The University of Texas Flying Club recently visited our Headquarters campus here in Dallas:
Words can't describe how grateful we are for the experience of touring the Southwest Airlines facilities in Dallas, TX. We never thought we'd be able to see as much as we did, but everyone was so welcoming and gave us free rein to ask questions, take pictures, and have a look at all the behind-the-scenes action that takes place at Love Field. Lara, the Employee Communications Coordinator, and Katie Caldwell did an awesome job of making sure we really had a good time.
After landing our planes on runway 13L, taxiing across the field to Southwest's maintenance hangars, and parking next to the planewash (a Cessna 172 looks tiny next to a 737!), we started off by having lunch and taking a look at the infamous deck before exploring the rest of the facilities. We were really surprised at how much memorabilia was on the walls, and how people-centered the company really was.
We even got to see some of the old pilot and flight attendant outfits, and, we have to be honest, there were some outfits we're glad Southwest decided to retire.
The maintenance facilities were really cool to see, and the maintenance folks were ready and willing to answer all the questions we could come up with. We got to see the engines and different aircraft parts that were being worked on for various reasons, and the airplanes that were in for maintenance--some of it as simple as a standard check-up, and some planes completely gutted and being worked on the bottom up. We never realized how large those engines really were until we saw them up close!
After walking all around maintenance and checking out the hangars, we moved on to flight operations and learned just how much work goes into being a pilot and staying safe and proficient. Ken Moriarty talked to us about the types of classes Southwest offers to their Pilots and we got to see where they do most of their training. Then we moved on to what was probably our favorite part of the tour, the flight simulators.
Once you were in the cockpit in one of those things, you could hardly tell there wasn't a full 737 behind you.
Not only did we learn a lot and see some interesting things, but the people were cool, the food was great, and we even got to take home some of those little peanut bags we all love so much, not to mention individual copies of Herb Kelleher's magnum opus, "Nuts!"
Thanks so much, Southwest! And we all agree, after seeing what a great company you are, partying with Herb is definitely on our to-do list.