled me to pursue flying and have a reserve military career.
What brought you to PSA? PSA started growing and through a former Comair pilot, I was hired here. I turned down a Captain upgrade at TransStates to start at PSA and not commute for the remainder of my career.
Give us a brief overview of what you do: I fly a normal schedule like most other pilots, but am periodically pulled off trips to teach captain upgrade classes or do end-of-course evaluations for new-hire pilots. I was in the training department as a ground instructor due to being diagnosed with a heart condition I don’t have. It took about 18 months to return to flying after convincing the FAA I was healthy.
Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? The Panama Canal. The history behind the canal and the changes recently completed to allow more shipping through the canal. In 2011, did you know only 30-35% of commercial freighters could sail through the Panama Canal? Did you know the United States was not the first country to attempt building the Panama Canal?
What are some of your hobbies? Reading, grilling, physical fitness
What do you love about working for PSA? It’s close to home, so I don’t have to commute. I live in Monroe, which is halfway between DAY and CVG. I’m originally from Williamsburg, VA.
Would you recommend PSA and why? It’s a growing airline with a young fleet of very good airplanes.
You mentioned the fleet of good airplanes. What do you like about flying the CRJ 200, 700 and 900s? All the CRJs are pretty sturdy. I like the systems design and the improvements made in the 700 and 900s. I’ve flown the EMB-120 turboprop and the EMB-145. The CRJ electrical system, in particular, is more reliable.
What piece of advice do you pass along to younger pilots the most? Enjoy the flying while you can. It doesn’t matter which airline you’re at, your time may end sooner than you think. Because of the medical situation with the FAA and the misdiagnosis, my time as a pilot almost ended prematurely.
What changes have you seen in the airline industry that have surprised you the most in your career? The amount of consolidation and the names of the carriers which no longer operate…Eastern, Western, Pan Am, TWA, Continental, People Express, Comair, Braniff, Command, Air Virginia and more. Some were upstarts which tried to take on the majors and failed. Some were forced out of business and others were consolidated into the surviving airlines today. The air traffic controllers strike in the early 1980s was ill-advised and had a disastrous effect on the airline industry. Because of that incident, I’m not thrilled with current efforts to privatize ATC services.
Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I like having a positive influence on younger crew members.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? The travel and the people I formed close friendships with over the years.
Tell us something no one knows about you: Many don’t realize I started my airline career with American Airlines as a flight attendant.
Name: Joe Lindsey
Title: Maintenance Training Manager
How long have you worked for PSA? It will be 15 years in early October.
How long have you been in the airline industry? Where did you work before PSA? I have worked in aviation since 1994 and been in the airline business since 1998. Before PSA, I spent time working as an aircraft mechanic at Mesa (US Airways Express and America West Express CRJs and ERJs), Emery Worldwide Airlines (Cargo DC-8s and DC-10s), Comair (Delta Connection CRJs), and a few general/corporate aviation companies performing maintenance and painting operations on everything from Cessna 150s to corporate jets.
What brought you to PSA? The Dayton, OH area is home for me. I grew up here. I have literally worked all the way around the Dayton airport at all four aviation centers.
Give us a brief overview of your job responsibilities: I oversee a team responsible for developing, delivering, tracking, and revising initial, recurrent, and ad hoc training for all Maintenance & Engineering staff, Stores staff, and external Maintenance and Fuel Vendors. Training topics range from basic safety to hazardous materials shipping, to the inner workings of the CRJ autopilot system. Training is delivered via formal instructor-led training, computer/web based training, and hands-on on-the-job training.
What is one of the biggest challenges of your job? PSA’s rapid growth and implementing use of the American Airlines Learning Management System known as The Learning Hub. Trying to keep 550+ internal students and over 3,000 vendor personnel trained is no small task, especially considering attrition. The communication and coordination with other departments and vendors that is so vital, it can be overwhelming at times. Thankfully, I am blessed with an amazing team of talented and dedicated staff who make it look easy.
How has the Maintenance Training at PSA evolved over the past couple of years? The department consisted of three instructors and a part-time administrative assistant not too long ago. Currently, we are on our way to a team of 18 staff, including myself, by this time next year. As I type this, we are adding interactive touch screen training in the classroom and expanding our hands-on training capabilities.
Where is your favorite place in which you have traveled? Charlotte Amalie on the Island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you go, stay up the hill at the Galleon house bed and breakfast (amazing views) and take the ferry over to the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John’s Island for snorkeling in Trunk Bay.
What are some of your hobbies? I am a husband and father all the way. What time is left I enjoy spending on my motorcycle, running an all-volunteer team of audio technicians where I attend church, anything outdoors, and helping others – Joe’s garage is always open for repairs. Anything from inflating bicycle tires and soccer balls to teaching the neighbor kids how to work on their cars.
