Celebrate National Children’s Day with ALPA Families

By ALPA's Family Assistance Working Group

We strive to provide resources for our members to take care of themselves and their families. Our Family Assistance Working Group focuses on fostering a workplace culture that allows for a work-life balance. On National Children’s Day, ALPA families share what it’s like having an airline pilot parent and how they manage that balance.

Captain Nick H. (Endeavor) and daughters Audrey (5) and Emma (6)

What do you think about your dad being a pilot?

Audrey: It’s really cool! I like his uniform.

Emma: I like seeing my daddy in the cockpit. And sometimes we get to watch him takeoff and wave at him.

What is your least favorite thing about your dad being a pilot?

Audrey: When he leaves.

Emma: I don’t like him leaving all the time. Or when he is supposed to come and doesn’t.

Do you want to be a pilot when you grow up?

Audrey: Yes!!

Emma: Nah, I want to have my own restaurant.

How do you manage family life-work balance as a pilot?

Capt. H.: Keeping a family life-work balance can sometimes be difficult. I make sure every time I’m home I make the very best of it. I take my kids places like the park, movies, swimming pool, zoo, or the aquarium. Sometimes the best time spent is wrestling on the living room floor, playing dress up, or a simple game of Go-Fish.

How do you stay engaged with your children while on the road?

Capt. H.: Luckily with today’s technology it’s easier to engage with the family while on the road. I can make a quick FaceTime call and show them new sights as I walk around on a layover, help them with their homework or praise the new “art pieces” they made for me that day. Of course, none of this would be possible without the hard work and unwavering support of my wife.


Capt. Bruce J. (United); daughter, Kristina, and son, Michael

How do you manage family life-work balance as a pilot?

Capt. J: Having run multiple businesses at the same time, I made sure to do as much work as possible while on my layovers. When I was home and the kids were available, I made sure to spend the time with them. When they were in school or sleeping, I did as much work again as possible. I also included my children in my workouts as much as possible!

How do you stay engaged with your children while on the road?

Capt. J: Before cell phones, I always made sure to call home every day and night, as well as leave notes for every day I was away. Once we could FaceTime/video, I would make sure to do this as well at least once a day.

What do you think about your dad being a pilot?   

Kristina: I think the fact that my dad is a pilot is so cool, especially because it was his dream since he was a kid. It inspires me to follow my own dreams when I get to see how elated he is to go fly. From a young age, my dad always told us that when you’re doing what you love, you never have to work a day in your life. His job exemplifies how I hope to eventually live my life—living my dream in astonishment that I’m getting paid to do something that I would pay to do!

Michael: I think it's very unique and in demand, which provided a great standard of living for us throughout our life along with job security. I think it's a great career choice, with the only downsides being inconsistency in schedule and lack of family time if you don't have seniority. All in all, it’s a career I'm proud to announce to everybody when talking about what my Dad does for a living!

What is your favorite thing about your dad being a pilot?

Kristina: I love how excited my dad gets when he visits different places around the world! He always sends us so many pictures whenever he visits a new place, and it’s a way that I feel connected to him regardless of where he physically is. I also love watching him talk to other people about being a pilot; his passion and love for his job is contagious. It just makes me happy to see him so happy! Also, it’s really special when he gets to be the captain of a plane I am a passenger on. I’ve been lucky enough to have this happen a handful of times throughout his career. Getting to see him do the thing that he was clearly born to do makes me emotional every time!!

Michael: My favorite part is getting to watch him live his dream every time he heads out to go fly. I’ve never heard him say, “I have to go to work” once in my whole life; it’s always “I get to go fly tomorrow,” or “I get to go to Hawaii/Hong Kong next week.” His passion for flying comes through in his character, and it’s really rare for people in this world to get to live their childhood dream for their entire life and make great money doing it. I know it certainly has inspired both my sister and I, who are currently living our dreams and flourishing in the careers we’ve wanted since we were little kids—actress and robotics engineer. So, my favorite part is to see the excitement, wonder, and happiness on my Dad’s face every time he sends us selfies from a place he’s never flown to before, like he’s still a little kid overjoyed to touch the sky.

What is your least favorite thing about your dad being a pilot?

Kristina: There’s not really anything that I don’t like about my dad being a pilot, but if I had to choose one thing, maybe it’s the demanding work schedule when he had lower seniority with the airline. He would have to go fly a lot and wouldn’t always know his schedule right away. However, Dad never missed a single important event in either my or my brother’s life, which is a testament to how good he is at his other job—being a dad. I would miss him a lot when he was gone on his trips, but on the flipside, it meant that when he was home, he was available all day for us all to be together!

Michael: Now that I’m older, there aren’t really any downsides. In fact, it’s easier for him to come visit. However, when we were younger, it was hard because there would be lots of days in a row where he wasn’t home. He would leave us handwritten cards though, and we would get to do fun things on his days off like go to Pixieland, then to get pizza at Costco, then finally to Dairy Queen for a chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard. We could also do longer Disneyland trips and vacations because he could get longer strings of days off than most careers allow. There were always the days he was on call too, which limited what we could do that day since he might have to be at the airport. However, even before he was more senior, he didn’t miss a single important moment in our lives. So, there were negatives, but he always worked around them.

Did you want to be a pilot when you grew up?

Kristina: I think I thought about being a pilot for a second because I saw how much my dad loved it, but it never turned into a serious career prospect for me. However, my dad being a pilot inspires me as an actor every single day, making me believe that I can accomplish any dream that I put your mind to, just like my dad did! :)

Michael: I’ve always wanted to design robots ever since I was 3 years old, so not really. I think being a pilot is an incredibly fun career path to go down, and lucrative as well after enough years, but I could never have all those people’s lives in my hand every day I went to work. It's the same reason I could never be an anesthesiologist or surgeon. I also love consistency in my daily routine and home life, which isn’t something being a pilot aligns with. In a way, I can still say that I’m doing the same thing as my Dad for my career—sticking with my day 1 passion and never letting it go.


Captain Bill M. (Frontier), father of four

I have been a pilot for 22 years. Of those 22 years I flew the Black Hawk for 17 years. I was always gone from 2003 through 2019. When I was home, I would tell my ex-wife to take my boys to a location at a certain time. We would fly by as a flight of 6 and I would see my boys waving at me. It was a great sight. I would also take my boys to the flight line and let them crawl all over the Black Hawk.

I have since retired from the Army, and I am remarried with 7-year-old twin girls. My wife and girls have been a big part of my commercial pilot career. I have recently upgraded to captain. The first time my girls saw me with my captain stripes they said, “Four stripes, way to go Dad!” My girls love seeing me in uniform and love telling their teachers and friends that I am a pilot.

My children love watching me fly, and every time I put on my uniform they smile. When I was in the Army, my kids would get my uniform around for me. In my commercial flying, my girls will wake up and walk me out the door.

My girls love traveling. We have taken our girls to six countries (Canada, England, France, Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea) so far and over 20 states. This summer we will be going to four countries (Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and Hong Kong). I would say traveling is their favorite part of me being a pilot.

Their least favorite thing about me being a pilot is the time away from home. My girls will FaceTime all the time just to say, “Hi.” I try to call every night to pray with my girls before they go to bed.

My oldest son is a Black Hawk pilot, and my girls say they would like to be pilots.

When I am at work, I try to keep in touch with my girls and my boys. When I get home and hang up the uniform, I put work behind me. I don’t think about work while home. When I put my uniform on and get ready to work, that’s when I think about work again. My wife and I try to take the girls on a trip every quarter throughout the year.

Thank you for allowing me to tell my story.

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