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Flying through generations: Chelsea's path to Sun Country

Updated: Feb 15



From her first glimpse of an airplane to the first time she was able to grab yoke of a plane, Chelsea has been immersed in the world of aviation since before she can remember. It all started in 1983 when her grandfather, John Skiba, joined fellow pilots and flight attendants in a local VFW to start a small airline called ‘Sun Country Airlines’.


John went on to work here for many years, including becoming CEO in the late ‘80s. Following John’s footsteps, his daughter Michele (Shelly) worked as a flight attendant at Sun Country. While on the job, Michele met Timothy, who she eventually married. Years later, Chelsea was born. ‘I guess you can say my existence is because of the start of Sun Country,’ Chelsea joked.


Chelsea noted that her father, Timothy, recognized the company liked to hire internally, so he decided to pursue getting his pilot's license. While chatting with Chelsea about her dad, she mentioned that they haven’t been able to fly together since they’re both First Officers, but that she hopes to someday.


Believe it or not, Chelsea’s journey did not start with going to flight school. She took a nontraditional route by first obtaining a Business Management degree at the University of Minnesota. After graduation, she decided to pursue getting a private pilot license for fun.


“On the day of my first solo flight, my dad watched from the tower. The experience was super rewarding and fun, and I realized this might be my passion,” said Chelsea.


She then went on to work as an instructor and later on, worked for Executive Aviation flying medical personnel and life-saving organ donations.


Chelsea ultimately decided that Sun Country was the place where she wanted to become a First Officer. She was hired on April 4, 2023, and took her first flight on August 25, 2023, flying our Boeing 737-800.

Chelsea during her first week flying at Sun Country.
Chelsea during her first week flying at Sun Country.

Outside of her time with Sun Country, Chelsea continues to make a positive impact on the aviation community as a member of Stars of the North, a chapter of Women in Aviation.


“I remember when I first joined the chapter, I looked up to people,” Chelsea said. “I didn't realize it at first, but being in the position I am in now makes me a role model for somebody who was once in my shoes. We, the Stars of the North, are here to inspire everyone that they do have a place in aviation, and if they ever need support or help, we’re here for that.”


Reflecting on her experiences with Stars of the North, she also shared insight into what she’s learned from her father: ‘You never know when your last day is going to be in this industry because it's such a dynamic and volatile career. I’ve learned to never take any day for granted and to enjoy every day. Sometimes you might have delays or weather incidents, but that’s all what makes this such a rewarding career. So, enjoy the journey.’


Looking ahead, Chelsea aims to upgrade to Captain in the next 5 to 10 years, possibly starting a family, and working within the Chief Pilot’s office. Her goal? To play a part in keeping Sun Country's close-knit Minnesota-grown vibe alive and continuing the family legacy.


Curious about careers in aviation? Visit our LinkedIn for more on life at Sun Country.


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