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Great Lakes (not so great) Reputation

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Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
I don'y know how many Lakers are currently using this board, but I want to make a proposal:

Those of us who work there know the company's shortcomings, but we also know that we have many capable, hard-working people who make personal sacrifice everyday with little or no long-term rewards.

Many who read these boards already have a very negative image of Lakes. The problem is that too many of our peers, most of whom have never worked at Lakes, think poorly of the entire company - including the pilot group.

We know the truth. We know what this company COULD and SHOULD be. We know that if our management had a vision and the ability to plan ahead - instead of always being on the reactive side of the plan - we'd have the resources to make this a kick-ass place to work. (Even if it is a temporary gig.)

So, I would like to ask the rest of you to try and point out the positives (the people we work with) and not only the negatives (the people we work for)when you post about Lakes. Let the other pilots who read this board's posts know that there is a HUGE sense of pride in being a Laker (or ex-Laker) because we do the job as well as ANYONE out there, with so much less.

I know I could have chosen another company to work for as I build 1200 hours a year PIC Turbine, but my experience and the fun and friends I've made here have made up for many of the setbacks. In the current climate, if we're going to be at Lakes longer than expected, let's start working to show each other a little appreciation and start putting pressure on management to get all the broken pieces fixed. That way, those who follow us can benefit BETTER than we have. And the rest of the industry might develop a little respect for Lakes in the process.

(OK bitter friends, go ahead and have at it!! I know there are always a few who won't allow a positive Lakes post)
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laker math

Maybe I'm on crack, but isn't Lakes Part 121?? If that is the case, then how can you log 1,200 hrs a year, when the reg says it's 1,000 max???
You're not on crack, Lakes IS Part 121. However, since we operate only aircraft with fewer than 30 pax seats, the FAA allows us (in our ops specs) to operate under part 135 duty time and rest requirements. Many of our pilots will log over 1000 hours and a few of us will even time-out in December with 1200 total hours for the year (one of the reasons I work there - quicker time-buildng.)

A question for ya:
Just because we operate smaller aircraft, does that make it EASIER or SAFER to fly an extra 200 hours per year? We generally have 4-9 legs per day at an average 1-hour stage length. We also average 20 days per month flown with many of those days being part of 3-6 day trips. We do this with no flight attendant and, often at close to a 14-hour duty day.!!

What I'm saying is: If the FAA will allow it, I'll fly the 1200 hours per year. But, I don't think it's good for everyone. Sometimes I can feel the fatigue and then I have to decide if I'm rested enough to safely fly. That's the responsibility of each pilot. But the FAA should consider their use of this op spec on a passenger carrying, scheduled carrier. It's been good for me, but I imagine it can be used by our management to push people to their limits and (sometimes) into an unsafe situation. Just wondering what you other Part 121 people think.
We Air Whiskey pilots have nothing but respect for you guys. Of course, half of our pilots are from Lakes...

Moutain flying in a 1900 without an autopilot? I think that's pretty respectable. I think if anyone in the industry doesn't respect Lakers it's because of the stigma that $$$ = respect.
Management sucked, but the crews were the best. There's something about being screwed at every turn that pulls people together.
Lakes was by far the most fun place I've worked, and if ORD hadn't folded, I'd still be there.
A proud Ex-Laker
See Youuuuuuu!
Hey Class G
I respect the kind of flying you are doing! I heard that Lakers are good sticks-hand flying and all.
But it doesn't take much to make a poor judgement when you are pushing 14 hrs duty days, remember the MD-80 down in Little Rock a few years ago? Part of that was that the crew was over their duty time.
Fly Safe!
Yep, Lakes kicked butt. And even after all the nut-busting Weinshank did on me...I know he meant well. I LOVE YOU JOSH!
The only thing I hated about working at Lakes was having to fly with the Iceman. Unfortunately now the 1900 FOs have to deal with him again. He is the second coming of Father John. Lord have mer....(oh no, I believe I have just fallen asleep again).
Lakes died when it moved west. It was sad to see a great pilot group at ORD fade away with the companies relocation. Air Willy doesn't deserve the great pilots/people it received from Lakes; if only GLA's management could have realized this.
I was never an employee for Lakes but you guys were friendly and did your job very professionally when I jumpseated with you guys from ORD to Burlington, IA.

