An ExpressJet pilot for 24 years, Captain David Dowd says flying was always in the back of his mind growing up, but he never expected his daughter to share his childhood dream and follow in his footsteps.
“It was Ashley’s younger brother who always talked about flying,” David said. “But he suffered a near-fatal head injury and his life turned down a different path. He would have died 11 days before his 13th birthday but his sister’s timely intervention, while the adults in charge sat idly by, saved his life.”
Even though David wanted Ashley to be a nurse like her mother, especially after she demonstrated her life-saving skills, he says he should’ve known she would share his passion for flying. She had been a world traveler for as long as he can remember.
“I thought for the longest time that the only interest she had in flying was traveling overseas,” David joked.
Thanks to their ExpressJet flight privileges Ashley was able to join her father on many flights when she was younger. She loved flying with him.
“I remember getting to pass out peanuts on a Brasilia,” she said. “On another trip with him I got on the wrong plane but realized it just in time! I didn’t confess this mistake to my dad until years later.”
After a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Maui, Hawaii, David pointed out to Ashley their short, blonde, female pilot. The striking resemblance between the pilot and Ashley made David look at his daughter and say, “You know, that could be you one day,” and sure enough, it would be.
Ashley took a few flying lessons during her sophomore year at the University of North Texas where she earned her bachelor’s degree in history. After considering a master’s degree, Ashley decided to pursue her long-awaited dream of flying.
Ashley finished flight school with an abundance of knowledge, and immediately began looking for her dream job. Luckily, her father knew just the place.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, but this company has always provided me with the best training and the most up-to-date information to do my job well,” David said. “ExpressJet has great leadership, and everyone is always focused on safety, yet still manages to have fun.”
Ashley sent out multiple applications and interviews filled her calendar. Other airlines wanted her, but from the first time she walked through the door at ExpressJet, she knew where she wanted to be. Needless to say, her father approved.
“Ashley has always been an achiever. She’s a leader, she has a great sense of humor and she’s brutally honest,” David said. “ExpressJet is lucky to have her.”
Ashley was hired in the midst of big changes at ExpressJet. These changes sent her to Houston where she is now going on three years as a first officer.
“I love being a pilot,” she said. “The office view is amazing and it feels awesome knowing you are doing something only a few people will ever have the opportunity to do.”
The father-daughter team dreams of one day flying together, but they currently work on different aircraft types. While they aren’t able to fly together yet, soon they will both be based in Texas, as David will be joining our new Dallas base in February. Ashley says she admires her father and would love to have the opportunity to work with him directly.
“The only time you want to do exactly what someone else does is when they are really good at it,” Ashley said. “And my dad is really good at what he does.”