Talking Flight

Captain Gary "Duke" Ellington is a veteran Captain for Alaska Airlines.

Gary went from being a high school football player to a pilot for the US Navy. After the Navy, Gary was hired by Alaska Airlines and has been there for over 20 years.

Duke describes how he overcame some of his college and Naval Flight Training struggles.

Captain Ellington is the recipient of the prestigious Alaska Airlines Legend Award in recognition of his exceptional service to his passengers and his fellow employees.


Direct download: Ellington_release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

Paul Salerno and his brother Bruce started SalAir, a cargo airline in 1980 that served the salmon industry in Alaska. The company grew into to regional cargo airline that provided feeder air service to the major cargo airlines during the 1980s and 1990s. They began by building a fleet of the iconic DC-3 aircraft and later added several Convair 440s to the airline. Mr. Salerno served as the airline's owner and chief pilot, and they went 15 years without a major accident. Unfortunately, in 1995 the carrier had three major accidents that resulted in four fatalities. 

After the tragic losses at SalAir, Paul took the lessons from those crashes and leaned into the discipline of Aviation Safety. He built a new company, OmniSMS, that develops safety systems and certification programs for companies serving the aerospace industry. The website is

Direct download: Salerno_release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

Michael Pittman is a Captain for Frontier Airlines. He is presently serving the company as a Line Check Airman and he lives in Mesa, Arizona.

Captain Pittman graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Aviation Management, where he also obtained all of his flight ratings as part of his college education.

Michael's first job as a high school student was being a baseball umpire. At the time, He had no idea that the skills that he learned running an officiating crew would later be helpful in his aviation career.

Captain Pittman tells us what it takes to work your way into a successful career in aviation.

Direct download: pittman_release_final_v.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 4:12pm EDT

We sit down with my long-time friend, Captain Mike Baumgartner. We met as classmates while attending Alaska Airlines 737-200 initial training in 1984.

Captain Baumgartner's dream of becoming a pilot began when he was a young child traveling from Seattle to Switzerland to visit his grandparents.

Mike used hard work to achieve his dream of becoming an airline pilot.

He tells us about flying the DC3 and making landings and take-offs on several beaches in Alaska to haul loads of fish to market.

Captain Mike flew his last flight for Alaska on the same route where his flying career started.

Direct download: Baumgartner_release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 5:33pm EDT

Ross Belfiore is a 20-year veteran Aircraft Maintenance Technician at Alaska Airlines. He tells us what it takes to earn the proper FAA credentials to enter the Aircraft Maintenance Field and how he was able to achieve early seniority at Alaska Airlines.

Whenever I had a maintenance problem in San Francisco, Ross was often the Technician who responded to fix the problem.

If Ross says that your jet is fixed and ready to fly, you know that one of the best people in the business has solved your problem.

Direct download: Belfiore_release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 10:25pm EDT

Captain Mike Swanigan tells us the story of the most memorable trip of his career. 

In June of 1991, Alaska Airlines started service from Anchorage, Alaska to the former USSR (Russia) flying a specially-equipped Boeing 727-200. 

Mike was selected to be on the crew of the inaugural flight, and he learned that flying in the former Soviet Union (Russia) presented some unique challenges.

Direct download: flight_to_Russia_final2.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:13pm EDT

Chazmin "Chaz" Peters joins us on the podcast to tell about her transformation from a very shy little girl in elementary school to her present status as an experienced Airline Pilot.

We recorded this interview just a couple of days before Chaz gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl.


Direct download: Chazmin_Peters_release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

Captain David Glick is one of the most respected Pilots at Alaska Airlines.

David tells us about the mindset it took for him to earn an Engineering Degree and graduate from USAF Pilot Training (UPT) near the top of his class.

Our listeners will enjoy the positivity that Captain Glick brings to work every day as he flies to the many destinations served by Alaska Airlines.

He also served in the Alaska Air National Guard, where he flew into the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

David has a passion for helping prospective Alaska Airlines pilots prepare for the intimidating Pilot Hiring Board.

Direct download: DGlick_Release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 5:33pm EDT

Captain Kisa Wiley is the Chief Pilot at the Seattle Base of Horizon Air.

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of the Alaska Air Group, and the airline coordinates its schedules and traffic feed with Alaska Airlines.

Captain Wiley is a third-generation pilot. Her Dad, retired Captain Jim Wiley, had a long career with Alaska Airlines. Her Grandfather, the Late Colonel Jim Wiley, was a Tuskegee Airman who flew combat missions in Europe during World War 2.

