One of ExpressJet’s own mechanics is a real life rocket scientist.

Darius Hooker, A&P technician – Shreveport, participated in the Team America Rocketry Challenge for three years while in high school. To prepare, he took crash courses in physics, trigonometry, software and more. As a junior, he took his new knowledge and designed a rocket that almost landed his team a spot in the finals.

“For a couple of guys who started out not knowing much about rockets, we did pretty decent,” Darius said.

Darius’ senior year, he took his design from the previous year and made some improvements. He knew it was now or never.

“The goal was to build a rocket that could carry two raw eggs 800 feet 43-47 seconds,” Darius explained. “On our last shot, the rocket made it 801 feet in 45 seconds.”

That last shot earned the team a score of 1, placing them in the top 1% of the country and securing their spot at the national competition in D.C.

The national competition was an unforgettable experience. Darius and his teammate, Wesley Carter, raised $15,000 in donations to help them get to D.C. They arrived on a chartered plane and had a car service waiting to meet them at the airport. The boys spent three days touring D.C., speaking with the press and competing in the national competition.

“As the first African American team to qualify, we already felt like winners,” Darius said. “It was a great accomplishment for us.”

Later, when Darius was in A&P school, he received a phone call from the White House. President Obama wanted to meet Darius and Wesley, and invited them to come back to D.C. to participate in the White House Science Fair.

Once again, they received the super star treatment. Lockheed Martin flew them in and took care of all their expenses during the trip. They toured the National Mall, saw the Lincoln Memorial and biked through D.C. to Virginia. Then, on their last day they went to the White House to meet the President.

“He shook our hand three times – I counted! We were the first ones in the room who got to meet him. It was just like talking to a normal person. He asked us all about the competition and what we planned to do in the future.”

Darius now works as an A&P technician at our Shreveport base. His long term goal is to get a degree in aeronautical engineering and management.

“Working at ExpressJet and working on aircraft will definitely give me the upper hand in my classes and my future.”

Pictured: Darius, Wesley and President Obama


Kevin Roberts, Shreveport Maintenance base manager, has been in the aviation industry since he was 15. Kevin says he owes much of his success to the mentors he had in high school and throughout his career, so he was happy accept to the opportunity to lead the Shreveport Maintenance Mentorship Program at ExpressJet.

“The Mentorship program allows our senior mechanics to work closely with those new to ExpressJet. This creates a family atmosphere and gives newbies a person to look to with questions, but most importantly it ensures that our new mechanics are successful,” said Kevin.

Kevin attended pilot ground school in high school and received his solo pilot’s license before he received his driver’s license. After graduation, he landed a corporate job in the aviation industry where he worked for many years. During this time, Kevin also received his Aircraft and Powerplant License (A&P) which allowed him to accept a position as an aircraft mechanic at ExpressJet in 1990.

“In my 24 years with ExpressJet, I’ve had several opportunities to further my career,” he said. “Overseeing the Shreveport Mentorship program has been one of my most meaningful projects.”

The Mentorship program in SHV was initiated in 2012 to help facilitate the high new-hire rate. Knowing the program was going to need a leader, Kevin, who was a Maintenance supervisor at the time, was assigned to be in charge. Kevin took the project by the horns and has dedicated much of his time to coaching mentors and working to improve the program.

“My goal with the Mentorship program is to expand it to our other Maintenance bases and have it tailor-made to meet the individual needs of each base,” said Kevin.

Since being promoted to Base Manager in SHV, Kevin has had to delegate a lot of responsibility when it comes to the Mentorship program, but he still remains very active in developing the structure and schedule. Kevin and his core team of mentors are the reason the Mentorship program has been so successful and continues to advance toward a positive future.

“Kevin has a great work ethic and truly dedicates himself to every project,” said Bill Hartwell – general manager, Maintenance. “The Mentorship program has thrived under his leadership.”

Outside of work, Kevin enjoys rebuilding antique vehicles, running, cycling, working out at the gym, triathlons, motorcycles and traveling with his family. He also regularly participates in Tough Mudder events sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project, and he always encourages others to participate with him.

“By being a part of a company that has seen its share of highs and lows, I continue to have the drive and commitment to keep ExpressJet moving forward,” Kevin said. “This company has been good to me and I am looking forward to more great years at ExpressJet.“

Captain Jim Campbell is the chief pilot of ExpressJet’s second-largest crew base in Houston, Texas.

When I was in the second grade, my first book report I ever did was on the Time-Life book series edition on Aerospace and Aviation. Clearly, I was interested in flying and books, so I took those interests with me to the U.S. Naval Academy where I was an English major.

