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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Captain Jay Straub's Life

Began as a Dream....

Captain Jay Straub

Jay's journey started with a childhood dream of flight. The ending may not be the happily every after for his flying career that he imagined, but his life one filled with love, hope, friends and a mission. Change is slow unless there is someone pushing for it. Jay is giving that push despite all obstacles.

Jay Straub: 

"One day when I was 12 years old, my best friend, Michael Mabrey, showed up at school and informed me that he was going to Tradewind Airport there in Amarillo, Texas, and look into taking flying lessons that weekend. Michael also asked me if I would like to go to the airport with him and his dad, who happened to be a retired Colonel in the U. S. Air Force. I was very shocked and intrigued that Michael was going to do this and went home and asked my parents if I could join them.

Baby Jay ready to fly!

They approved, and I went with Michael where he was introduced to, Kimble Neel, an instructor at Amarillo Flying Service. Kimble showed us the flight school and took us out to look in the Cessna 150 that the flight training would be done in and let us look in some of the other Cessna aircraft that were there. I was hooked and went home begging my parents to let me do that too. My dad wasn’t too keen on it but my mom was supportive of it. They both finally approved and I went the next Saturday and took the introductory flying lesson for five dollars. I was hooked and that was a day that molded my future.

I took a lesson every weekend for about three months and Kimble sat me and Mike down and politely informed us that we really should put this on hold until we were old enough to solo and get our private pilot’s certificate. I did that exactly as prescribed. At 16 I got my student pilot certificate and soloed at the end of my Junior year in High School.

I enrolled in getting my Associate Degree in Aviation Management at Amarillo College. When I turned 18 at the end of my freshman year at, Amarillo College, I got his commercial license, single and multi-engine. I flew skydivers and did everything I could to fly and build time. Around the middle of the last semester of my sophomore year, I got a job flying a Cessna 210 for a company that was doing infrared photography of farmland all over the Texas Panhandle.

19 years old and his first trip to Aspen

After a couple of months went by I got a phone call from, Leonard Hudson, the owner of an oilfield drilling contractor business. Mr. Hudson called me to see if I could come for an interview and I said, “Absolutely.” I jumped in my car and drove the sixty miles to Pampa for the interview and was hired. 

What a joy, here I was 19 years old, trusted to fly a business man, his family and associates all over the country. The first flight was to Las Vegas. We arrived, and the passengers told me to get a rental car and meet them at the Hilton Las Vegas. They jumped in a taxi and took off. I went to the rental car establishment and when they asked for my driver’s license they looked up at me and said, “We can’t rent you a car.” I asked, ”Why not?” They said, “You have to be 21 and you’re only 19.” I said,” You have to be kidding me, I just flew this aircraft in here and my boss told me to get a rental car.” They said, “Sorry that’s the way it is.” Everyone had a big laugh when I arrived at the hotel and explained what had happened. 

Photographer too! 

Over the next eight years I flew for three oilfield–petroleum related companies and an air conditioning–refrigeration--plumbing Company. In May 1985 when I was flying for the last mentioned business, a friend of my boss that owned a brand-new Beechcraft Bonanza B36-TC wanted to take his entire family on vacation to Destin, Florida. He couldn’t get them all in his Bonanza so he rented a Beechcraft King Air and had me fly them to Destin in it. He had me fly the Bonanza back to Pampa and wanted me to come back to Destin a week later to load up his family in the King Air to return home. There was another time when I got in the Bonanza and headed for Destin and lost all oil pressure and landed on road named Bloody 98.

It wasn't long until I applied at American Airlines. I went through the three-stage interview process and was hired. This was in December and the company notified me that they could not get me into training until May. I informed the man that I was working for that I had been hired, but would not go to training for six months and that I would be glad to help him find a replacement when it was close to time for me to go to training.

Taj Mahal 

About a week later my boss called me in, informed him that he had found my replacement, handed me my last paycheck along with asking for the keys to the aircraft. That was a shock! So, for the next almost 6 months I was doing handyman work, washing windows, doing part time flying occasionally on a trip by trip bases for a few people until the training date came up.


