Darren Ellisor

LCLocal resident Darren Ellisor

How long have you been a pilot and how did you start?

I’ve been a pilot for 25 years. I started at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I was there for four years, then I spent 10 years in the Air Force and I’ve been flying for Southwest for 11 years. 

How many hours have you flown?

10,000 hours.

Can you talk about Flight 1380?

Flight 1380 was a compound emergency situation with an engine that exploded and rapid decompression. The plane had structural damage, but we landed safely with 149 people in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, there was one fatality.

What was your experience like?

Looking back, I really relied on my training from the Air Force and my time at Southwest Airlines to allow me to do the things that needed to be done to bring the airplane back safely.

My training allowed me to keep the anxiety pushed to the back of my mind and to concentrate on my job.

Why do you think it’s important to talk about your experience?

I want people to know the story of the heroes that we had in the back of the plane, and to know that flying is very safe. I want them to know that something like this is extremely rare, but if an emergency happens, our pilots at Southwest Airlines have the proper training to handle the situation.

Do you keep in contact with the passengers of Flight 1380?

I do keep in contact with several of the passengers and their families and we’ve become close friends.

What would you say to somebody looking to become a pilot?

They need to get good grades in school—especially math and science, and start flying early. You can start in your teenage years flying small planes, building up your hours and experience. There’s a pilot shortage coming and the U.S. is going to need tens of thousands of new pilots in the next decade. So, if somebody wants to be a pilot, it’s a great time to start working towards that career.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Clear Lake, went to Clear Lake High School and graduated in 1992. After 10 years in the Air Force, we moved back home to League City in 2008.

What do you love about League City?

I love that there’s everything you could want to do here, things out on the water, fishing, great food, great proximity to the beach and the museums of Houston. This is home. That’s why my family and I moved back here, because this is home.

Favorite part of your job?

I get to see amazing things flying through the skies and work with some really great people. I travel all over the country and other countries and get paid to do it—so it’s really cool.

Favorite place in League City?

We love going to La Brisa, Red River BBQ, and the other locally owned businesses. My children and I also spend a lot of our time at the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex for baseball.

If there was a movie about you, who would you like to play you? 

Ryan Gosling (laughs) or Matthew McConaughey. Or I’d love to play myself if they’d let me.

When you’re not flying a plane, how do you spend your spare time?

I am a Cub Scout leader, a baseball coach, and a chauffeur for my four kids!