Kisa had no interest in becoming a pilot until she was in college. Then, one day, her younger sister, Ali, talked her into attending private pilot ground school. Kisa fell in love with flying, and the rest was history.


Direct download: wiley_release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 8:10pm EDT

Getting hired by a Major or Regional Airline is often a difficult and drawn-out process. The most intimidating part is facing a Pilot Hiring Board (Sometimes called a Captains Board).

Mike Swanigan asked Captains Mike Dibello, George Boslinski, and Michael Hendrix to join this episode to discuss the pilot hiring process.

If you are aspiring to be a Major or Regional Airline Pilot, there is a lot of helpful information on this program.

Direct download: Pilot_Board_release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:25pm EDT

Alaska Airlines Captain Millison Fambles joins us on this episode of Talking Flight.

Millison is from Longview, Texas and he was awarded a college scholarship from the Lady Bird Johnson Foundation. Lady Bird was the wife of President Lyndon Johnson, and she served as First Lady of the United States from 1963 unit January of 1969.

When her Foundation awarded this scholarship to Millison, they had no idea that Mill would ultimately step up and mentor hundreds of inner-city children, and change their lives forever.

Captain Fambles had to endure a period of racial discrimination while he attended USAF Pilot Training, but he prevailed and ultimately became a C-141 Aircraft Commander.

After leaving the USAF, Millison got a tip about a great airline headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Of course, that Airline was Alaska Airlines. He applied, and before he knew it, he started class as one of Alaska's newest pilots. 29 years later, He is now a senior Captain. Mill has built a reputation as a great pilot, but he is better known for his success in starting a flight camp for inner-city children.

Direct download: Fambles_release_AAC.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 7:36pm EDT

Captain David “D.R.” Smith is the second guest on our podcast named David Smith. There were two pilots named David Smith at Alaska Airlines, so we called this particular David Smith “D.R.” to minimize the confusion of which David Smith that we were referring to.

David “D.R.,” tells us about growing up in a small town in West Texas and that some of his earliest memories were about his dream of becoming a pilot. The dream was solidified when a small plane landed on the family farm, and the pilot asked for enough gas to continue to his destination.

After college, David entered the USAF and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Randolph AFB, Texas. He flew the KC-135Q, which was the only aircraft type equipped to refuel the SR-71.

David eventually became a pilot for Alaska Airlines, where he had a distinguished career as a pilot. He played a pivotal role in helping the Airline develop one of the best safety cultures in the Airline Industry.

Direct download: DR_Smith_Release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:40pm EDT

This is one of my favorite Talking Flight Episodes. It was released in 2013, but it was lost due to storage problems on my podcast platform. We are thrilled to rerelease it to share with our listeners who may not have heard it.

Blake is one of the most respected pilots at Alaska Airlines. He is a Check Airman and an FAA Aircrew Program Designee. He tells how he achieved his childhood dream of becoming an Airline Pilot.

This a great story, and I hope you enjoy it!

Direct download: Gibson_release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:31pm EDT

Talking Flight is proud to present this interview with Retired Alaska Airlines Captain Michael (Dibs) Dibello.

Mike is a former Navy Squadron Commander, and he later served as the Boeing 737 Fleet Captain at Alaska Airlines. His first exposure to aviation came when his father took him to Boston's Logan International Airport to watch airplanes take off and land.

High School and College did not come easy for him, but after some Navy ROTC advisors' counseling, he improved his study habits and got his degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He was accepted into US Navy Flight Training and went on the fly the A-7 attack jet.

Captain DiBello tells us how the Navy trains pilots to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

He later became one of the most respected pilots at Alaska Airlines.

Direct download: Dibello_Release_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:16pm EDT

Our guest on this episode is Retired Alaska Airlines Captain David J. Smith.

I first met David Back in 1983, when he began training as a newly hired pilot at Alaska Airlines. That meeting resulted in David becoming my longtime friend. David has an interesting story about our first meeting, which I will neither confirm or deny.

David was one of the small numbers of civilian pilots who were able to break into the airlines back in the late 1970s. At that time, more than 70 percent of the pilots hired by US Airlines had a Military background. A few years after David joined Braniff Airlines, the company fell into financial hardship. David was furloughed, and the company later went out of business.

His second chance to land an Airline job came when someone told him that a small company named Alaska Airlines was hiring pilots. David did well at the hiring interview, and the rest was history.

Direct download: DJ_Smith_aac.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 8:06pm EDT

Captain Michael Hendrix joins us on this edition of Talking Flight. He was our very first guest when we started the podcast. At the time, he was a First Officer at Alaska Airlines. He subsequently upgraded to Captain on the Boeing 737 and he retired in January of 2020.