May finally arrived and I went through training, completed it and was now a Flight Engineer on the Boeing 727 for American Airlines. I was thrilled. Within a year or so I upgraded to First Officer on the 727, did that for a few years and switched to the Boeing 767 First Officer bid status. Sometime in 1991 I was awarded my bid for Captain on the 727.

I finally got my training date and planned to do my usual commute, flying from Amarillo to DFW, to report for training. I woke up around 2 AM with terrible abdominal pain that got so bad I had to go to hospital. When I got there I was begging the medical team at the emergency room for something to help the pain. They couldn’t give me anything until blood tests were done and a doctor approved. This was on Saturday and a number of tests could not be done until Monday.

It turned out that I had a huge gall stone that was almost so large they couldn’t do the laparoscopic surgery and almost had to cut me wide open. They removed the gall bladder and it had gangrene in it. I was thanking the Lord that it hadn’t spread! Unfortunately, a cardiac doctor that got called in insisted that something in the blood tests indicated a potential clogging in the arteries, so I had to have the camera device inserted down by my groin to go up through the arteries and insure that there was no problem. I cleared, and within just over a week from going to the hospital went back and flew what would have been my next flight as FO on the 767 Intl., had I not been scheduled to go to training.

I called to see when my training was rescheduled for. They said they would let me know. I waited a week and called back. They informed me that I had, “failed to qualify,” and my Captains bid had gone bye bye. My next flight, I went into the Chief Pilot to tell him what happened. The Chief basically told me that was bull and he would get it fixed. I waited another week and next time I had to fly I went in to see him. The Chief Pilot told him his hands were tied and he recommended I file a grievance.

I filed the grievance and basically nothing happened over a year long period of time. I finally, after a year, had a hearing, and the end of that, the APA attorney basically gave me a very lukewarm evaluation of things. I couldn’t believe this!

 honoring his Amarillo High 75 classmate, 
Colonel Rick Husband, 
Commander of Columbia.

I later learned that during the three months I was being withheld, was when the company all of a sudden decided they were going to start furloughing pilots. They didn’t really need me in that position I was awarded. So, when I wound up in the hospital and missed training they were more than happy to try and search for a way to take from me my rightful bid award.

Well a short time later Captain Cecil Ewell was awarded the position of V.P. of Flight. He went around the system introducing himself and giving his vision. I attended one of those meetings and afterward went and introduced myself. I told him what I was experiencing. Captain Ewell said he was going to be very busy getting established in the new job. He told me he would try to look into it and if I had not heard anything in three months to call him.

Don't lose sight of the good during the fight.
That’s what I did. He told me to let him do some investigation and I would hear back from him by late afternoon. He called back as he said, and informed me that a check for my one year-plus, in 727 Captain back pay, would be in the mail the next day. He also informed me that someone would call me from the flight academy to schedule my class date before the day ended. 

During that year plus ordeal my dad was in and out of the hospital. When I would commute home through Amarillo I would always head to the hospital to see him. Dad grew up in the depression and every time I came in he would ask when he was going to get to see that fourth stripe on my uniform jacket. He never got to see it. He passed away just a few months before it happened. I would have gladly forgone that back pay for the right thing to be done, allowing my dad to see that.

I went through the training, did well and was glad to achieve my dream, the left seat in the Boeing 727. Everything went great until November 22nd 1999.

In my sixth year as captain on the Boeing 727, 
My career ended and had it not been for a lot of 
miracles and answered prayers, 
my life would have ended as well.

I flew from Tulsa to Dallas that morning and our arrival was late. We came into the C-terminal at DFW and the next leg of our trip was to Nashville which was leaving out of the A- terminal. The company sent a crew van to pick me and my crew up to save time.

I had taken my flight bag and suitcase down to the ramp already. I looked up and saw one of the flight attendants bags at the top of the staircase. I went up to the top of the staircase to bring them down for her. As I lifted her bags the staircase snapped off and dropped me 12 feet headfirst into the concrete.

I was blessed with a true wingman, my Flight Engineer Ans Wishing, was standing on the ramp and he heard a noise. He turned to see what was taking place just in time to see my, 6’3” 250 lb. body, go 12 feet headfirst into the concrete. He came running to me and as he knelt down, he witnessed the blood pouring out of my nose, mouth and ears.

