Craig Armstrong: Celebrating 30 Years as Captain of the Ship

President Dion Flannery presents the 30-year service award to Captain Craig Armstrong.

President Dion Flannery presents the 30-year service award to Captain Craig Armstrong.

In his storied career, Captain Craig Armstrong has many memorable moments, but he put the celebration this week in honor of his 30 years of service at the top of the list. Armstrong sat down with us and reflected on his time with PSA. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: When and where did you learn to fly?
A: Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, OK.

Q: When did your aviation career begin?
A: I was an instructor, teaching private pilots in Bowling Green, KY and then flew charter for a couple of years in Owensboro, KY.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I’m from Lexington, KY.

Q: Did you always want to be a pilot? Any other occupation pursuits?
A: No. I worked in construction. I took an introductory pilot lesson and fell in love with it.

Q: Before you came to PSA, where did you fly?
A: I was hired by Britt Airways in 1983 and was a First Officer for one year. Then, I upgraded to Captain. I was there three years. Then in 1986, I was hired in as a Captain by JetStream International (which later became PSA).

Q: Where have you been based with PSA?
A: I’ve chosen to be based in Dayton for 30 years.

Q: You were set to be one of the first pilots to flow to American Airlines. Why did you choose to stay at PSA?
A: I found a home here. I felt like part of a family. The people. We went through hard times together and I wanted to stay with them for the good.

Q: What is your favorite jet to fly?
A: The Dornier 328 turboprop. It’s a “real pilot’s” airplane. It’s smooth and quiet.

Q: What’s the best part about working for PSA?
A: The relationships with the people. Each day, I have the opportunity to meet passengers, greet them and interact with them. The best job in the aviation industry is a senior line holder and flying the line.

Q: What’s your most memorable moment at PSA?
A: This one. When you have a chance to reflect on your career and take it all in. My other one is doing a cabin class proving run on the Brasilia with a plane full of FAA guys to get certified to fly the aircraft.

Q: What is your favorite destination to fly to?
A: Do I have to pick one? I have three. 1. Portland, Maine; 2. Sarasota, Florida and 3. Key West, Florida. I love seeing the ocean from the air.

Q: What is your favorite vacation spot?
A: Abaco, Bahamas.

Q: Tell us about your family.
A: I’m married and I have 5 children and 14 grandchildren. One son is an air traffic controller and another is a private pilot. All of them are involved, either as private pilots, students or on the ground, including grandkids. I take them up in my Cessna 150.

Q: Who do you credit for your success?
A: My wife. I wouldn’t be here without her.

What others have to say about Captain Armstrong:

“One of the finest aviators I’ve come across in my career. He’s always trying to make this airline better. He’s the captain of the ship, because that’s what he does.” – Michael Scrobola, Vice President Flight Operations

“He’s the model of a professional pilot.” – Randy Fusi, Vice President Safety

The Faces of PSA – Meet Gary Pratt

Gary Pratt with Kevin Reinhalter

Gary Pratt (left) shaking hands with former VP of Maintenance and Engineering Kevin Reinhalter.

Title: Vice President of Maintenance & Engineering

How long have you worked for PSA? 4 wonderful weeks.

How long have you been in the airline industry and what jobs have you done? I have worked in the industry since I graduated from Southern Illinois University. I spent the first 22 years with Delta. I did my best to work as many different positions as possible to learn all aspects of the maintenance business. Sheet metal mechanic in overhaul, line maintenance, maintenance control, regulatory programs, fleet analyst. My love has always been with line maintenance. New and different challenges every day. The second chapter of my career was with Air Wisconsin. I was hired in as the Director of Maintenance and escalated to VP of Maintenance & Engineering. Great company and great people at AWAC but PSA possesses high energy and significant growth opportunities.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I am ultimately responsible for providing every PSA employee and American Airlines customer a safe, airworthy, and comfortable aircraft. Our flight and Inflight crews deserve a clean and functional work environment and our passengers demand a great flying experience. My objective is to accomplish this by collaborating with my team to develop and implement strategies for continual improvement. Another responsibility of my role is to create long-term initiatives based on forecasting models that will result in financial stability and top performance. I take this responsibility seriously as the end result certainly benefits our employees, customers, and shareholders.

