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A perfect, blue-sky day for a father and son’s first flight

Piedmont Captain Dean Durbin normally drives to work alone but in the early morning hours of April 23, his son, Piedmont First Officer Jason Durbin joined him in the right seat. When they arrived in at Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, they knew it was the start of what would become one of their most memorable days. Jason had just completed pilot training a few days earlier and would join his father for the first time in the flight deck of a Piedmont Embraer 145.

Dean trained Jason to fly in preparation for his first solo flight which he accomplished on his 16th birthday. When Jason’s mother passed away during his senior year of high school, Dean took a step back to give Jason the time he needed to research a career that was right for him after graduation. “Six months later he told me he wanted to fly planes for a living, and I couldn’t have been happier,” beams Dean.

His father encouraged him to join a wholly-owned carrier to take advantage of a regional carrier’s flow program to a mainline carrier. “I chose Piedmont because I saw how the company treated my dad through COVID by not furloughing a single pilot; that spoke volumes because other regional airlines had furloughed pilots,” recalls Jason. Jason joined the Piedmont Cadet Program in November 2022, two years to the month of his mother’s passing.

When they arrived in MDT at their departing plane, their roles shifted from father and son to work colleagues, and each had a job to do to get ready for their departure. “My Dad is my role model,” Jason shares proudly. “By sharing this day with him, I hope it honors him. I wouldn’t be here without his guidance and support.” As the sun was rising, the pair officially departed Harrisburg on the first leg of their journey headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.

After a safe and smooth landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Jason received a meaningful compliment from his Dad which he says was one of the flight’s memorable moments. “I want to make my Dad proud, so that was cool to hear.” The flight attendant on board shared with passengers that a father and son were flying the plane, and many stopped by the flight deck as they deplaned to says congratulations.

Turning the aircraft in Charlotte (CLT), the pair headed to Salisbury, Maryland (SBY) to end their perfect weather day before flying out the following morning. While in Salisbury, Jason and Dean visited Piedmont’s Operations Control Center (OCC) and maintenance hangar before renting a car to enjoy the rest of the day at the beach.

“Being able to fly with my son was really cool and not something that many people can say they have done,” reflects Dean. “I’m so proud that he chose to follow in my footsteps. He’s a third-generation pilot and at his young age, has his whole life ahead of him.” Dean shares that after seeing Jason accomplish becoming a pilot, his daughter has started taking flight lessons.

Jason echoes the sentiment by sharing the experience to fly with his dad was pretty cool. “My Dad and I have been through thick and thin, and I hope I continue to make him proud,” shares Jason. “I wouldn’t be where I am if he wasn’t here to guide me.”