I can sympathize with you guys as I am in a company in the same predicament.

Fly Safe!!:D

We have a virtual lakes reunion going on here. Probably not as spirited as the ones at Spirit Lake (or so I've heard).

Class G,

Here's the thing. People who read THIS board deserve to know the truth. There are a lot of people out there that are still early in their aviation careers that are looking at the commuters for their first airline job. And since Lakes comes up often enough, these people deserve to know what they are getting into before starting ground school.

Lakes has some positives and negatives. One of its great strengths is that no matter what your experience is when you come to lakes, it does undoubtedly make you more marketable with the good experience that comes with the job. There are starting to be more and more companies that recognize that ex-lakers make good pilots for their companies because of the experience you get there. And I'm not just talking about experience flying a 1900 or Brasilia, but flying them in Icing/winter conditions into DEN/ORD every other leg or just about, flying in mountains and small uncontrolled short fields. In addition to that they see most of us as having a good work ethic. How else could you have survived working the hours/schedules that we did if you weren't a hard worker.

But if you think that Doug Voss is going to listen to the employees/pilot group on ways to change HIS airline to make it better, I think you are still in a stage of denial. I only spent a year a Lakes, and some people would say that I don't really qualify to speak about it. But I listened to other guys who were there before me by several years and after since I have left, and the story is the same.

Being a Captain at Lakes has got to be one of the most challenging positions out there. Here's a list of reasons why.

1. You are the supervisor of relatively low experience pilots in the right seat of an airplane with no autopilot. Most guys were (pre 9/11, and furloughs last summer) are upgrading at 1500 hours which means the ones left in the right seat are some of the 600 hour total timers. In this kind of environment, you really have to keep your attention focused at all times (esp. with no autopilot) because it only takes a few seconds to bust a clearance. ALMOST All the FO's I flew with seemed to have their stuff squared away, but there were one or two who did something that really got my attention. And Yes, we all make mistakes.

2. You have to be a lot more diligent in keeping yourself out of trouble especially when it comes to making sure you are legal duty time wise. It seems other airlines are much better at informing you when you are about to go over your 30 (34) in 7 time, etc. I can't tell you the number of times I sat on hold while talking to Lakes scheduling while they had to go investigate why I was calling to tell them I was illegal to do something they asked or was scheduled for.

3. Just getting through training there (esp. upgrade) is probably the most studying/preparation I have ever done. I think that is saying a lot, since I graduated from the Naval Academy where academics are reverred as being very challenging. The training was good from the aspect that they didn't want to turn a new Captain lose who wasn't ready for #1 or #2 (read above), but there were some areas which still needed improvement. I got busted on my first Captain checkride because there was a procedure being taught two different ways in the training department. This stemmed from a meeting of all instructors on some changes that were being made and unfortunately some came out with one story and some came out with another. I trained for 5 days in the sim doing it one way (the new way as instructed) and then when I went to CYS to fly the checkride, I did it exactly the same and got busted. The next morning a little pow-wow of instructors and the director of training found out what had happened. Went back out and went around the pattern to complete the procedure the old way, and was signed off with a note on the form saying that previous bust was due to miscommunication in the training department. But nonetheless, even though technically this was not my fault, I have a pink on my record now. Sorry off on that tangent, but still a little bitter over that.

This is getting kind of long, so I will wait and maybe add more or respond to some flaming later about this post.

I will finish by saying that for me, going to Lakes was the right decision, because ultimately it gave me a boost to another position that I desired and has made me more marketable overall. Not to mention, some of my closests friends in the world are ex/current Lakers. The pilot group has sort of a Semper Fi feeling to it.

Until later,

Seeeeeeeeeeeee Yoooooooooooooooooooo

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