What do you think PSA is best known for? “The Little Engine that Could.” When you look back at PSA’s challenged history and see where we are today, there is nothing that can or will stop the committed employees of PSA.

Why did you choose PSA? To be a team member of a growing company with endless opportunities. Every employee should feel that their career is in their hands which is a great place to be at the start of the day. Should they choose to be committed and not simply a contributor, there is no limit to where their efforts will take them within our company.

Why would you recommend PSA? The energy and fast-paced environment that is within PSA is contagious and something many people seek. It fulfills the soul and sends you home at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment.

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? Probably Croatia. Absolutely beautiful country with a significant history, wonderful people, and fabulous food.

What are some of your hobbies? I spend most of my free time running or working around the house. I am a mechanic at heart so fixing and improving things is a passion. When I am not training for a race or fixing something, you can find me cruising the less traveled roads on my Harley (Davidson motorcycle).

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: Creating a work environment where all employees can feel a sense of ownership and success is just as critical as producing safe and reliable aircraft.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? So far, it has been meeting and interacting with many great people at PSA. I am extremely fortunate to have a staff that is both dedicated and extremely knowledgeable. I am very anxious to see what’s around the corner.

Tell us something no one else knows about you: When I was working towards my private pilots license during college, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling nauseous every time I flew so I quit that endeavor. Not to mention, my depth perception was so bad I never had a totally successful landing.

The Faces of PSA – Meet Matthew Coelyn

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First Officer Matthew Coelyn and his mom who is a Flight Attendant for American Airlines.

Title: First Officer

How long have you worked for PSA? I joined PSA in August 2014.

How long have you been in the airline industry? I have been flying since 2011. The airline industry has always been part of my life, both my parents use to fly for TWA. My mom is still an active flight attendant for American Airlines.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: At PSA, I get to do a lot of interesting and exciting things. In addition to assisting the Captain in the safe completion of a flight, I like to foster a fun and safe environment for the whole crew.

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? I have two favorite places that I have traveled. Domestically, I would have to say Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s a quaint Midwest town where the people are very nice. Internationally, hands down I would say Hong Kong. Hong Kong is just amazing. Words can’t even do it justice.

What are some of your hobbies? I enjoy personal training because I like helping others. I still enjoy flying, on the weekends. I work with a nonprofit that takes at-risk youth up in a Piper. It’s literally flying for flying’s sake and the positive impact it has is huge.

What do you love about working for PSA? There is a lot to love, from the beautiful skies to the amazing people I get to meet and interact with on a daily basis.

Why would you recommend PSA? I would recommend PSA for a multitude of reasons. The first is the people you get to fly with. The other pilots here are always willing to help and pass on their extensive knowledge. Equal cockpit gradient combined with a large pilot diversity results in an environment rich in experience and good times. The second reason I would recommend PSA is for career progression. With a quick upgrade when compared to other regional airlines and industry leading flow to American, the airline sells itself. The third reason is the flexible scheduling. Having the ability to manipulate my schedule is something completely unique only to PSA.

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I’m young for the position I’m in, so I take it upon myself to scan the gate area when I have the opportunity and look for youth that think aviation is exciting. Once I identify these people, I will (with the Captain’s permission) show them the flight deck and take a picture of them so they will have a souvenir of their journey.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? To me, the most rewarding part of my job is after I fly a leg and the passengers are disembarking. The fact these passengers trusted me to deliver them to their destination and I see them getting off the plane is really, really cool.

Tell us something no one knows about you: I have a 300-gallon salt water fish tank that I have been taking care of for ten years. I have a shark that was neglected and I nursed it back to health. She’s been with us for five years strong.

The Faces of PSA – Meet Carol Hampton

Carol HamptonTitle: Inflight Supervisor

How long have you worked for PSA? I have been with PSA for one year.

How long have you been in the airline industry? Everything I know about the airline industry is through my experience at PSA. I started as a flight attendant and was promoted after seven months to a supervisor.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I am a supervisor of inflight services. I oversee the daily flight operations and performance of the flight attendants.

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? Jamaica. I was born and raised there, but visited the USA often after high school and decided to migrate.

