In 1995, Jeff Vogt created a standout resume to land his dream job – to become a pilot with Southwest Airlines.
“Right now, there’s so many highly qualified pilots out on the market that in order to get recognized by them, you have to go the extra mile to get their attention,” Vogt told ABC10 News reporter George Warren.
It was more like an extra half-mile in Vogt’s case. That was the size of the crop circle he created in his family’s rice fields near Lincoln. The pattern spelled out, “I [heart] SOUTHWEST. 1-800-I-FLY-SWA. FUN FARES.”
The message was visible to pilots landing in Sacramento, and Vogt’s plan worked. More than two decades later, he’s still flying for Southwest Airlines. The industry, however, has changed dramatically since Vogt was first hired.
“I was talking with my daughter the other day and said, ‘Hey, with the shortage of pilots, if you learn how to fly you could probably get a job as an airplane pilot, with the shortage coming up and the really low percentage of women pilots,’” Vogt said. Fewer than 7 percent of active pilots in 2015 were women, according to the FAA.
His daughter Amanda – just 15-years-old – started learning how to fly on a two-seat Cessna plane decades older than she was. A few months later, she successfully flew a solo flight for the first time on her 16th birthday.
“To solo on your 16th birthday is huge in the aviation industry. It was the greatest day of my life watching her solo on her birthday,” Vogt said.
Now, Amanda’s goal is to become a Southwest pilot, just like her father. It’s not hard to see why – Vogt is as excited about the gig as he was more than 20 years ago.
“It’s the world’s most amazing job,” Vogt said.