Winging it together: Father, son from Hastings pilot plane to Amsterdam
Bring your kid to work day takes on a whole new meaning when two professional careers coincide.
Alan Blankenship, a captain for Delta Air Lines, has been flying for nearly 34 years.
His son, Wes Blankenship, has been a co-pilot for the same airline for almost three years.
On May 19, at 5:45 p.m. the father-son duo with Hastings roots flew from Seattle to Amsterdam on a flight the they will never forget.
Alan wanted to be a pilot for as long as he could remember. When he was younger, his family would fly to visit his grandparents in West Virginia and he remembers staring out the window of the plane, fascinated by the wing of the aircraft.
"My dad said that I turned to him and said that this is what I wanted to do for a living," the senior Blankenship said.
For son Wes, the passion for flying wasn't quite as obvious.
It wasn't until a discovery flight in Florida that he fell in love with being in the air and his career as a pilot quite literally took off.
Blankenship encouraged his son to apply to every airline, and Wes was happily hired by Delta.
While it is not unheard of, it is rare to have relatives in the cockpit; many different factors need to line up for this to happen.
Alan had been working as a captain for Delta's Boeing 747 when the airplane was retired. In January, he was reassigned to what happened to be the same aircraft as his son.
The timing of this reassignment was perfect, Alan said, as Wes may not ever have gotten enough seniority in time to fly with his dad on the 747.
"He's relatively junior on the airplane and I'm relatively senior," Alan said, a factor that worked out for them in the pairing of pilot and co-pilot.
Despite the novelty of the situation, the Blankenships said that they treated the flight like the job that it was, but they couldn't help saying, "Wow this is cool."
Alan's wife and Wes' wife and daughter o were along for the special flight. The family members took plenty of pictures together.
"It makes both of our careers that much better for the fact that we were able to do this," Alan said.
From the viewpoint of an experienced pilot, he said he was impressed with his son's performance. "He's very good, these kids that they are hiring these days are so smart and so sharp."
Overall, the duo found the flight to be a cool experience.
"I'm glad that it worked out and it is something I will look back on and remember for the rest of my life," Alan said.