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Captain Joe Gets Adopted

Explorer C
From February through May, fifth-grade students in more than 1400 classes across the country will “adopt” Southwest Airlines Pilots in the award-winning Adopt-A-Pilot program that leads students through science, geography, math, writing, and other core subjects, all based in aviation-related activities. Students also research careers, develop life values, and realize the importance of staying in school. The Southwest Airlines Adopt-A-Pilot program was introduced in 1997. Southwest Airlines is pleased to offer this program at no cost to the school.

I was at Pinkerton Elementary in Coppell, TX speaking with my three classes of 5th graders. Their teacher is the very enthusiastic Adopt-a-Pilot supporter, Sara Hope. Who, by the way, is married to a Southwest Airlines employee at Headquarters!

Anyway, as "Captain Joe," I was getting toward the end of that day's class and during this Q&A time, as usual, the kids are excitedly asking every airplane question they can think of. I answered questions like, "How big is the 737?" "How fast does your airplane fly?" "How far can you fly?" "How much money do you make?" You know, the important stuff. Mostly all about the airplane, where we fly, how much it weighs, how many people it carries, etc.

Off to my left was a student who hadn't asked a single question and who had just listened, very intently, during the entire period. When he raised his hand I immediately called on him and he asked, "Captain Joe, why does American Airlines charge money for bags and Southwest Airlines doesn't?"

Incredible question from this young boy! Quickly realizing that I was talking to a future business major/MBA/CEO-material 11-yr-old, I answered that Southwest Airlines felt strongly that we would earn more customers by NOT charging for bags than American Airlines would gain by charging for bags. He liked that answer and I told him that I knew he would be a future entrepreneur.

Captain Joe

From the mouths of children.