F/O Daniel Schumann (Delta)

Daniel Schumann has wanted to fly since he was 11. His family took a summer trip to Seattle in a Champion Air 727, he said, and “I was exhilarated by the entire process: the anticipation of going to the airport, waiting to board the plane, the acceleration of the takeoff, the phenomenal view, and the excitement of landing. After that flight I couldn’t wait to hop on the plane back home to do it all again!”

When he got home, it was on. “I read everything that I could about airplanes and flying,” he recalled. “It’s the typical aviation bug story: after experiencing flight I was completely hooked and never looked back.”

That first flight for Schumann actually took place a year after 9/11, and he remembers being questioned about his career choice. “The events that occurred that day forever changed the aviation industry,” he said, “and subsequently many individuals advised me not to become an airline pilot.” But there was never really any doubt in his mind. “The regret of not pursuing the career would haunt me more,” he stated. “It was something that I simply had to do, and looking back I can’t imagine doing it any other way....I realized very quickly that changing my goals and living in fear was not what I wanted to do.”

He pursued that goal throughout his youth. “I was lucky enough that my grandfather had a coworker with a private pilot’s license who let me fly with him in his Cessna 172,” he explained. “I was able to do that quite a few times over the summers while visiting my grandparents in Iowa.” He also completed flight training through the Civil Air Patrol and continued at the University of North Dakota, where he received a scholarship from the Capt. Jason Dahl Fund.

“I received the scholarship in 2011, which really felt full circle—10 years after the events of 9/11,” he said. “To receive a scholarship named after someone who gave their life doing what they loved to do was a huge honor, and meant a great deal to me. It still does, as it allowed me to continue on my path and end up where I am today.”

After graduation he was hired by ExpressJet, then Compass, before joining Delta just this year (he was in training as this article was being written). “Becoming a pilot for Delta has been my ultimate goal for over a decade,” he enthused, “so it is an incredible feeling to be here.”

And he remains thankful to the scholarship that helped him along his career path. “Capt. Dahl directly influenced my success and afforded me the chance to be where I am today,” he said. “His life was cut short, yet he is still positively influencing the lives of those who are following in his footsteps.”

“I’ve had many people help me throughout my career,” he concluded, “and would not be where I am today without them. I am very honored to say that Captain Dahl is one of those individuals.”

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