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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.

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team, October 27, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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