In the DFW control center, their main function is to orchestrate the aircraft traffic coming in and out of the airport to ensure a safe, orderly operation. Like maestros conducting a symphony, the Envoy ground traffic controllers and coordinators carefully arrange the DFW ramp into a beautiful song composed of millions of moving parts.
Together with American Airlines, Envoy controls its ground traffic in the newly built Control center at DFW. Within the Envoy ranks, three women with decades of experience have become Mensa-caliber puzzle masters, piecing together a successful day of operations.
In this three-part series, we’ll meet a few of the women who make the “heartbeat” of Envoy Operations, and learn how people come together from all different backgrounds to meet a common goal.
Ginny Pelotte – Operations Planning Agent
Ginny Pelotte poses in front of her desk at the DFW Virtual Control Center.
It was a morning just like any other in the control center, and Ginny, wearing her festive red holiday sweater, was prepared to take on the busy ten-o’clock block of departures in Terminal B. She put on her headset, stood in front of the giant touch-screen monitors that showed a map of the terminal with little plane icons, and began chatting with pilots requesting direction.
Like a chess master moving pawns and bishops, she pressed the little plane icons and moved them in and out of gates, down runways and onto maintenance pads. All the while, she talks to about three different people each minute, and greets everyone with a friendly hello.
Watching the way Ginny effortlessly performed the seemingly arduous task, it’s apparent that she has spent many years mastering her position of ground traffic controller. All together from the different airlines and job titles, Ginny has 34 years of experience in the aviation industry.
Not in Kansas anymore
Photo taken by Ginny of the Swearingen Metro during her days in Roswell working for Air Midwest.
But for a short time, Ginny almost became a teacher when she moved from her teeny, tiny hometown in Kansas to Portland, Oregon to pursue an education degree. However, Ginny had an urge “to see the world” she said, so she applied for a job at Air Midwest in Roswell, New Mexico where she would begin her aviation career as a gate agent.
Over the next nine years, Ginny would move from Roswell to Knoxville, Tenn. and then to DFW where she worked as a gate agent for Flagship Airlines, one of the regional carriers that would eventually merge to become Envoy.
“I came into the airline business on the ground floor,” said Ginny. “As an agent at the smaller airports, I would check-in passengers, guide in the plane, carry bags, then get on the intercom to board passengers and pretend like I wasn’t out of breath. In my position now, I have a sympathetic understanding of what they are going through since I have that experience.”
Although she didn’t become an educator, she said she has “no regrets” about joining the airline industry. She gets to travel all over the world with friends and family, she still uses her excellent teaching and people skills to train coworkers, and, best of all, she gets to work closely with people from so many backgrounds.
“Being a people-person, I love that everyone has a story,” said Ginny. “It’s nice to see the world through other people’s eyes. It makes you grow as a person and as a traveler.”
Courage knows no gender
Ginny (center) with friends on a trip to the Alps in 1986.
Growing up on a farm, Ginny said that there wasn’t much of a gender struggle between her and her brother. Just because she was a girl that didn’t mean she didn’t do any heavy lifting or dangerous jobs around the farm – “everyone used the scary, heavy machinery,” she said with a chuckle.
In the workplace, she admits that women sometimes have to assert themselves to get ahead, but that she didn’t really experience much of that in her job. She believes that as long as prove yourself, people will find value in you and your work.
“As a kid, we learned to let go of titles, which allowed us to be more creative in our interests,” said Ginny. “Now, I’m very confident in my abilities and know that I can always make myself useful in any job.”
Her role-model throughout her life was her great aunt who lived to be 104 years old. Ginny spent a lot of time learning from her great aunt, who always loved to try new things.
Maybe that’s where Ginny got her inspiration and courage to change career paths, relocate to unknown places and travel to faraway lands on a whim. Regardless of what her path could have been, following her inspirations – and her itch to travel – was perfect for Ginny.
“Looking back, sure I could have made more money as a doctor or a professor,” said Ginny. “But, in the long run, money is secondary. I believe I made the right choice for my family and for me.”