Over 800 Southwest Airlines Pilots are Adopt-a-Pilots for more than 1,200 fifth-grade classes all over the United States.
These Pilots volunteer their time, and often travel and rent cars to get to their Adopt-a-Pilot classes. In fact, one Adopt-a-Pilot I have known for years in Chicago hit it off so well with his teacher that they eventually married! After all, we are the LUV airline.
It is a very rewarding educational program covering many aspects of science, aviation, geography, math, and FUN. As a former high school teacher in another life, I can appreciate what the Adopt-a-Pilot program brings to these fifth graders.
In 11 years as an Adopt-a-Pilot, I have thoroughly enjoyed the program, traveling to fifth grade classes in the Dallas area. For the past four years, I have been adopted by Pinkerton Elementary in Coppell, Texas and by the amazing fifth-grade teacher, Sara Hope. Mrs. Hope has completely embraced the Adopt-a-Pilot program and is an incredibly enthusiastic supporter for her fifth-grade classes. Did I mention Sara's husband, Robert, works for Southwest at our Company Headquarters in Dallas?
This was a very special year for these Pinkerton fifth graders, as Mrs. Hope challenged them with a reading program that rewarded the top students who read the most books. The grand prize was to be a flight on Southwest Airlines flown by Captain Joe! Jeremy Basso and Jacob MacKenna, were the winning students. Jacob read 40 books, and Jeremy read 100 books!
Sara and I coordinated a Saturday morning when her two students could make the trip to a nearby Southwest city and return home the same morning. We found a trip where I was flying home to Dallas through Little Rock, and that is where I met Mrs. Hope and the boys. They had flown in from Dallas earlier that morning, and I would be flying them back to Dallas on the one-hour flight.
Before our flight, we preflighted the airplane by walking around the aircraft on the ramp and inspecting it, and then took some photos up in the cockpit. It was a real treat to fly Jeremy, Jacob—two future Pilots I'm sure—and their teacher, Mrs. Hope. We had a super time and our flight capped off a most memorable Adopt-a-Pilot year.