What do you love about working for PSA? I like the planes, but I love the people! Happy, sad, mad, excited, I love them all. This business is a team sport and I love the dedication displayed on a daily basis here at PSA. It is tough at times, but we care for each other like family and get it done.
Would you recommend PSA and why? Yes, but I don’t sugar coat it. I caution folks that you will work hard at PSA, but it is worth it. If you enjoy the satisfaction of a little kid’s smile and delight who is boarding their first flight knowing you helped ensure they will arrive safe and on time or the relief on a passenger’s face who is desperate to get home to family in a time of crisis and arrives on time safe and sound, this is the place for you.
Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: Every once in a while, I still get to play in the Aircraft Wiring Manual helping troubleshoot an aircraft system fault which I love (I’m a nerd) because it is challenging and takes focus. The complexity of the aircraft is a draw for me.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? Learning new things and watching others grow in their roles here at PSA. It has been tough and downright exhausting at times, but the satisfaction of a project completed at the end of the day or watching one of our jets take off silhouetted by an early morning sunrise as I drive in still makes me proud of the hard-working people here at PSA.
Tell us something no one knows about you: I learned how to barrel role and aileron roll an aircraft before I learned how to land one.
PSA Airlines (PSA), a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, along with Sinclair Community College and Aviation Sales, Inc. (ASI) will sign a partnership agreement on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the PSA Hangar, 3751 Cargo Road, Vandalia, that will provide an unprecedented opportunity for aspiring pilots in the Miami Valley region to further their flight training on a pathway to become a PSA pilot.
The Pilot Cadet Program is a mutually-beneficial pilot recruitment, retention and employment program for colleges such as Sinclair and area aviation industry partners.
“Sinclair’s aviation program provides a strong foundation for students entering this profession, but meeting the requirements to become an airline pilot is extremely challenging,” said Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair College. “This partnership establishes a strong connection with PSA, an important regional carrier dedicated to recruiting and retaining a local workforce. We are proud to help this great local company in building their future workforce.”
With the Pilot Cadet Program, graduates of Sinclair’s Aviation Program will be eligible to be hired as Certified Flight Instructors (CFI) through ASI to teach at Sinclair and obtain the 1,500 total flight hours required by the FAA to become a commercial pilot. While a cadet in the program, PSA will provide the CFI tuition reimbursement of $500 at designated intervals of completed flight hours up to $5,000. Upon completion of flight hours, PSA will offer cadets conditional employment as a First Officer.
“We are excited to be able to strengthen this relationship with Sinclair and ASI to grow a local workforce for an industry that needs more qualified professional pilots,” said Dion Flannery, President – PSA Airlines. “This program offers a solid pathway to a stable and growing career that starts with PSA and ends with a predictable path to the largest airline in the world.”
About PSA Airlines
PSA Airlines operates an all-jet fleet consisting of exclusively Bombardier regional jet aircraft. The company’s 3,000 employees operate nearly 700 daily flights to nearly 90 destinations. Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, PSA also has flight crew bases located in Dayton, Cincinnati, Ohio, Knoxville, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, North Carolina. PSA has maintenance facilities in Dayton and Canton, Ohio and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina. PSA operates 35 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft, 31 Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft and 54 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. The airline expects to add additional aircraft bringing its fleet count to 150.
About Sinclair Community College
Celebrating 130 years, Sinclair is recognized as a local and national leader in delivering high-quality and affordable higher education. Sinclair offers approximately 230 accredited degrees and certificates and offers Montgomery County students the lowest tuition rates in all of Ohio.
About Aviation Sales, Inc.
Aviation Sales Inc. is a full service Fixed Base Operator located in Dayton, Ohio at the Dayton International Airport & Dayton Wright Brothers Airport. Founded in 1958, Aviation Sales has been serving the Dayton Ohio aviation community for over 58 years!
We’re proud to announce we have been named for the second consecutive year as a “Best Workplace in Ohio” for 2017 by Ohio Business Magazine. Being recognized as one of the top places to work is an honor and a testament to our outstanding team members and the culture we’ve built here at PSA.
Since 2014, PSA has doubled its size and will grow to operate 150 Bombardier CRJ aircraft over the next several years. This enormous amount of growth is a reflection of the largest airline in the world’s continued confidence in PSA to provide friendly, reliable and cost-effective regional services. Our more than 3,000 employees work diligently to operate 700 daily flights to nearly 90 destinations, all for American. We have a defined and committed fleet and growth plan, playing a critical role in American’s long-term regional network. As the fastest-growing regional airline in the country, our team members pride themselves on professional excellence in every aspect of their jobs.
Our culture is The PSA Way – which is focused on goals, safety, respect, preparedness, professional excellence and passion. This is our foundation and reflects how we think, act and communicates with one another and our customers. It represents the core values that our 3,000 employees stand for and is part of everything we do. We are focused on ramping up across all divisions with needs for 900 additional employees. There has never been a more exciting time to join the PSA family.