Michael made the decision to become an airline pilot at age of 40. At the time, people advised him that he was too old to be successful in getting hired by a major airline. Fortunately, he decided to go for it anyway.

Captain Hendrix tells us about the various training events that he went through during his career. When he upgraded to Captain at Alaska Airlines, he was shocked at how it differed from the world of being a First Officer.


Direct download: mHendricks.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:25pm EDT

Our guest today is Air Wisconsin First Officer Hunter Bevis. Hunter is the son of one of our previous guests, Mr. Bob Bonkukian, former Director of Flight Control at Alaska Airlines. Even though he grew up in an airline family, Hunter did not start his flight training until age 35.

Before flying, Hunter was a US Army officer, and he tells us how his service as a Tank Commander later helped him as he transitioned into the world of aviation.

Hunter is the host of the podcast Time In Flight.


Direct download: Hunter_release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 8:10pm EDT

Stefan Holt is one of the  News Anchors at WNBC Television in New York City. He is also a Private Pilot with an Instrument Rating. 

Stefan tells us about his lifelong interest in aviation, and how he worked as a busboy in New York City to earn money for his flying lessons.

His experience as a pilot has helped him in his televisions news career to report on aviation stories with a higher level of insight and accuracy.

Direct download: Stefan_Holt_Release.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36pm EDT

Our guest on this show is my long time friend, Alaska Airlines Captain Elliot Wilson.
I have known Elliot since he was a young child, and he has always had the goal of flying jets for Alaska Airlines. His father was a close friend of mine, and sadly, he passed away several years ago.
Elliot tells us about growing up with his Dad and about his journey to becoming a successful Airline Captain.

Direct download: Elliot_Release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT

Mike sits down with his long time friend, Tom Clark, to talk about his passion for flying airplanes. Tom has had an amazing broadcast career and he is presently working as the Film Commissioner for the State of South Carolina. He has a Commercial Pilot Certificate and a Certified Flight Instructor License. 

Tom does a lot of flying and he instructs pilots on how to fly vintage "Tail Dragger" airplanes.

Direct download: Tom_Clark_release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:49pm EDT

Mike Swanigan is his own guest on Talking Flight. His longtime friend, Tom Clark, interviews him on this podcast. Tom is a veteran broadcaster and he is the voice on the intro to Talking Flight. He is presently serving as the Commissioner of the South Carolina Film Commission.

Mike tells us how his aviation dream was almost derailed when he was a 16-year-old High School Student, and how he overcame many obstacles in his quest to become an airline pilot.

Direct download: Swani_Clark_TF.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:19pm EDT

Captain Kevin Kay is the first former Fighter Pilot to join us on Talking Flight.

Kevin took an unusual path to become a USAF pilot. He was accepted to Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) after applying through the Air National Guard. 

Kevin tells us about how he built a network of connections at Air National Guard units around the country to help him figure out what it took to be selected for the program.

This is a great story about how hard work and perseverance helped Kevin to Achieve his dream job of flying the F-16. 

Direct download: kevin_k.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

We sit down with writer Beth Ruggiero York and talk about her new book Flying Alone, a memoir.

Beth's aviation journey begins in the mid-1980s when she started taking flying lessons and started a job as a line person at the local airport. 

Her book takes us on a wild ride that shows the exhilaration of flying airplanes and the dangers of having to work for a few unscrupulous aviation companies.

Beth shares her story with a striking level of honesty. She was not afraid to write about some of the flying mistakes that she made that could have taken her life.

The underlying theme of this book is how a young woman did all of the hard work that it took to be hired as a pilot for a major airline.

Direct download: beth.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

Today's episode is an interview with Alaska Airlines Captain Ron Limes. He is one of the two Chief Pilots at the Seattle Pilot Base.

Captain Lines shares his story about growing up in New York City, and how his 5th grade teacher got him interested in flying airplanes.

It was his High School Guidance Counselor who told him how to get his aviation dreams off of the ground.

Captain Limes also had a brilliant career in the USAF Reserves, ultimately commanding a C-17 squadron.

Direct download: Limes_Release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:57pm EDT

Mr. Nigel Sargent is the Director/Flight Simulation at Alaska Airlines. He is considered to be one of the foremost experts in the field of Flight Simulation.

Mr. Sargent grew up in England and worked on Simulators all over the world before joining Alaska Airlines. He started his career right after high school when he landed an intern position with the British company, Redifon. The company later changed its name to Rediffusion Flight Simulators.

