March 26, 2012

AirTran’s director of flying to speak at banquet

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Floy Ponder, director of flying at AirTran Airways, will provide the keynote address for Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s annual Alpha Eta Rho banquet later this week.

Ponder has been in his current position with the airline since 2004.  He began his aviation career flying observation aircraft in addition to F-4 phantoms and F-16 single engine fighter-bombers while in the United States Air Force.  After retiring from the military, Ponder was hired by ValueJet, which later became AirTran Airways.  He became a captain in 1996 and a check airman in 2001.

Dinner begins at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 31, at the Carbondale Holiday Inn-Conference Center, 2300 Reed Station Parkway, Carbondale.  Doors open at 6 p.m.

Tickets cost $25 for faculty and others, and $15 for students.  Tickets are available at the weather/dispatch counter at Southern Illinois Airport, and also any individual Alpha Eta Rho member at the Department of Aviation Management and Flight office in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Building, room 127, on campus. 

Ponder will discuss his career and offer suggestions for students graduating from collegiate aviation programs and planning to enter the airline industry, said David A. NewMyer, chair of the SIU Carbondale Department of Aviation Management and Aviation Flight.

Ponder is “a very generous and helpful friend,” NewMyer said.  “He’s always been helpful to SIU by providing fundraising assistance for aviation scholarships and by working with the University on a flight operations internship program.”

It is important that students not only hear from faculty on campus but also industry professionals.  Ponder offers an additional perspective based on his flight experience in the military, NewMyer said.

In June 2006, the University’s aviation program and AirTran entered into a flight operations internship agreement that gives students exposure to the industry.

 “It has been a great connection,” NewMyer said.  “Floy and his staff have been mentors to a number of students who worked there during their internships.”

AirTran’s hub is at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  In May 2011, Southwest Airlines acquired the parent company of AirTrans Airways.