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Talking Flight

Alaska Airlines Captain Mike Swanigan interviews the interesting people he has met during his flying career.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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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.

1hr 4mins

8 Oct 2015

Rank #1

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Episode 35: Alaska Airlines Seattle Base Chief Pilot Captain Dave Mets

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.

1hr 16mins

11 Mar 2019

Rank #2

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Episode 39: Alaska Airlines Captain Ron Limes

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.

57mins

29 Aug 2019

Rank #3

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EPISODE 29: Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant Mary Kesselring

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.

56mins

30 Jul 2018

Rank #4

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Episode 36: Alasska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden

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.

59mins

5 Apr 2019

Rank #5

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Episode 42: Retired Alaska Airlines Captain Mike Swanigan

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.

1hr 49mins

31 Dec 2019

Rank #6

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Episode 34: Horizon Air Captain Kevin Nigbur

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. 

1hr 8mins

18 Feb 2019

Rank #7

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Episode 2: Alaska Airlines First Officer Latisha Shupert

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.

1hr 1min

19 Jan 2013

Rank #8

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Episode 22: Mr Tom Lynch, Aircraft Dispatcher for Alaska Airlines

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_dispatcher

1hr 6mins

5 Feb 2017

Rank #9

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Episode 23: Captain David Crawley, MD

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.

1hr 40mins

7 Apr 2017

Rank #10

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Episode 30: Doctor Larry Greenblatt, Senior Aviation Medical Examiner

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.

53mins

1 Aug 2018

Rank #11

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Episode 17 Alaska Airlines Captain/USAF Colonel Garin Tentschert

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".

1hr 1min

23 Sep 2016

Rank #12

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Talking Flight Episode 12: Captain George Bozlinski

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!"

1hr 12mins

22 Nov 2014

Rank #13

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Episode 38: Nigel Sargent, Alaska Airlines Director/Flight Simulation

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.

1hr 4mins

24 Jul 2019

Rank #14

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Episode 25: Retired Alaska Airlines Captain Barry Copeland

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.

1hr 13mins

15 Dec 2017

Rank #15

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Episode 16: Director Systems Operations Bob Bonjukian

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".

1hr

4 Dec 2015

Rank #16

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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.

59mins

15 Dec 2016

Rank #17

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Episode 28: Captain Debbie Waingrow

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.

1hr 16mins

31 May 2018

Rank #18

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Episode 44: Alaska Airlines Captain Elliot Wilson

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.

1hr 14mins

6 Feb 2020

Rank #19

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Voice Blog 2: Do Next

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.

7mins

18 Apr 2019

Rank #20