After graduation, I went to Navy flight school. I spent ten years as a Navy pilot, flying and teaching. I mainly flew reconnaissance missions in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Seas. I spent a lot of time over Bosnia and could probably bore you to tears talking about the Balkan region and the geopolitical repercussions of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

It was occasionally exciting: one time we saw some of our footage of an airstrike show up on CNN a few days later, and another time I got to fly a Navy brain surgeon into Skopje, Macedonia to operate on the president of the country, who had just been car bombed. True story.

After leaving the Navy, I got hired by Continental Express, which later became ExpressJet. I flew the ATR and the ERJ, held positions as first officer, captain, line check airman and now I’m the Chief Pilot in Houston, which is one of the best jobs I have ever had. I can honestly say that some days in the Houston domicile are every bit as exciting as flying Navy recon missions. Come visit us and see for yourself.

Captain Jim Campbell


Shreveport-based Quality Control inspector Gil Montoya and his wife Hope have moved around a lot. They’ve lived in big cities and small, but one thing is constant: there are always people in need, and there’s always a way to help.

“In aviation you move around. I’ve been to different places with ExpressJet all over the country. When we moved to Shreveport, my wife and I noticed there was a lot of homelessness here as there aren’t a lot of well-paying opportunities,” said Gil. “We felt like we needed to do something to give back to the community.”

The husband and wife team started small. They made a couple hundred sandwiches each weekend and handed them out downtown. Soon they began seeing lines of people, 80-100 at a time, waiting for a simple meal. They realized how much of a need there was and looked at ways they could help more.

“The first time we went out, I was a bit apprehensive. I’ve never done anything like this before. It opened me up; it changed me greatly. There’s always something to complain about, but I realize every day that I am blessed.”

In 2010, with the help of fellow SHV-based A&P Technician Charles Robin, they created their foundation, Streets of Charity, as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In the years since, Streets of Charity has expanded its services to collect and distribute diapers, jackets, shoes, clothing and other basic necessities in addition to providing meals.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone. I’ve seen a lot of smart people who are homeless because of accidents, life changes, etc. Many of the guys we help are veterans. They served our country and now they are on hard times. They’re good people and they are people, too. Just like you and me. I’m proud to help them.”

Gil has received a lot of support in this endeavor from his co-workers at our Shreveport Maintenance base. He’d like to thank all those who have supported Streets of Charity by volunteering or donating to the cause.

“You don’t need to have a lot of money to help. If you have love in your heart, you can do great things for others. Streets of Charity is not about giving money, it’s about sharing what we have. Share your time, your experience, your heart.”

Gil encourages everyone to participate in something, whether it’s donating to a local food bank, working for a cause you’re passionate about, volunteering your time to help others or starting your own non-profit. If you have questions, contact him through the Streets of Charity Facebook page. Gil and Hope are happy to answer questions about Streets of Charity or how you can be more involved in your community.

“Anybody can make a change in their community and in the world. We are lucky to have flight privileges which can help us make change globally. When my wife and I travel, we pack bags full of clothes and shoes to donate in our destination. It’s all about remembering people and appreciating all that you have.”

If you would like to support Streets of Charity, you can send donations, clothing or other goods to Streets of Charity, P.O. Box 18494, Shreveport, LA 71138.

“Working with Streets of Charity has helped me change my attitude. We tend to be selfish, thinking about our own problems. But when we listen to the stories of the people on really hard times, it reminds me to be grateful for all that we have. It’s a great feeling to know that I contribute, even in a small way, to better humanity. I challenge each of you to do something today to make a difference.”

Captain Mike Ellis is the chief pilot of ExpressJet’s crew base in Dulles, Va., which serves the metro DC area. IAD is our only crew base with both ERJ and CRJ aircraft.

I first realized I wanted to fly when I looked at all the artwork I had done in elementary through high school – it was all planes!

After high school I went Iowa State University and graduated with an Aerospace Engineering degree.  After that, I spent a few years as an engineer and worked in finance.  I always found time to fly in my free time, whether I was instructing, flying skydivers, or commuting to my engineering job in a Cessna 150 with a rear view mirror.  I also flew engineers to job sites while working for the engineering firms.

After moving to Atlanta, I switched to aviation full time, flying charter and pilot service in a multitude of different airplanes, some brand new, and some twice as old as me.  I started with Expressjet in 2001 on the ATR for a few months, then switched to the CRJ700 when they first arrived.  I have been at Dulles for more than a year now, and have enjoyed the experience tremendously.

We hope you’ll come visit us soon at our Dulles Home Base!

Captain Mike Ellis


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