Nigel tells us about his career and the exciting changes happening in the world of Simulators.

Direct download: Nigel_Final.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:15pm EDT

Captain Phil Pope joined Alaska Airlines in 1964. He started in Ground Operations and worked his way into becoming a Flight Engineer on the Lockheed Super Constellation. He later flew the Lockheed C-130, the Boeing 727 and the Boeing 737. 

Phil tells us about his part in helping to build Alaska Airlines into the Major Carrier that it is today.

Direct download: Pope_release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT

Captain Mike Swanigan talks about how he helped his Niece get through a stressful day.

He would sometimes use the same strategy near the end of a long day of flying.

Direct download: Voice_Blog_2-_Do_Next.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:36pm EDT

We sit down for a long-form conversation with Mr. Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines.

Brad tells us about his life journey that eventually lead to him to become the Chief Executive Officer at Alaska Airlines.

We learn about how Brad approaches leadership, and how his late Father still has a profound influence on how he solves problems that come up at the airline.

Brad shares some excellent advice on how to be successful in business and life.

Direct download: Brad_Tilden_final.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 5:29pm EDT

Captain Phil Parrish tells us about his amazing journey to become Captain for Alaska Airlines.  (Previously released in 2014).

Direct download: Phil_Parish.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:04pm EDT

Captain David Mets is presently one of the two Seattle Base Chief Pilots for Alaska Airlines.


David tells us about his career as a USAF Pilot and about his transition to a Pilot career at Alaska Airlines.

We also learn that he had a three-year stint serving as Rocket Scientist at Cape Canaveral.

Several events that initially appeared to be disappointments, turned out to be some wonderful opportunities for Captain Mets and his family.

Direct download: Dave_Mets.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:50pm EDT

This is this first in a series of short Voice Blogs from Mike Swanigan. Don't worry, we will still feature our usual long-form interviews. This is an added feature to our Talking Flight Podcasts.

A lot of people gave me some great advice during my career. I am trying to pay it forward by recording these Voice Blogs. If it helps just one person, it will be well worth the effort.

If you find any of this to be helpful, please pass it on.

Be Excellent to Each other


Direct download: Voice_Blog_1.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:28pm EDT

Captain Kevin Nigbur is the first Horizon Air Pilot to appear on Talking Flight. He is currently flying the Embraer 175 Regional Jet on Horizon's route system.

Kevin earned an Aviation Degree in College, but he had to put his flying dreams on the back burner when he was needed in his family business.

Captain Nigbur tells us the amazing story of how he restarted his flying career after the age of 40. 

Direct download: Kevin_Nigbur_Release.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm EDT

One of the most complex pieces of running an airline is making sure that that qualified and rested pilots are available to fly the airplanes. 

We rarely hear about the men and women who are behind the scenes working to make sure that your flight is flown by a crew of qualified and rested pilots.

On this episode, we sit down with Ms. Trish Barney. She is the Duty Manager Pilot Scheduling for Alaska Airlines.

Trish tells us the background story of how she got into the pilot scheduling world and she gives an inside look at how her Pilot Scheduling Team works their magic.


Direct download: Trish_Barney_release_3.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 7:16pm EDT

Our Guest today is Alaska Airlines Captain JP Wilson. He flies the Boeing 737 out of Alaska's Portland Oregon pilot crew base. 

In addition to his Captain duties at Alaska Airlines, JP is now the Manager of Pilot Development at Alaska's sister airline, Horizon Air. He works with Colleges and Flight Schools on developing the next generation of airline pilots for Alaska and Horizon.

JP tells us the story of how followed his dream to become a pilot for a major airline. He also shares a few suggestions for aspiring pilots to improve their chances of being hired by an airline.

Direct download: JP_Wilson_Release_2.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

Captain Tom Crank tells us about his life as a Military and Commercial Aviator.

Tom tells us about his struggles at the USAF Academy, and how he unexpectedly became an Air Force Pilot.

Captain Crank began his airline career at Eastern Airlines, and he flew the Boeing 727 until the airline started to fail as a result of financial difficulties.

After Eastern Airlines, Tom headed west and went to work for Alaska Airlines.

Tom also tells us how he handled some leadership challenges that he had as a Captain.

Tom's motto is "It's not the mistake, it is the recovery."

Direct download: CTCRANK_release2.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:13pm EDT

One of the most feared aspects of being a pilot is the requirement to pass an FAA Physical exam to keep your license active. 

Doc Greenblatt is a Senior FAA Aeromedical Examiner, and he has conducted thousands of medical exams on pilots. He has a successful Family and Sports Medicine practice in Bellevue Washington.

