Rowan James, a United Line Technician based in Atlanta, has been at United since 1986. He was born and raised in Antigua and Barbuda but in 1978 came to the U.S., where he attended and graduated from Aviation High School in Queens, New York.
“I was always curious about airplanes,” he says. “How could they glide through the air when they are so much heavier than cars? What propelled them through the air? I always wanted to know more. That’s why I picked Aviation High School to start my journey.”
One year after graduating with his powerplant license, Rowan went on to pursue his airframe license at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He then began his career at United, and he welcomed his son, Jeremy James, into the world not long after joining the airline. Today, 27-year-old Jeremy is a United Boeing 767/757 First Officer based in Washington, D.C.—and it’s safe to say his passion for aviation started with his father.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a pilot,” Jeremy says. “People who knew me always said how much I would talk about sitting up in the flight deck one day. These dreams, plus my dad working at United, gave me fuel to pursue a job at the same company.”
As a child, Jeremy would always fly United with his family, and the young “avgeek” would ask to see the flight deck whenever he got a chance. Aside from his passion for aviation, he also gives his father credit for instilling a strong work ethic in him. “My dad taught me to work hard and do a good job,” he says, “no matter how big or small a task is.”
That attitude helped Jeremy excel at Middle Georgia State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in aviation science and management while also earning all of his flight ratings and certificates. “I was a flight instructor there for a year before heading to Republic Airways for four years,” he recalls. “Soon after, I had the opportunity to work for United.”
That opportunity didn’t come about by chance; working alongside his father had always been Jeremy’s goal. He wanted to continue Rowan’s legacy in aviation at United, and nearly 37 years after his father’s start date at the airline, Jeremy began his career as a United pilot last September.
“I think it’s very special that I work for the same company as my dad,” Jeremy says. “It’s something my family always talked about, and we always knew it was a possibility—but not guaranteed. It’s nice to have someone, especially a family member, that knows the company on your level.”
As Jeremy continues his career at United, he makes a point to appreciate every moment, knowing that not everyone is granted the chance to be a pilot. “Even though my dad and I don’t have the same role at United, I learned a lot from him about mechanics and how they perform their duties, which will better help me perform mine,” he says. “I deeply respect the larger operation because of what my father taught me.”
Today, Jeremy says he is constantly being recognized at United bases by mechanics, gate agents, and ramp employees who have previously worked with his father. “They all say the same thing to me: How proud my dad is of me.”