Following in Her Father’s Contrails: First Officer Stephanie Layman Takes to the Skies

All in the Family

Like father, like daughter. This saying is especially true for Spirit Airlines First Officer Stephanie Layman, who decided to follow in the contrails of her father, Jim Layman, and become a pilot halfway through college.

Stephanie’s father wasn’t the only aviation influence in the family. Her grandfather, Roger Layman, was an electrical engineer for Boeing for thirty years. Her mother worked as a station manager for a small regional airline when she met her father. Aviation ran thick in the Layman family blood, and it seemed Stephanie was destined for the skies.

It was love at first flight when she took her first flying lesson the summer before junior year of college. She quickly achieved her private pilot’s license and continued flying lessons throughout college. 

While working as a first officer at Mesa Airlines, flying the CRJ900 out of Phoenix, Arizona, Stephanie recalls some very memorable moments with her father. “One day early on, we both pushed away within minutes of each other—I can still remember taxiing and seeing his A321,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I finally made it—I’m sharing the same office as my dad.’ He was able to watch me take off that day, something he says he will never forget.”

The Layman pilots have shared numerous heartwarming moments working side-by-side, from twinkling their lights at each other on Christmas to following one another in on arrival. This past winter, Stephanie accepted a first officer position with Spirit Airlines and is now flying the same airplane as her father, the Airbus A320.

“Words can’t even describe how close this has brought us,” she said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work, motivation, and dedication to get to where I am today, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the support I’ve had from my parents.”

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