Three generations of pilots were aboard the Dec. 28 Delta flight from Minneapolis to Portland and back to celebrate the career of one Hastings pilot. Steve Weber, a Hastings native, piloted his last flight before retiring with some special guests on board. Weber's 93-year-old father Wally, a former pilot, and and his 26-year-old son, Brian, who is also a pilot, were on the flight along with some other immediate family members.
The flight left Minneapolis at 11:30 a.m., landed in Portland for about an hour and then returned to Minneapolis at about 7:30 p.m. Brian got to sit in the jump seat in the cockpit with Steve.
Brian said it was a significant moment for him to ride in the jump seat because many people can't do that unless they work for Delta or another airline.
But the fact that there were three careers of pilots from one family made Steve's last flight even more unique and memorable.
"It was very special...it's unusual," Steve said.
Steve began his career working at Western Airlines in 1979 until it was bought out by Delta Airlines in 1986. He's been with Delta ever since.
Steve said he grew up being intrigued by flying planes because Wally was a pilot for Northwest Airlines. Wally worked at Northwest Airlines for 39 years until retiring as a captain. Northwest Airlines eventually merged with Delta Airlines in 2008.
Wally said it was really important to him that he be on Steve's last flight.
"What's unusual about this whole thing is the fact that I lived long enough to see my son follow in my footsteps (and) retire," Wally said.
Steve agreed, referring to himself and his father as bookends. Wally, as the patriarch of the family, is the start because he was the first in the family to get into flying airplanes; Steve retiring as a captain is at the other end of the shelf.
However, another bookend will have to be added as a new beginning because Brian will be joining Delta as a pilot next month, transitioning from working at another airline. It will be like Steve is "symbolically passing the baton," Brian said.
As for Steve, now that he has retired, he said he will be doing some farming and working on airplanes. And although he isn't actively looking, he said would do some side flying if something came along. For him, flying isn't just a job, it's a hobby and "it's just a fun thing to do as a family."