A family tragedy changed his life forever, and his path to becoming a Physician was not always easy. But he never gave up, and he has been a vital source of support for his patients.

We discuss the FAA medical examination process, and we talk about some of the issues that can affect the status of a pilot's application for a medical certificate.


Dr. Greenblatt gives us some strategies for staying healthy, and he tells us why it is vital for a pilot to deal with potential health problems early.


Direct download: DocG.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 11:31am EDT

Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant Mary Kesselring joins Captain Mike Swanigan to tell our audience about her 34-year career with the Airline.

Mary grew up in an Airline family. Her dad was a Veteran Captain and Check Airman for United Airlines. He Mom was a former "Stewardess" (that is what they were called at the time) for United.

When she was in College, the realization came that she was about to reach the age where she would lose the travel benefits from her Dad's employment at United Airlines. Mary decided to solve that problem by entering the airline career field and began applying for Flight Attendant positions at United Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Alaska hired her, and the rest was history. 

This interview is a wide-ranging discussion about Mary's journey and the rewards and difficulties of being in the Flight Attendant field.

Direct download: MaryK.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 3:48pm EDT

We sat down with Captain Debbie Waingrow two days before her retirement flight at Alaska Airlines.

Captain Waingrow made history at Alaska Airlines by becoming the first Woman to be selected as a Check Captain to train, evaluate, and certify her fellow pilots.

Debbie comes from a family with deep roots in aviation. As a child, she was always at the airport hanging around with her cousin, Jill Richardson, who also later became an Alaska Airlines Captain. They spent a lot of time riding horses near the airport and hanging around their family's aviation business. The two girls were always taking flights in the family airplanes, and they had their solo flights on the same day. 

Please join us as Captain Debbie Waingrow shares the story of her amazing career in aviation.





Direct download: Debbie_Waingrow_release.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm EDT

Captain Rick Jones is the first Corporate Pilot to appear on Talking Flight. 

I first met Rick when I was working as a Flight Engineer Instructor for Alaska Airlines. We were in Vancouver, British Columbia, and we were using the B727 Flight simulator at Canadian Pacific Airlines. My good friend, Captain Dick Jones was the Captain Instructor, and he brought his 12 year old son, Rick, along to watch us at work training flight crews. We became very good friends, and I began to mentor Rick towards a career as a professional pilot.

Rick tells us about his remarkable journey into aviation, and the lessons that he learned along the way. I know that you will enjoy his sense of humor as he tells us about his interesting adventures.

Direct download: Rick_Jones_Release.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 3:48pm EDT


Our Guest today is Retired American Airlines Captain Greg Jones. He is the first pilot from American Airlines to join us on Talking Flight.

 Greg's interest in aviation began when he flew with his family on a Martin 404 from Ohio to New Jersey when he was just 5 years old. His fascination with airplanes continued when he began building and flying model airplanes as a teenager. When he was in High School, he joined the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, and learned more about airplanes, navigation, and aviation weather.

 After graduating from The Ohio State University, Greg served in the USAF as a pilot. He later made the decision to leave the active Air Force to pursue his ultimate dream of becoming a Commercial Airline Pilot. But he ran into several setbacks, including a gear up landing incident that almost derailed his efforts to be hired by a commercial airline. But Greg relied on his religious faith to keep him motivated, never gave up, and he ultimately achieved his goal.

 Captain Jones tell us about his adventures flying the T-37 (Tweetie Bird), the T-38 Talon, the C-141 Starlifter, the Boeing 737, and The Boeing 757.

Direct download: Greg_Jones.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 10:39am EDT

Today we are visiting with my longtime friend, Captain Barry Copeland.

Barry and I were hired into the same Alaska Airlines Pilot Class in April of 1980. It was the beginning of a long friendship as we both progressed through our careers.

We learn how Barry started his work life as a Electronics Salesman in Southern California after graduating from The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) with a degree in Asian Studies and Business.

Barry became interested in Aviation during his transition from High School to College. During his time working in the Electronics Industry, he became more and more intrigued by the idea of becoming an Airline Pilot. He had been advised by one of his pilot mentors to avoid the Airline Pilot profession because of the stringent medical requirements. But Barry decided to follow his heart and go after his dream.

Early in his flying career, Barry made a major mistake, and severly damaged a turboprop engine. But he took responsibility for the mistake, and it did not hold him back from a brilliant career.

We hope that you will enjoy the story about Barry's wonderful life as a Captain for Alaska Airlines.

