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

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Erik Mathieson

Friday's Fabulous Flyer....

And then some! 

 Erik Mathieson

First a little backstory....

February 23 and 24 I was at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup WA. Who should drop by my table? Erik Mathieson. It had been many years since I had seen Erik. Shortly after he left, a young man approached and told me he wanted to be an Air Traffic Controller. Not just any tower, but in Guam. I said, "I love Guam!" He said, "You've been there?" I said, "Yes, but it's been many years. Maybe... nine or ten."  

February 25th, I received a call from scheduling and they said, "You've been assigned a trip!" Tuesday Morning I departed SeaTac with Captain Erik Mathieson enroute to Guam, via Narita. The world works in mysterious ways... and there is always a reason for everything.


Erik is one  of those Captains that I strive to emulate. He knows his plane. He is patient. He has a way of teaching without telling. He encourages participation, values feedback and wants to make sure that all pilots are comfortable with the ultimate decision. When you fly with Captain Mathieson, you are part of the team. Not to mention he is one hell of a pilot!

Erik's passion for flying had become evident when he told me how it all started. In his case it started on the day he was born... September 24th. Literally this was his day.

September 24th, 1964....

His 11th birthday his parents paid $3 for his first airplane ride. It lasted about 20 minutes, but impacted the remainder of his life. He tells me his lived on a diet of Sky King as a kid. Below is an episode to flashback for all you Sky King watchers. But it's 25 minutes long... so come back to watch after you leave a comment. 

Erik was one of those kids who spent his days hanging out at the airport, and at 15-years-old he started flying lessons. An aviation truth that holds true throughout time is that those who hang out at the airport will always find someone to give them a ride... and friends with planes are golden. A friend of Erik's had a 172 and a Bonanza. 

Erik knows how to celebrate his birthdays! 

September 24, 1964: First Flight
September 24, 1969: Solo ... Sweet 16~
September 24, 1970: Pilots license.
September 24, 1971: Commercial license.

He didn't get his drivers license until he was 17 because he didn't want to waste his money or time on a car.

Erik's career started during the Vietnam era and he said he wanted to fly to avoid the draft. Something tells me... he just wanted to fly. He joined the Air Force and flew a C141, and flew between Guam, Norton, Travis, and Yakota in 1977. 

But his world turned when he was hired by Northwest Orient in 1984.

From a 727 Engineer, to a 727 First Officer, to a 757 first officer, based in Seattle, Detroit, Seattle. For all of you who were part of those days... bases closed and shifts happened often. It took him a year and a half to get to the 747 as a second officer... but held a training entitlement to the first officer position. What that meant is every month he flew as a first officer.

1991 he became an A320 Captain. 1993 a 747-400 First Officer for 2.5 years. 1996- 2000 a 757 Captain. 2000 he became a 747 Captain.  Then 2005 he left the whale and became and A330 Captain. 


Did I mention he lives on an airport and flies on his days off?

All I can say is that it was a pleasure to fly with someone like Erik. I hope that everyone in their career will have the chance to fly with an aviation enthusiast, who has committed his life to excellence, and knows how to share the dream, his experience and talent with all that he flies with. 

Thank you for a great trip Erik! I hope to fly with you again.

Enjoy the journey!
XOX Karlene


  1. Erik seems like a Captain I'd want flying with! You are lucky that you get to fly with him Karlene!

    And Erik, that last name of yours.. Sounds Swedish if you ask me ;)

    Have a great weekend!
    Jetting off in the A333 Monday morning!

    1. Thanks for the comment Cecilie! I'll be jetting to Atlanta but back when you're arriving in Seattle. Good luck getting business/first class. Second best seat in the world!

  2. Great story Erik! I loved reading about how you've managed to fill your life with what you love to do.... fly!

    I hope to live following my passion just like you seem to have done!

    Thanks for a great and inspiring article Karlene, I love reading about people like this who started to fly at about my age :)

    Swayne Martin

    1. Swayne, when he was telling me his story... it sounded like you! You can have the path that each of your licenses was the belated birthday gift... thanks to mother nature.

  3. Karlene, I was excited to hear that you were scheduled for Guam as it is one of those places that I really want to go. (Like wanting to go to Fiji in the "Truman Story")

    Erik's story - especially the birth dates is amazing. We both know that birth dates have a special significance and yes, there is no coincidence everything happens for a reason! (I actually told Robert about the 3777 and he started laughing. He thought it was great. Only if I had told our mutual friend - a 777 Captain when we had seen him earlier that day.)

    Erik has had an outstanding career already and I am pleased to see that he was also based in another place I used to call home: DTW. He should have continued success and I really would love to meet him someday.

    Thanks again, Karlene for sharing yet another great person with us! Have a great weekend, everyone!


    1. Hi Jeremy, you just might meet him one day. You'll be on a flight, stop up front and there he will be. The world works in very mysterious ways. And... Guam will be yours one day too. Thanks for the comment!!

  4. Yeah his story reminded me with Swayne :D
    Amazing journey and it inspires me so much. Thanks for sharing :DDDDD

    1. The true aviators who have one focus in mind. The sky.

  5. I've known Erik since I was 7 years old, and everything you have said about him is absolutely true. He's very patient, and enthusiastic about flying. He took his son and I up around Mt. St. Helens, and we did our first negative G, holding a pen. :) Never forget those times. He's a great person to know, if you ever get the chance. Great blog. :)

    1. Sara, thank you so much for the comment. I love hearing this story. I wonder if he really knows the impact he made taking you flying. Yes... he is a great person. Authentic. Thanks again for writing.

  6. I grew up with Erik. Spent many a day flying kites and 10 cent gliders. Remember the day he soloed and had his picture in the Journal news. Erik flew, and Brock played hockey...Passion at it's best. Scott Nelson

    1. Scott, this is great! I'm going to send a message to Erik to come and read this. Sounds like he was as great a guy then as he is now. Thank you for the comment.


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