A little healthy competition between friends and colleagues can prove to be fruitful and productive. But would you ever think that it could fuel a loving relationship between two partners?
If you’re like Envoy Captains Dustin and Leslie Willis, competition is your thing. A little ribbing during a football game between their alma maters, Dustin rooting for Texas Christian University and Leslie with Purdue, or behind the controls of a plane, has helped spark a fun-loving rapport between the two newlyweds.
Dustin and Leslie, born-and-raised Texan and Indianan respectively, were married in March 2019 and have enjoyed every bit of working, travelling and competing together. Let’s hear from the two love-bird pilots in this edition of “Love is in the AAir”.
For the love of all things flying
How did you become interested in aviation?
Dustin: As a kid growing up on the farm, I was always fascinated by the crop dusters and watching them spray the cotton fields. Our neighbors’ place actually used to belong to a crop duster, and he had two old planes in their hangar that we used to play in all the time.
Even though my dad is not a pilot, or anyone in my immediate family, I believe that’s where I caught the flying bug.
Leslie: My dad and uncles had a Cessna 210 they would take me up in on the weekends. I would always ride my bike past the airport and watch the planes.
One day, in eighth grade, my dad took me up after school, and I just loved that you could be in a different state in the same day. My parents then offered to pay for lessons, and I’ve been in love with it since.
How did you two meet? Love at first sight?
Leslie: We met at our previous job, both as First Officers, flying the Phenom 100 and 300s at a private jet company. He saw me walking across the tarmac in my awesome polo and clogs and couldn’t resist, I suppose.
Dustin: I knew she was new to the company, and just had to show her around.
What’s the best part about being a pilot couple?
Leslie: The best part is honestly knowing and understanding each other’s schedules. Most people are like, “isn’t it difficult not seeing each other all the time?”
When you go into it knowing what to expect, it isn’t hard at all. Plus, we get to travel together a lot, so that’s a big bonus!
All work and some play
Do you get to see each other often at work? Ever flown together?
Dustin: We see each other quite often in passing at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, and sometimes have time to grab a coffee together before the next flight. We did fly together once before I upgraded to Captain on Valentine’s Day 2019.
It was a Billings-Montana trip and a quick turn back to DFW. We did have a landing competition on that flight – just ask her who won that one.
Does your work schedule allow you more time together outside of work?
Leslie: The main reason we left our previous job was to spend more time together. Envoy has provided that for us.
Some months are more challenging than others, but we make it work just fine. It’s been great!
Do you get to use your travel privileges often? What are some of your favorite trips?
Leslie: We do occasionally. We would like to more for sure, but it’s been a very busy year for us. With marriage, upgrading to Captain for both of us, building a house and moving.
We enjoy going out to Las Vegas, trips down to Mexico either in Cabo San Lucas with the family or Puerto Vallarta. Hawaii is also on our favorites list – especially Kauai!
Both of you being pilots, is there any competition? Who’s the better pilot?
Leslie: It’s a friendly and healthy competition. We made a bet back at our old company who would upgrade first and I won, but he reminds me who is more senior.
We both are competitive in general, but it’s all in good fun! At the end of the day, we respect each other and know we are on the same team.
What are some of the challenges and benefits of being a pilot couple?
Dustin: I think the pros are that we both understand what the other does. Sometimes aviation can be its own language, but we both know what the other is talking about or feeling.
It’s nice because we both understand the non-traditional schedules. It’s great that we share the same passion for traveling and can both ride in a jump seat if needed.
Leslie: It’s great if one of us has a question we can ask each other any time day or night. We’ve gotten to go on each other’s trips overnight, which is neat! Who wouldn’t want a date-night in the middle of a work trip?
It’s neat to fly with the same people; making friends as a couple through work. The only negative I can think of is sometimes the schedule doesn’t work out, but we understand that’s the luck of the draw and part of the job.