Direct download: Barry_Copeland_Release.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:31am EDT

Today's program is an interview with Alberto Arroyo. He is a Senior Program manager for Microsoft and has had a long and distinguished career in the Software Business.

A couple of years ago, Alberto was inspired to persue his Private Pilot's license. Most people begin their flight training in a basic airplane like a Cessna 152. But he fell in love with the Cirrus SR20 and decided that he would start his training in that airplane.

The SR20 is a high performance single engine airplane with a very sophisticated glass cockpit display. When Alberto told me that he was going to start his training in the Cirrus, I was concered that it would be too much airplane for a beginner. But he proved me wrong, and he did just fine.

I thought that it would be fun to have Alberto as a guest on the show to tell us about his experiences training on the Cirrus. It is a great interview that looks at flying from the perspective of one of our new members of the pilot community. We hope that you enjoy it!

Direct download: ALBERTO_ARROYO_FINAL.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EDT

Our guest today is Retired Alaska Airlines Captain David Crawley, MD.

David folllowed his mother's advice and spent years in school preparing to be a Doctor. He finished school and started his working career as a Medical Doctor, practicing Emergency Medicine and Aeromedical Medicine.

But a childhood adventure had a profound effect on David. A visit to his Grandmother's house planted a dream that would not go away. Grandma's neighbor, Braniff Airlines Captain Warren Larsen invited David to join him when he went out to the airport to clean the plane that he had flown the night before.

Captain Larsen put little David in the Captain's seat and told him that he could play with the controls, with the exception of a few buttons and levers. That day was the start of a journey that would lead him to Medical School and ultimately to the Flight Deck of an Alaska Airlines MD80.

David's adventure is chronicled in his latest book "Steep Turn: A Physician's Journey from Clinic to Cockpit". You can find his book on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Direct download: Dave_Crawley_Push.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:46pm EDT

One of the best kept secrets in the Airline Industry is the Aircraft Dispatcher career field. These are the men and women who do the preliminary work of planning your next airline flight. They go to work hours before flight time analyzing the factors that will lead to a safe and comfortable flight.

The FAA requires that the Dispatcher and the Captain agree that a flight can be operated safely and conform to Federal Air Regulations. Both the Captain and the Dispatcher must certify that they are in agreement with the plan before the flight can depart.

Mr. Tom Lynch has been a Aircraft Dispatcher for Alaska Airlines for 30 years. He is also a FAA Designated Dispatch Examiner, and he administers the FAA practical checks to graduates of training programs in the Seattle area.

Tom started in the airline business as an airplane cleaner for Huges Airwest. His work ethic and positive attitude helped him to move up and ultimately rise to the level of Aircraft Dispatcher.

Please join us as we sit down and have a great conversation with Mr. Tom Lynch.

For more infrmation on the Airline Dispatcher career field, check out the following link:

Direct download: Tom_Lynch_publish.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

John Steinnes almost flunked out of The University of Washington. His Dad was very worried. He encouraged John to enroll in the Air Force ROTC program that was offered by the University. He was hoping that the ROTC program would motivate John to do better in his studies. It turns out that Father knows best, and John turned his performance around and began to excel.

After graduation from college, John entered the USAF and went to Air Force Pilot Training at Randolph AFB near San Antonio, Texas. He worked his way up the ranks, and later became the commander of the 1st Military Airlift Squadron. That is the squadron that is the home of Air Force 1. The Presidential Aircraft.

After retiring from the Air Force, John went to work as a Pilot for Alaska Airlines. He had a rapid rise to Captain, and he later was qualified as a Instructor/Check Airman. He was forced into retirement from Alaska by the FAA's age 60 rule.

John then went on to work for the Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company as a simulator instructor. He is now the 737 Flight Training Manager for the Boeing Company.

This podcast has a lot of great stories about the Air Force, Alaska Airlines, and The Boeing Company. We hope that you enjoy it!

Direct download: Steinnes_Publish.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT

We visit with Retired American Airlines Vice President/Corporate Communications John McDonald. His fascination with airplanes started when he was a boy spending summers with his family in Cape Cod. He hung around the airport watching airplanes come and go, while waiting for this father to return from business trips.

John started his airline career as a Flight Attendant with TWA. After a few years on the line, he became a Flight Attendant Supervisor and ultimately worked his way into the TWA Corporate Communications Department. 

John served as as the TWA Corporate Spokesman during some of the most difficult times for this legendary airline. He tells us what it was like dealing with the aftermath of the crash of TWA 800. That crash resulted in some major operational changes to the entire airline industry that are still in effect today.

