The Flying Weber Family

By Kevin Cuddihy, Contributing Writer
From left, Capt. Peter Weber, Sr. (United, Ret.); F/O Jack Weber (United); Barbara Weber; and F/O Peter Weber, Jr. (United) on the flight deck of Peter, Sr.’s final flight as a United pilot.

Two years ago, Capt. Peter Weber, Sr. (United, Ret.) flew his final flight for his airline. Like many pilots, he was surrounded by family on this important milestone. Yet unlike many others, his two sons were on the flight deck with him.

F/O Peter Weber, Jr. (United) was sitting in the right seat for the flight, while F/O Jack Weber (United) was on the flight deck jumpseat. And in the back, accompanied by Jack’s wife, was Barbara Weber, a former United flight attendant who became the matriarch of the flying family.

Beginning His Airline Career

For as long as he can remember, Peter, Sr. wanted to be a pilot. “Everything about airplanes fascinated me,” he recalls. “The only question was how could I make my dream a reality.”

He got his first taste of flying as an aerial photographer for a surveying company. The company then offered to finance his private pilot training. “It was an insurance policy in case something happened to the pilot of the company plane, a Cessna P210,” Weber says. “Talk about opportunity pounding on my door.”

That job was a springboard to Emery School of Aviation, where he completed the rest of his ratings. Shortly after finishing his training, Weber was offered a flight instructor job at Kenmore Air Harbor. “I will always treasure the opportunity Kenmore gave me flying seaplanes in the beautiful Pacific Northwest,” he acknowledges.

Weber flew one year in Alaska building multiengine turbine time and returned to Seattle, Wash., to fly F-27s for Horizon Air. “Then I received a job offer from United Airlines, my dream job,” he says. And the dream was about to get better. “At United while working as a DC-10 flight engineer almost four decades ago, I met my wife, Barbara, who was deadheading on one of my flights.”

Starting a Family

Next came a pair of sons: Peter, Jr. in 1991 and Jack in 1995. With a pilot as a father and a flight attendant mother, aviation was in their blood. “As little boys often do, I grew up wanting to be just like my hero, my dad,” Peter, Jr. acknowledges.

“Growing up in the Weber household, aviation wasn’t just a job, it was our way of life. The skies were our second home,” Jack notes. Some of the earliest stories of the young family involve Peter, Sr. and Barbara sprinting from gate to gate to hand off Peter, Jr. as one was finishing a trip while the other was just beginning one.

“Some of my fondest memories growing up were the days my dad would come home from trips,” Jack recalls. “I loved hearing the garage door open and would rush to see him walk in. My dad looked like a superhero in his uniform. And I enjoyed seeing the different things he brought back from the countries he traveled to.”

Peter, Jr. fondly recalls career days at his elementary school and “a sense of pride when my parents showed up in their full uniforms. There was no cooler kid in the class that day!”

There were many other wonderful memories, says Peter, Jr. “Having the opportunity to wear my dad’s uniform to school in fifth grade, my dad inviting me to the cockpit after a flight and making an announcement over the PA telling my mom I loved her, and being fortunate enough to nonrev in first class and having my dad pop out from the flight deck for a brief hello and to hand out pilot wings.”

Jack vividly recalls one particular trip. “When I was in high school, my dad asked me on the spur of the moment if I wanted to fly with him on his trip to Sydney, Australia, later that night. I’d been on many other flights with him as captain, but seeing the entire process—from preflighting with the crew to boarding with my dad—made me gain a new respect for it now that I was older. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that my dad was in charge of that plane and all the passengers.”

Building a Flying Legacy

The Weber sons’ airline training started early. “Growing up, I’d have my parents sit on my bed and critique my ‘welcome aboard’ announcement as the captain of a B-747 about to push back from the gate,” Peter, Jr. recalls.

He started his career flying Hawker 700s for a charter company. “I was very fortunate to gain valuable turbine experience so early in my career, flying for MC Aviation for two years before moving on to another Part 135 company,” Peter, Jr. comments. “Once I reached 1,500 hours and obtained my air transport pilot certificate, I was hired by Compass Airlines, flying the Embraer 175. I upgraded to captain about a year and a half later.”

Then he received the call most pilots dream of: he had made it to the majors, hired by Delta Air Lines. But there was still a childhood dream that he wanted to come true. And on May 25, 2021, “that dream became a reality when I was hired by United Airlines.

“Having my dad pin on my wings brought everything full circle for me,” Peter, Jr. acknowledges. “Every pilot has their unique path and story; I couldn’t have dreamed up a better one for me.”

As for Jack, “Seeing my brother follow in our dad’s footsteps, I knew I wanted to complete the Weber flying legacy.

“After getting my ratings, I became a Gold Seal flight instructor, honing my skills and sharing my passion for flying with other students,” says Jack. “I got my first taste of airline flying as a first officer for SkyWest Airlines on the Embraer 175.”

When the call came from United Airlines offering him a position as a first officer flying the Airbus 320, “It was a surreal moment,” Jack notes. “It was the final piece of a puzzle falling into place.” He now flies the B-787 Dreamliner, the same airplane his father retired on and the same one his brother currently pilots.

Finishing One Flying Story, Continuing Two More

“Thirty-seven years after it started, my professional flying career came to a close,” comments Peter, Sr. “I’ve been incredibly blessed having my two boys follow in my footsteps at United. And it doesn’t get any better than having Peter as my first officer and Jack riding the jumpseat with Barbara and Jack’s wife as passengers on my final flight.”

His sons concur. “What that flight meant to me can’t be put into words,” Peter, Jr. says. “Serving as my dad’s first officer on his final flight will forever be the pinnacle of my career. Jack on the jumpseat and my mom and sister-in-law in back and witnessing the most beautiful landing from the best seat in the house before a water-cannon salute was everything.”

So while Peter, Sr.’s time in the skies has ended, his two sons continue the family’s passion for flying.

“Flying fills me with so much purpose,” remarks Jack. “What I love most is sharing it with my family and seeing the smiles on passengers’ faces, knowing that I was a part of making their journey possible.”

“Jack and I are in the dawn of our airline careers, but we know the legacy we’re continuing. We take pride in that, and we’ll never forget how we got here,” Peter, Jr. says.

Does the Love of Flying Run in Your Family?

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This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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