I very quickly went into convulsions and Ans was afraid that I might drown on my own blood being in the position I was in. Ans held me to prevent that until the ambulance arrived, to whisk me away. He got in the ambulance and accompanied me to Parkland Hospital. The next leg of the trip was supposed to be to Nashville which is where he was living at the time. He was planning on having a day and night at home with his precious family but found it more important to be my wingman.

When my ex-wife, Glenda, learned that as soon as my sick leave ran out it was LTD - Long Term Disability and she was going to have to put our house up for sale etc., she followed some friend’s advice and went to APA President for some assistance. He washed his hands of me and basically told her he could be of no assistance. Fortunately, wingman number two came on the scene, Captain Larry Foster, the DFW Base Rep.

He set up a meeting with V.P. of Flight who also washed his hands of me. Then thanks to wingman number three, Captain Billy Parker, wingman number four, Retired V.P. of Flight, Captain Cecil Ewell, took American Airlines President, Bob Baker, up to Zale Lipshy Hospital, to witness the trauma, six months into it, and see me laying in the bed with my feeding tube, barely coherent.

There were also a number of others in the background doing everything they could to be my wingman. I offer many thanks to those that did what they could do to get some assistance from Mr. Baker.

So now almost 19 years later and having not received so much as a one cent increase in LTD pay since I’ve been on it, just before last Thanksgiving, I wrote, CEO Doug Parker, a very kind polite letter, giving a very short synopsis of what happened to me in my service to American and asked if he would please consider a pay increase for the pilots on LTD. I waited a month and having never received a reply, I resent it. As of now, I have never received a reply.

Several weeks later on January 11, I emailed APA President, Captain Dan Carey, asking if I could call him. Several days later Captain Carey called and I shared my request with him. He basically told me that yes, he wanted to get some improvement done to LTD and indicated that I could be of benefit in that. I told him I was ready to participate and was willing to get involved. Carey told me he would have someone contact me. I waited a month and had not heard anything, so I emailed him again, telling him I was ready and asked who I needed to contact to get involved. Captain Carey never called me.

About a month ago I just decided to give a friend a call that has been very supportive of me and the lack of company support. He gave me a name, so I called and learned that the very next day in Arlington, Texas, a meeting was being held by a group of LTD pilots at American. 

I attended and was absolutely STUNNED in learning that now I was allowed to attend an APA union meeting. That I had only received about a fourth of what I should have in the equity distribution, that I’m no longer on the seniority list, and that in accordance with the (ADA), American’s with Disabilities Act, the company should have offered me a job with pay equal to what I was making and would have made up until retirement. I also learned that my union the Allied Pilot’s Association has basically dumped me because he I’m in a group of LTD pilots that existed prior to the company bankruptcy. 

April, 15th, 2018, Captain Carey had agreed to meet with some of the LTD pilots for just a few minutes at the Marriott. I attended that meeting and asked Captain Carey to allow me to speak to the Allied Pilots Association BOD meeting the next day. Captain Carey agreed to give me five minutes.

The next day Captain Carey ceded his opening remarks to the BOD and introduced Captain Jay Straub to the BOD. They gave me a standing ovation. I went over the five minutes but everyone on the BOD were very attentive and let me conclude.

While that took place, there was a box truck driving through American Airlines Headquarters, the Flight Academy, the Allied Pilots Association and DFW Airport with a picture of me in Parkland ICU covering the entire side of the truck, on the other side was a drawing showing an AA pilot that had been dumped into the trash can and the back had a list of bullet points. One good result is that Captain Carey said that the LTD pilots will be restored from Inactive to Active Members in good standing at next months BOD. 

The Future is Filled with Love

I, Captain Jay Straub, am committed to resolving these terrible wrongs and have my hand out to American Airlines management to make this right.

You can see more

You can also join an event 
to support the disability reform at the 
Allied Pilots Board of Directors Meeting on 
May 7 and 8th.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. God Almighty!!!!! What a story... the things you pilots have been putting up with. When pilots stroll through an airport, passengers think that these fliers are on a pedestal wherever they go...

    I'm pretty sure that I would not have survived such
    a fall.

    1. Dan, not many would not have survived. Thanks so much for your comment!


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