Mr. McDonald also held corporate communications positions with General Motors and United Airlines before moving to America West Airlines, which later merged with American Airlines. He shares his experiences and lessons learned from all of these great companies.


Direct download: John_McDonald_2.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 4:02pm EDT

Episode 19: Alaska Airlines Captain Carlos Zendejas,

Captain Mike Swanigan sits down with Captain Carlos Zendejas to talk about his life and his career.

Carlos moved to the Untied States from Mexico with his family when he was a 5th grader. Spanish was his first language,but he found out by accident that he could speak and read english. Their new home was in the traffic pattern of Laughlin AFB Texas, and he was amazed by the T-37 jets flying over him. He decided then and there that he was going to figure out a way to fly them.

In this podcast, Carlos tells us about the hard work that it took for him to get through USAF Pilot Training, and what it was like to be the Aircraft Commander on KC-10 refueling mission. 

Carlos inherited his parents amazing work ethic and applied it to all areas of his life.

Carlos is now one of the Seattle Base Chief Pilots for Alaska Airlines. He serves the 1000 Alaska Airlines pilots based in Seattle Washington. We get an inside look at what it takes to keep an airline operation running smoothly and safely.

I came away from this interview inspired and amazed by this amazing person.


Direct download: zendejas.m4a
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 7:59pm EDT

Episode 18: How to Get Through Training

It is just Captain Mike Swanigan on today's episode. He offers some training tips to help the beginning pilot.

This Podcast is a close cousin to Ace Your Next Check Ride. That program was designed to help the advanced aviator get through military or airline training. This Podcast is designed to help newer pilots ease the learning process, and to advance through their beginning flight lessons at a faster rate. Mike's theory is that you can learn some of the hardest parts on the ground while "chair flying".

We hope that our brnad new pilots will find this podcast to be helpful

Direct download: How_to_get_through_training.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

Our guest on this Podcast is Garin Tentschert. He is the Seattle Base Chief Pilot for Alaska Airlines, and he is currently serving as a Colonel in the USAF Reserve.

Garin shares his remarkable journey that started when he was a "Surfer Dude" in Southern California. 

He mistakenly enrolled in an Aviation class at San Diego State University. On the first day of school, he realized that the class was actually an Air Force ROTC course. He immediately knew that he was going to drop that class as soon as he could. But the Professor saw something in Garin, and talked him into staying. As they say, the rest was history!

Garin tells us about the leadership lessons that he learned along the way, and the struggles that he had early on in Air Force Pilot Training.

Captain Tentschert says "Part of being a great leader is knowing how to follow. Sometimes, you have to shut up and listen".

Direct download: Garin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm EDT

Bob Bonjukian joins us on Talking Flight and introduces our audience to the Airline Dispatcher and Flight Control Career Field. He just finished an amazing career at Alaska Airlines.

Bob dreamed of becoming a pilot when he was in High School, but life got in the way. So he found a workaround and entered the prestigious field of Airline Dispatching and later became one of the "Field Generals" who makes the critical minute to minute decisions to keep the Alaska Airlines operation running smoothly.

We learn about the behind the scenes efforts of our Dispatcher to assist the Pilots in making their flights safe and efficient. The Dispatchers begin to work on a flight long before the pilots arrive at the airport. They are a major reason why the Airline Business has built such a great safety record.

Bob says "Don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve your dreams".


Direct download: Bonjukian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33pm EDT

Alaska Airlines Chief Pilot Captain John Hornibrook

Captain Mike Swanigan visits with his boss, Alaska Airlines Chief Pilot, Captain John Hornibrook.

They have a great conversation about John's aviation journey, and what it takes to become a pilot for Alaska Airlines.

John shares his adventures as a young pilot flying for Great Lakes Aviation in the upper midwest of the USA. We learn about the people who mentored John, and we talk about the importance of relationships in aviation.


Direct download: Hornibrook.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

We visit with Empire Airlines Captain Mark Holden. Mark is one of our regular listeners, and he reached out to us at

Mark graciously agreed to appear on this episode of Talking Flight and he is the very first Regional Pilot to appear on our program.

Mark talks about his early days flying as a Student Pilot at the Redmond Roberts Field in Redmond Oregon. He met the Airport Manager, Carrie Novick, and she encouraged him to persue his dream of becoming a Professional Aviator.

After getting his Private Certificate as a High School kid, Mark went on to Embry Riddle University to obtain his advanced certificates and his College Degree.

Mark tells us about his varied flying background, including his time as a Freight Pilot, and later progressing into the Medical Airlift Business. 

