Watch now: Gliding Through Rarefied Air - United Hub
People

Gliding through rarefied air

By Matt Adams, August 11, 2017

United recognizes and rewards the passion of our employees through the Volunteer Impact Grant program, which has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to employees who are giving back to their communities. This story highlights DEN Captain Eric Mosley, one of the many grant recipients who are using those funds for the greater good of the people we serve.

On a warm Saturday in June, against the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park's snow-capped peaks, eight intrepid high school students took turns experiencing the thrill of flying in a completely unique way – soaring among the clouds in unpowered glider planes. But it was more than a sense of adventure that drove them from their beds early on a weekend morning; it was a sense of carrying on a legacy that was established nearly 80 years ago by a group of pioneering aviators.

For the past two decades, thanks to the sponsorship of Denver's Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, young men and women from the Denver area have gotten the chance to chase their aeronautical dreams through the Mile High Flight Program, founded by Captain Eric Mosley and his late father, Lieutenant Colonel John W. Mosley. The course, which runs through the school year, exposes kids to aviation in ways that might otherwise be unavailable to them. And each summer it ends on a high note with the highly anticipated glider flights.

"I was sitting at the dinner table with my father and talking about the fact that there were so few African-American pilots in this country," Capt. Mosley said, describing the genesis of the Mile High Flight Program. "We started it as a way to encourage and inspire African-American men and women, but we decided right from the start that we wouldn't discriminate against anyone who wanted to participate. Today we are proud to have students from all races and all backgrounds."

Perhaps no one understood better what those kinds of opportunities could mean to a young person of color than Capt. Mosley's father, who himself had served as one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Lt. Col. John Mosley, far right, with the original Swoop Club

"Dad had the intention of becoming a veterinarian, but that was denied him because of his race. When the war broke out and they announced the formation of a black fighter squadron in Tuskegee, he decided that if they wouldn't let him be a veterinarian, he'd fly planes. That was the most extreme thing he could imagine as a way to show people what he was capable of doing."

Back at the Owl Canyon Gliderport north of Fort Collins, Colorado, the impact of the Mosleys' vision is evident in the look of exhilaration on the faces of the kids as they climb out of their gliders.

"Flying a glider is almost surreal," said Traye Jackson, a student at Denver's East High School. "You're at the will of the wind when you're up there. You can barely feel anything other than the updrafts."

Not only do the students get exposure to fascinating careers and hobbies, they also have the chance to take inspiration from the men who trained at Tuskegee all those years ago. "Against all odds, they achieved," Jackson said. "Despite everything they went through, they strove to be better than what was expected of them."

Mile High Flight participant Traye with his mother, Lucinda, center. Traye is one of the program\u2019s most promising students

As they prepare to embark upon their twenty-first year, Capt. Mosley and his crew of more than 20 volunteers, which includes three of his fellow United pilots, have built a legacy of their own. The program consists of two phases, and the most promising students are invited to participate in "Phase 2" where they learn to fly while pursuing their private pilot's license. Several Mile High Flight alumni have gone on to study at the Air Force Academy in nearby Colorado Springs, and many more have gone on to careers as pilots in both the military and in commercial aviation at airlines around the country, including current United First Officer Andrea Martinez. Regardless, every student who spent time in the Mile High Flight Program "slipping the surly bonds of Earth," as Capt. Mosley poetically put it, walked away with something of value.

"Even though aviation and aerospace are the focus of our program," Capt. Mosley said, "what we really hope to leave the students with is an absolute, undeniable belief that they can do whatever they want to do, whether it's in the cockpit, whether it's designing jet aircraft, whether it's in the boardroom or the surgical ward – wherever. Aviation is kind of the metaphor, but the message is that through hard work and a good flight plan, there's nothing they can't achieve."

If you live in the Denver area and know a young man or woman with an interest in aviation, you can find more information about the program and the Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen by visiting their website, www.colorado-redtails.com.

United cargo-only flights transport critical goods

By The Hub team

When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.

Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort

December 22, 2020

On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
By United Newsroom, December 01, 2020

CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

Scroll to top