Business continues to boom at the Airbus final assembly facility in Mobile. Thursday, Delta Airlines took delivery of its fourth Mobile-made A321 and it was a special moment for the pilot who made the pick-up.
Pilot Jared Hodge requested the job for a very good reason.
“I asked for the opportunity to pick up an aircraft in Mobile because not only is that my home town and where I grew up, but (Brookley) is where I first flew an airplane for the first time in my life,” Hodge said. “So, it really means a lot to me.”
Hodge says he got the flying bug watching an airshow at Brookley when he was nine years old.
“I’ve always dreamt about being a pilot,” he said.
Hodge says he and his dad used to stand outside the fence at Brookley fence and watch planes take off and land. When he was 18, Hodge learned to fly at Brookley. He’s been living his dream ever since, the last seven years as a pilot for Delta.
“I wake up every morning and literally, before I fly a jet, I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
Taking a brand new jet from Airbus, and entering it into Delta’s fleet, might just be the most thrilling flight Hodge has ever flown.
“It’s just taking me back,” he said. “To know that I started here in a Cessna 152 and my knees were shaking because it was the first time I was in an airplane by myself, and now to take this magnificent machine, that’s been built in my hometown, and take off from the same runway, and I’ll see the same picture that I saw 20 years ago. My career has taken me full circle back to my home.”
Hodge, 36, graduated from Murphy High School. He majored in aviation at Auburn University where he was a decathlete on the Tigers track and field team.
Hodge began his professional career as a pilot for a charter company at Mobile Regional Airport flying small, private jets. He later trained pilots in Pensacola before being hired to fly regional jets for ASA, a Delta connection airline. He was hired by Delta in 2010. He not only flies the A319, A320, and A321for Delta, but trains its pilots as well. He lives with his wife and two young children in Atlanta.