Mark is currently a Captain for Empire Airlines, and he is flying ATR42-500 in the Hawaiian Islands. The Airlines serves as a feeder for Hawaiian Airlines under the brand name of "Ohana by Hawaiian".

When I asked Mark what advice that he had for beginning pilots, he said "Don't be shy, ask a lot of questions".

Direct download: Mark_Holden.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 6:29pm EDT

Captain James "Zip" Trower visits us at Talking Flight. Zip is a Retired Naval Officer and a Retired Alaska Airlines Captain.

My friendship with Zip goes back more than 30 years. He is an amazing leader with a wicked sense of humor!

In this Podcast, we talk to Zip about his Naval career. We learn about the rigorous training, and what it is like to land a jet on an Aircraft Carrier. Zip also tells us about his duties as a Landing Signal Officer (LSO), and what happens when you have a fake Admiral on your plane.

After leaving the Active Duty Navy, Zip went to Alaska Airlines to begin his civilian career. He had to learn the differences and nuances between Military flying and flying a Commercial Airliner with 140 passengers on board. Captain Don Fox took him under his wing, and showed him the real way that an airliner should be flown.

Zip was part of the Check Airman team that indroduced the MD-83 Aircraft to Alaska Airlines. He later became the Fleet Captain on that jet. We discuss the challenges that they faced in bringing a group of hard core stick and rudder pilots into the digital flight guidance age.

Alaska Airlines spent several years flying into the Russian Far East, and Zip shares some of the challenges of flying into that part of the world. 

Zip says "Put your ego aside, and learn and practice, learn and practice."

I hope that you will enjoy our time with Zip as much as I did. Pure Magic!

Contact us at:

Direct download: ZIP_TROWER.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 5:53pm EDT

Alaska Airlines Captain George Bozlinski joins us on this episode of Talking Flight. We have a great conversation about George's journey into a flying career and his adventures at Alaska Airlines.

Here are some of the things that we covered in this episode:

  • How he worked with a student pilot who had a fear of flying.
  • George's past life as a Mime.
  • His most embarrasing moment as a 727 Second Officer (Flight Engineer).
  • A retirement flight that went rogue, and how today's technology would prevent that from happening.
  • The life of a 727 First Officer (Copilot).
  • How the September 11, 2001 Terror Attacks inspired George to become a Television Producer.
  • George's methods of getting a pilot through a training issue on the 737.
  • The day George and his friends hit a golf ball on the world's longest commercial runway.

This is a great conversation that we know everyone will enjoy. George says "Don't Give up!....Believe in yourself!"



Direct download: GEORGE_BOZLINSKI.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 3:51pm EDT

Captain Mike Swanigan interviews Alaska Airlines Flight Simulator Engineer DeMarco Best about his journey into the world of Flight Simulation. It all began on a 6th grade field trip to the JFK airport in New York.

Demarco tells us what he had to do to overcome his initial difficulties in getting through the challenging USAF training environment. 

Later, they talk about the upcoming shortage of Simulator Engineers and Simulator Technicians.

"In Technology, you have to keep learning, or you will be left behind." DeMarco Best.

Direct download: DeMarco.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 7:00pm EDT

Mike Swanigan gives some helpful advice on how to improve your performance on flight checks. Remember to Bug It, Brief It, Scan It, and Check It! 

Contact us at

Direct download: Ace_Your_Next_Checkride.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 8:08pm EDT

Mike goes up to Canada to spend time with John Lovelace. John has produced and hosted several aviation themed television programs, including "Wings over Canada", "The Aviators", and "West Coast Escapes TV". John is also the President of the Century Flight Club. Mike talks to John about his adventures as an aviator, and about the aviation television shows that he has created.

You can find more information about John at and

Contact us at

Recorded April 18th 2013

Direct download: John_Lovelace.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 12:40pm EDT

Alaska Airlines Captain Mike Swanigan interviews First Officer Latisha "Tish" Shupert. Tish shares the story of her journey from a college basketball court to the flight deck of an Alaska Airlines 737. Her motto is "Wish it, Dream it, Do it". Special thanks to Alaska Airlines Captain Phil Parrish for the opening theme. Note: This is a re-release with audio correction.

Direct download: Tish_Shupert_..mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

Mike Swanigan interviews Alaska Airlines First Officer Michael Hendrix on how he succeeded in starting his quest to be an airline pilot at age 38.

Direct download: Talking_Flight.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 8:29pm EDT

Alaska Airlines Captain Mike Swanigan introduces his new aviation interview podcast: Talking Flight

Direct download: PREQUEL.mp3
Category:Aviation -- posted at: 8:19pm EDT