F/O Craig Utas (Delta)

Craig Utas first caught the flying bug when living overseas as a teenager. “We flew back and forth once or twice a year,” he remembered. “It was during one of those trips I realized not only I loved to travel, but also loved being in the airports and travelling by air. I visited a lot of cockpits on those overseas flights, and that got me really interested in becoming a pilot.”

He had a family connection to inspire him as well. “My grandfather was a pilot and was always one of the men I admired most,” he said. “He flew in the RCAF, and later worked for Transport Canada. Listening to all of his stories is probably what planted the idea in my head.”

He reports that he was already committed to becoming a pilot on 9/11, and never questioned that decision. “I was actually scheduled to start my first lesson toward my instrument rating the next day,” he said. “I don't think I ever had second thoughts about it.”

He was already in college at that point, at San Jose State University (SJSU)—Capt. Jason Dahl’s alma mater. “I started taking lessons right after I turned 16 and spent all of college working on my private through commercial multi,” he said, and the scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I was awarded the scholarship right before starting my commercial and multi-engine training, so it came at a great time,” he recalled. “It allowed me to finish those ratings up so I was in a position to start working as a pilot as soon as I graduated.”

After graduating from SJSU, he worked as a flight instructor for a couple years before getting hired by SkyWest Airlines. Today he’s a first officer at Delta carrying on the legacy of Capt. Dahl with every flight.

“I think the Dahl Scholarship Fund is carrying on his legacy by helping so many people start their careers as airline pilots,” he said. “As a result of all the help I received from them and others, I do feel like it's my duty to do what I can to pay it forward.”

Read the latest Air Line Pilot (PDF)