The Faces of PSA – Meet Jim Harkema

Faces of PSA JimName: Jim Harkema

Title: Director, Operations Control Center

How long have you been in the airline industry?  I began in the industry in 1983 working on the ramp for Wright Airlines in Cleveland, OH, have worked at Braniff Airlines in Dallas, and will be starting my twenty seventh year at PSA and the USAirways family this coming January.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I’m responsible for the airlines daily operation from the Operations Control Center in Dayton, and the Technical Publications Department.

How many roles have you had at PSA? Which is your favorite? I have been a crew scheduler, dispatcher, the manager of dispatch, and the first Director of Safety for PSA when the FAA created the position in 1996. I don’t have a favorite as I continue to use all of those experiences in my current position.

You are known for putting up a Christmas tree for PSA employees (at whichever building you work in). How long have you done that and how did the tradition start? This year’s tree is the 18th PSA tree in a row that my wife Doreen and I have decorated. The first tree was the way we got to know each other, and even the three years that Doreen and I worked elsewhere within the USAirways and Express family, we still decorated the tree at PSA. We use our own decorations, many of which we make, to create a “decorator type” tree, using coordinating colors as varied as pink and zebra stripe to the retro Pacific Southwest Airlines logos and colors on last year’s tree.

Your wife used to work for PSA. Is this where you met?  Yes, Doreen’s first job in the industry was in the PSA Human Resource Department where, ironically enough, one of her assignments was decorating the Christmas tree.

Tell us something no one knows about you:  I’m married to an on air radio personality for Mix 107.7 in Dayton, and together we played and sang in a band.

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled?  Oshkosh, WI for the Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-in.  My father and I restored a 1969 Citabria (single engine tandem seat private aircraft) which we bought as a basket case project. During the project we vowed that we would fly the airplane to Oshkosh and camp out under the wing upon its completion. We accomplished that goal in 2010 and that trip with my Dad remains one of my favorite experiences.

Why would you recommend PSA? I absolutely would recommend PSA to anyone who wants to gain valuable airline experience or build a rewarding career.  PSA offers employees an incomparable opportunity to hone their skills and pursue personal growth, to whatever level in the company they can dream and work to achieve.  Like me you may even find a personal relationship that completes your life!

The Faces of PSA – Meet Kyle Lawrenz

Kyle LawrenzName: Kyle Lawrenz

Title: Maintenance Manager-CVG (Cincinnati/Northern-Kentucky)

How long have you worked for PSA? On Feb 2017, I will celebrate my 10-year anniversary with PSA.

How long have you been in the airline industry? I received my Airframe and Power plant license in 2002. I have been in Aviation going on 15 years.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I oversee the PSA maintenance operation and personnel at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.

What is one of the biggest challenges of your job? Starting up the first new maintenance base from scratch has been a challenge, but a very rewarding achievement.

How many roles have you had at PSA? Which is your favorite? I have held 5 positions during my 10 years at PSA (see below). I have enjoyed each and every one of my roles, as I have gained experience and learned a different side of the operation in each position and how it all comes together from a maintenance aspect.

Roles: A&P Technician, Technical Support Specialist, Maintenance Training and Reliability Manager, Reliability and Technical Service Manager, and Maintenance Manager-CVG

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? San Diego

What are some of your hobbies? Wake boarding, water sports, motorcycles, softball and watching my daughters sporting events.

What do you love about working for PSA? Every day brings a new challenge and the people I get to meet/work with.

Why would you recommend PSA? The experiences you can obtain and projects you can get involved in are endless. For motivated individuals that are looking to climb the ladder, this is priceless.

What did you do before coming to PSA? Remote Diagnostic Engineer for GE Engines. In this role, I would troubleshoot engines flying around and look for trends in real time to determine engine health or problems.

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I am learning more about building maintenance and Fire Suppression Systems, then I ever thought I would experience.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? I actually have two answers for this question: 1. Starting a base from scratch and watching it grow to a fully functional maintenance base. 2. Taking a new A&P mechanic out of school and watching him or her turn into an experienced and knowledgeable mechanic.

Tell us something no one knows about you: I taught my English Bulldog how to ride a skateboard.




The Faces of PSA – Meet Randall Parnell

Randal ParnellTitle: First Officer

How long have you worked for PSA? I was a First Officer at Comair for 6 years from 2003-2009. I left there to do other things, but after a year or so, I really missed aviation; however, with no recent experience, I figured I’d never fly Part 121 again. I had lost touch with what the industry was doing, so it came as a big surprise to me to learn late last year that there was a pilot shortage. Since Charlotte is my hometown, PSA was the natural choice. I have since learned that there are many more great aspects to PSA and I am ecstatic to be back in the airline world with PSA!

How long have you been in the airline industry? 6 years

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I help to get customers safely and smoothly to their destinations.

What’s the most challenging part of your job? Since I was already familiar with airline life, the adjustment has been very easy, but I would say that the most difficult part is probably adjusting to reporting early after being on late reports in the same trip. Fortunately, that’s only happened once so far!

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? It’s not far from home, but Charleston, SC is one of my favorites!

Where is your favorite destination to fly to? Although I haven’t been there yet with PSA, I would say Austin, TX, as I used to live there. What a great city!

What are some of your hobbies? Celtic guitar and running. I have played Celtic and Old Time guitar for over 20 years now. Being a native of the Appalachians, I guess it’s in my DNA. Being based in Knoxville at the moment, I found a great venue uptown with open sessions. PSA has afforded me the opportunity to get to know a great new town. I love Knoxville!

