Faces of PSA- Larry Whitman

Faces of PSA - Larry WhitmanName: Larry Whitman

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.