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A LITTLE MORE ABOUT DAVID ISHMAEL
GUEST NO. 8

  • 5 min read

A little about you.

Currently I'm an Inflight Operations Supervisor for United (5 mo's) - Flight Attendant for 5 years prior. 

The Past

1. We certainly don’t want to dwell in the past, but sometimes it’s helps the drive forward to look in the rear view mirror. If you could go back and change one thing about the way you were raised, what would it be? If it’s nothing, tell us why? 

I probably wouldn't change a thing! There are moments in my life that have gotten me where I am now, such as my dad taking me to the Barbados Light Aeroplane Club as a kid, smelling the sweet avgas in the propwash and falling even more in love with aircraft. That passion for aviation has fueled (pun intended) most of my moves in one way or another and my parents (for better or worse) seemed to encourage it. 

2. If you could go back and tell your 10 year-old self, or tell an authority figure, one thing, which person would you choose and what would you say?

To my 10 year old self, I would probably say don't get discouraged by disappointment. Time and again, but especially since I've started my career in aviation, I've noticed that disappointment often stems from putting yourself out there, taking risks and chances. On one hand, it's easy to see these disappointing moments as reasons to give up, not to take risks, or to believe that you are not good enough. On the other hand it's important to see these moments as opportunities to learn and grow. Even if you think you're underqualified for a role, apply anyway. I am grateful to have had some fantastic opportunities presented to me, disguised as disappointments. 

The present.

3. When’s the last time you felt afraid and/or lonely? We’re not trying to be sad here but a little “me too” always feels good. 

In October 2020, Congress failed to pass an additional stimulus package and further failed to pass a standalone Payroll Support Program aimed at protecting transportation workers. In that moment, I felt the crushing weight of what felt like months of tireless work, media appearances, lobbying and letter writing to congressmen/women and the senate, even governors and the president, all amounting to nothing. I not only felt alone, I felt as if literally no one cafred. It was one of the biggest moments of loneliness in recent memory, knowing that myself and thousands upon thousands of others were losing their jobs, livelihoods and passions. But as I said in the previous answer, these moments somehow always have a way of turning into opportunities. 


4. We all know magic is way more than a card trick. So, when was the last time you experienced magic? Or the only way to describe the experience was “magical”?

This is going to sound a little corny, but my final pre-pandemic trip to Singapore was one of those moments. Walking through the various regions and hawker centers of the Garden City day and night, mesmerized by the supertrees of the Gardens by the Bay, the Jewel at Changi airport, and of course, the smells and tastes of the cohobblopot of Malay, Indian, Chinese and Indonesian food cultures. All of thisis nothing short of magical. A 15 year old me, in high school in Barbados would never have believed I'd ever be doing these things. And getting paid for it too!

5. When is the last time you felt the most free? Any tips for how we can replicate it? 

This is a hard one to answer, simply because it's such a reflective question. Perhaps the best answer I can think of happened shortly before the pandemic turned the world upside down, when I began working on my Private Pilot's license. The instructor talked me through my first takeoff, and I plowed through the routine without thinking much of the moment. Some time after takeoff, in a quiet moment of stable flight, it hit me; "holy crap! I'm really doing this?" - I'm not sure if this counts as the most free, but it for sure was one of the most exhilarating moments of my adult life. One way to replicate it is...just try something you've always wanted to do. Traveling solo, shark cage diving, you name it, just satisfy that inner craving to unlock this feeling. 


6. Is there a way that aviation taps into the sacred/holy/spiritual/universe to you? If not - no, wait, there has to be right? 

Aviation is a religion. There, I've said it! There's no other way to describe it. As someone with limited piloting experience, I still would wager good money that feeling of an aircraft responding to your commands, the rush of the moment of takeoff, the occasional thermal bump, even down to the sounds of engines (which let's face it, ASMR was a thing for avgeeks long before youtube). All of these things do tap into my inner religious self. Aviation has the power to move you, in the literal sense of course, but in other ways that transcend definition. Of course, just like faith based religions, it isn't for everyone.

The Future.

7. If you could guarantee 1 thing for yourself 10 years from now, what would it be? Or maybe it’s nothing because messing with the future is tricky?

In 10 years, I'll be a well rounded aviation professional who has left his mark on the industry as a whole. Whatever that looks like, I can't say, but #Goalz right? You see I am very passionate not only about creating the best experiences for customers and employees in my own workplace, but how we can drive change industry wide, to continue to innovate, to push the boundaries, and mindsets of those who interact in any way with this industry. Whether you're a frequent flyer to one who doesn't fly at all, aviation reaches each of us.

8. What gives you hope that tomorrow will be better than today? And thus, gives us all a little hope? 

Beyond the dispiriting headlines and polarizing rhetoric, there are human moments I get to watch each and every single day, merely by being in an airport. I watch flight attendants offering masked smiles and warm greetings on flights, customers occasionally bringing bags of chocolate or another thoughtful treat to say thank  you to airline employees, and co-workers who take care of each other. Little ones getting excited at the prospect of getting on an airplane, their eyes and imaginations lighting up with excitement and possibility when they get to walk into the flight deck, or a flight attendant lets them say "welcome aboard" .These small moments of innocent joy and gratitude keep me going from day to day, and I hope this adds a little joy to yours as well. 

For more about Dave you can check out his instagram feed.

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