This Southwest Airlines pilot served for 31 years and on the day of his retirement he got to recreate an old photo with his pilot son straight from the cockpit.
One could say that becoming a pilot runs in the family for Ruben Flowers III. He always dreamt of becoming a pilot and he did accomplish his dream but his actual goal was sitting in the co-pilot's seat beside his father who served in Southwest Airlines for over 30 years. According to PEOPLE, Flowers III's second official flight with the company was a memorable one because he got an opportunity to co-pilot with his dad on his final flight.
Before the dad and son duo went on their flight from Omaha to Chicago, they had a hearty breakfast together. "I wanted to be in that seat," 30-year-old Flowers III told the outlet. He recalled being a toddler and sitting beside his father in the co-pilot's seat for a brief while in the '90s. Flowers III was determined to recreate that moment which was captured in a photograph and he planned to do it before his father retired.
"It was coming down to the last moments," Flowers III confessed, after successfully recreating the old photograph. "We didn’t know if I was going to make it through training in time. It was just great, great to be able to do that. It was surreal to look over there and see him." The Detroit resident decided to follow in his father's footsteps in the aviation industry when he was 17 after noticing how happy his father seemed to be about going to work. "I love flying, it’s the best office view in the world," Flowers Jr. said.
Being a pilot is a popular career choice in their family as Flowers Jr.'s brother is also a captain for Southwest. Meanwhile, his cousin is a first officer training to become a Southwest captain and his younger brother and sister are both pilot license holders who are still training to become commercial airline pilots.
"I look forward to making their journey as well," Flowers III quipped. "It was a dream of mine to make this happen. It was my number one goal to fly with my dad." During his final flight before retirement, Flowers Jr. was not only accompanied by his son but also his brother and cousin. The father and son duo continued their journey on the flight until they landed in Chicago after which Flowers Jr. headed for the retirement reception. "I really enjoyed flying with my son," Flowers Jr. admitted. "It was truly a blessing for me. It was just awesome."
Flowers Jr. also left a retirement note on the Southwest Airlines website. "For my more than 30 wonderful years at the Company, I’ve shared my journey and passion with my family. There are seven pilots in my family now, three of them are right here with me at Southwest," the retired pilot wrote. "The most recent addition to Southwest is my son, Ruben. Ruben tagged along with me to the training center in Dallas growing up to learn more about our operation, experience the simulators, and spend time at the airport, which felt like a second home to him. He flew in simulators with me before he even had a driver’s license."
The proud dad further added that watching his son become a pilot at the same company is an awesome feeling. The duo also got to experience some of Flowers III's first flights as a Southwest Pilot together. "To look over and see your loved ones sitting right next to you is a great feeling. It feels like my son was five years old and running around days ago, and now he’s reading me the flight checklist!" Flowers Jr. added. "My daughter and youngest son are also pilots, and I hope they find their way to Southwest Airlines. From the moment you walk into the airport, everyone with a Southwest badge is Family."