What do you love about working for PSA? The can-do, team-oriented spirit!

Why would you recommend PSA? Industry-leading pay, excellent equipment, stability of an American wholly owned airline, but most of all the great people who make up PSA.

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I was once a certified farrier and equine outfitter in New Mexico and speak 5 languages. Besides English, the languages I speak are fluent German, basic Russian and Spanish and a smattering of Hebrew and Chinese. Being able to say even a few words or simple phrase has often brought a smile of surprise to a customer’s face hearing their native language.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? Working with a great team and being back in aviation after a bit of a hiatus.

Tell us something no one knows about you: Prior to coming to PSA, I was an entertainer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and had the opportunity to work in over 28 different countries around the world.

PSA Airlines Partners with Wings for Autism® – ‘Most Rewarding Thing I’ve Ever Done’

imagePSA Flight Attendant and Training Specialist Melanie Lopez participated in an event Nov. 12 that has left a lasting impression and created a path for a special group of families to better experience the joy of flying.

Lopez was part of a four-person crew that volunteered at the “It’s Cool to FLY American Airlines Wings for Autism” event at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR). The program, hosted by Arc of South Carolina and featuring volunteers from MYR, American Airlines and TSA, provides families of children with Autism to experience a “flight” from start to finish.

“I have worked with special needs individuals for the past 11 years and they have the same ambitions in life as everyone else. They want to travel and see the world and have these new and exciting experiences that we have,” said Lopez. “What motivates me to work with this event is to be able to help them take that first step to achieving those goals and fulfilling those ambitions. It is so rewarding to see them build confidence in themselves and walk away from the event knowing that they can do this and there is an entire support system behind them cheering them on.”

Joining Lopez on the flight were Captain Jeremy West, Captain Kevin Ambrose and Flight Attendant Britt Roach. This is the second Wings for Autism event PSA employees have been part of this year. Assistant Director Airport Operations, Corporate Security and Emergency Response Sumanth Reddimalla attended on PSA’s behalf as well.

According to Lopez, the best part of the event is always the end, where the children and families have confidence knowing that they can take a flight and have support.

It is such a heart-warming and rewarding event to be a part of, Lopez said. “As the event was ending and all the passengers were deplaning, a mother stopped and looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘This is the greatest thing we’ve ever done.’ “

“I am beyond grateful to have this experience and be a part of this event. It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

About The Arc – The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of more than 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Faces of PSA – Meet Dave Mitchell

veterans faces of PSAName: David (Dave) Mitchell

Title: First Officer

How long have you worked for PSA? 1 year

How long have you been in the airline industry? I had a 31-year career in the Navy.

What did you do in the Navy? I served in the Navy for 31 years, about 15 of those were on active duty and the rest on reserve duty. I entered through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL, and trained to be a Naval Flight Officer. I did not have the required uncorrected vision to be a Naval Aviator, but as a Naval Flight Officer, I flew 3,000 hours primarily in P-3 Orion’s performing long-range navigation and tactical operations throughout the world. Later in my career, I held a number of leadership/command positions serving in joint and multinational positions. I deployed overseas multiple times anywhere from a few weeks to a year. When I was not serving with the Navy, I managed accounting, audit and finance functions for the Department of Defense as a civilian employee.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I am a new-hire First Officer finished with training and qualification in July.

What do you love about flying? Flying has always been a part of my life from a young age. I love flying and being a pilot. It has never gotten old for me, even after over 40 years. I earned my advanced and instructor ratings over the years and have instructed primarily as a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol working with young people and adults. After retiring from the Navy, I continued to work as a civilian until retiring from that. I decided to fly professionally first flying passengers throughout the mid-south in Cessna Caravans. After listening to my younger first officers talk about starting their careers with regional airlines, I decided to see if that was a possibility for me. Since my primary goal was to fly, I wanted to join a team where I could reasonably expect to do that in the time I had left before turning 65 and the possibility of upgrading to Captain was also on my mind. After reviewing the different opportunities, I felt PSA would offer me those opportunities. While it means commuting, I felt that would be worth the benefits. After joining PSA, I immediately realized there was much more in terms of a family atmosphere and camaraderie of the team members. At my age, I value those things.

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? In my Navy career, I have traveled all over, to some great spots like Japan, Germany, Italy and some not so great like Afghanistan, but I enjoyed aspects of them all. It is really hard to name a favorite but my wife, daughter and I have always enjoyed anywhere with a beach.

Where is your favorite destination to fly to? This question is hard because I am not sure I have made that trip yet. One of the things I want to do is take my wife and daughter to some of the beautiful places I have been to during my Navy service. The coast of Croatia is one such place. There is an airport in Split and nearby the village of Trogir. I am hoping to use our great travel benefits with American to go there again. I have fond memories of visiting there when I was peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo.

What are some of your hobbies? Flying my Piper Cub, volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol, soaring, swimming and outdoor activities.

What do you love about working for PSA?  The great family atmosphere and opportunity to work with fellow professionals.

Why would you recommend PSA? The opportunity to fly immediately after training and not sit on reserve for months/years.

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: First Officers must be Airline Transport Pilots with a Pilot in Command Type rating which was not the case a couple years ago.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? Learning to operate the great CRJs of PSA as part of a team of professionals that all work together to deliver safe, timely and efficient travel to our customers.

Tell us something no one knows about you: The summer I was 15, I worked at Columbus Southwest Airport, a crop-dusting strip in Ohio for $1.25 an hour, which I used for flight lessons.