What are some of your hobbies? I love riding my bicycle and playing tennis. I love going to museums and art exhibits and I am an avid movie-goer.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a flight attendant but my mother convinced me to go to college. I came to the USA to go to college and dropped out to become a realtor and now, here I am, an inflight supervisor.

What brought you to PSA? Fate. I had no idea who PSA was or what a regional carrier was. I decided to pursue a career in aviation and heard about the open house and there I was interviewing for the job.

What do you love about working for PSA? PSA is a family. The environment is fast pace and consistently changing while being in balance with stability and consistency. A typical day in a family.

Why would you recommend PSA? I would recommend PSA because this company allows you to learn about all aspects of the airline industry. The company is growing at a quick pace so there are so many opportunities to experience different aspects of this business while pursuing a career.

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: What a great job I have! People don’t know how much the inflight supervisors impact the business.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? Working with the flight attendants one-on-one. The diversity of the inflight staff allows creative personal experience with each person.

Was it tough moving into a supervisory position after being in the aviation industry a short time? No, it wasn’t. The management piece was there due to my years of management experience. There was some corporate culture differences but I am an adaptable person, so I adapted very well. I do love my job as an inflight supervisor and plan to be here. The diversity of the employees makes it not only challenging, but interesting to be at work every day.

Tell us something no one knows about you: I started and worked for Trump Realty as a broker in charge. I was a Miss Jamaica USA contestant and was 1st runner-up.

The Faces of PSA – Meet Chris Sailer

Chris Sailer Presidents Award

PSA President Dion Flannery (left) and Vice President of Safety Randy Fusi (right) presenting Chris Sailer (center) with the Presidents Award.

Title: Manager Safety Department

How long have you worked for PSA? I have worked at PSA Airlines for just over 3 years. I started at the company prior to all of the growth as a Safety Intern. I worked as an Intern for several months before becoming the Safety Analyst and then the Safety Manager.

How long have you been in the airline industry? I have been in the Airline Industry with PSA Airlines since 2013.

Give us a brief overview of what you do: I currently manage the Safety Department at PSA Airlines. This includes oversight of the voluntarily Safety Programs, as well as the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for Pilots, Mechanics and Dispatchers. This program is a voluntary reporting system which allows employees to report hazards to the company. This program alone receives well over 2,200 reports each year. Other programs I oversee are the Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, which analyzes flight data from the airplanes, the Fatigue Risk Management Program (FRMP) for both Pilots and Flight Attendants, the Line Operation Safety Audit (LOSA) program and PSA’s Emergency Response program.

Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? One of the greatest benefits of working at an airline, in my opinion, is the travel. I have always dreamed of traveling the world and now I am able to. I have travelled quite a bit over the past three years, including trips to Europe, Hawaii, Alaska and several trips around the continental United States. Out of all of the places that I have traveled to so far, my favorite is definitely Alaska. Alaska is the most amazing place I have ever been and I look forward to going back.

What are some of your hobbies? I have several hobbies outside of work. I am a pilot and enjoy flying as much as I can. This includes some flight instruction and leisure flying on the weekends to build more flight hours. I also enjoy most all of the high adventure sports like hiking, boating, snow skiing, traveling, riding horses and many more.

What do you love about working for PSA? Definitely the people at PSA. I enjoy the family atmosphere that PSA has been able to maintain throughout all of the growth.

Why would you recommend PSA? I would absolutely recommend PSA to anyone looking for a career in Aviation. PSA is tripling in size and hiring lots of talented people. It is very exciting to be a part of a company that is growing so rapidly. PSA is an excellent company to work for and they reward hard work.

Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: In my role as the Safety Manager I get to interact with most of the departments at PSA. I work closely with almost every department which allows me to interact with more people and gain a better understanding of each department’s processes/procedures.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job? The most rewarding part of the job is definitely the feeling of making a difference. Each day, the Safety Department works hard to make PSA a better, safer place to work for all employees. We analyze thousands of reports and identify areas where we can improve. We work with all of the Departments at the Airline each day to make PSA a better place to work.

Tell us something no one know about you: My goal since I was young was always to fly. I soloed a Piper Cub days after my 16th birthday and received my Private Pilot’s licenses on my 17th birthday. Since then, I worked on getting all of the required pilot ratings as quickly as I could. Now, I am trying to build the 1,500 hours of required flight time as quickly as I can to become certified at PSA.