Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Like Father, Like Son

Explorer C

Flying my recent three-day trip with my youngest son, Justin Peele, as my First Officer made me the proudest Captain at Southwest Airlines. When Justin was in the seventh grade, he made it known that he wanted to be a pilot and follow in his father’s footsteps. From that moment, I mentored him with the hope of someday looking over at the right seat and seeing my son as my Copilot.

Justin attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and flew five years for Great Lakes Airlines, building his education and flying experience. I was overjoyed when Justin joined the Southwest Family. He attended New Hire training in Dallas in February 2011, and in June, he was assigned to the Phoenix Crew base, where I have been since 1995. That month I was flying with First Officer Terry Taylor, who volunteered to give up his last day of a pairing to allow Justin and me our first opportunity to fly together. It is very difficult to achieve the same trip pairing with my son flying PM reserve in Phoenix and me flying AM hard lines.

Clarke and Justin Peele

The stars aligned again in August, when I woke up to a phone call from Justin, and he told me he had just picked up my three-day trip and would be my Copilot. We were both excited about the prospect of flying three days together. This was to be Justin’s first time overnighting in both Burbank (BUR) and Columbus (CMH). We had a great time eating at PF Chang’s and walking the shops in Burbank. On our overnight in Columbus, some family members were able to meet up with us, which made it a special evening. 

Throughout the trip, I was excited for the chance to pass on techniques within the cockpit that I have acquired during my career as a Southwest Pilot. Flight Attendants, Crew Members, and Passengers continually expressed their excitement to witness this special event. The opportunity for a father and son to fly together in today’s commercial aviation world is very rare. I thank Southwest for helping me be the proudest Captain—and father—in the industry.