Like many employees at United, Anton Salameh fell in love with flying as a kid. His younger brother by 13 months, Stefan Salameh, thought it looked cool, so he followed in his big brother's footsteps.
The two learned how to fly in high school, when they ran an airplane washing business in exchange for flight lessons. They would fly their dates to Napa Valley from their home in Monterey, California.
Recently, they went on a slightly farther trip together.
The Salameh brothers, both now United pilots, don't get to spend much time together at home, despite living just a few miles apart, thanks to their conflicting schedules. Anton had one thing he wanted to do before transitioning from Boeing 787 first officer to Boeing 737 captain: fly with Stefan, a 787 first officer. While looking at his second-to-last flight on the 787, Anton noticed the other first officer seat was open. Stefan was on reserve for the flight, and with an assist from United's Crew Scheduling department, was able to get the assignment.
It was the first time at United the two brothers operated the same flight together, a culmination of a mutual lifelong love of aviation. They flew from San Francisco to Chengdu, China and there was plenty of brotherly banter and reminiscing along the way.
“It was funny looking back," Anton said. “We used to fly to impress girls – now we're halfway around the world flying. How far we've come."
As they flew over eastern Russia, the brothers thought back to their parents during those younger years.
“Anton was a newly licensed private pilot and I had just completed my first solo as a student pilot, so we took a two-seat Cessna up together and flew around the California coastline," Stefan said. “My father was always uncomfortable with both of his boys, not even out of high school, flying together. He seems to have changed his mind now that the aircraft is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner."
The two took advantage of their layover to explore the area and hike Mount Qingcheng. The trip was one they always wanted to take, and it proved to be an unforgettable experience.
“I couldn't be more grateful for the two of us being able to do this," Anton said.
Added Stefan, “The best part of the experience was how proud my father was of his only two boys. As a pilot wannabe in his younger years, he has seen us accomplish what he too had dreamed about, and we did it together."