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News / Business / Working in Clark County

Working in Clark County: Chris Baker, airline first officer

By Mary Ricks, Columbian News Assistant
Published: September 28, 2014, 5:00pm

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Chris Baker was about 10 years old when he starting thinking he would like to be a pilot. He continued to think of flying all through high school and beyond. “I graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida,” Baker explained, “and was ready to get my career started.” Although his job takes him away from home more than most, Baker likes the fact that he doesn’t bring any work home with him.

Name: Chris Baker.

Residence: Mount Vista.

Job/employer: First officer for Southwest Airlines for almost eight years.

Age: 41.

Education/professional background: When I was about 10 I started thinking I would like to be a pilot. That thought stayed in the back of my mind all the way through high school.

I graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. After college I returned to the Tacoma area where I had gone to high school. I worked for a flight school and got all my ratings there. Unless you have served in the military, most pilots get flying hours by working at a flight school. You are rated for experience by how many flight hours you have. Then you start flying with a small airline and gradually move up.

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

At Southwest there are about 3,000 captains and 3,000 first officers. Advancement for first officers usually doesn’t happen until a captain retires.

Most rewarding part of job: The most rewarding for me is when I come home I don’t bring anything home with me. When I get to the destination I am done. I don’t bring work home to finish. The travel privileges are also good and my family gets to vacation a lot.

Most challenging part of job: The challenge for me is the home life because I am gone a lot. I try to keep up with what the kids are doing but my wife really handles the day-to-day activities because I am not there.

Commuting to work: My home base is Oakland, Calif., and my commute is based on the airline schedule. I fly to Oakland to begin my day. Sometimes it is necessary for me to leave a day early in order to get to work on time. We (pilots) have a choice of where we want to live, which is very nice.

Personal/business philosophy: My philosophy is to work hard and do the best I can. And to try to learn from my mistakes.

What would make your community a better place: I think the community is pretty good. I am not as involved as I would like to be but there a lot of things that the community puts together, like the farmers market and events in Esther Short Park.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: My wife and I both like Jerusalem Café. I try to mix it up, where we go, to somewhere other than a chain restaurant.

Hobbies: My son is in Boy Scouts and I try to be involved with some of his activities. I like camping, working in the yard and some projects around the house.

Volunteer activities: I volunteer with my church.

Favorite travel destination: Our last big vacation as a family was to Florida. I like history and I think the East Coast is fascinating. When I have time on a layover, I enjoy Philadelphia.

Most interesting book in last 12 months: Bernard Cornwell’s “The Archer’s Tale,” a series of historical fiction.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: We recently saw the stage production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” We are signed up for a subscription for the season series of plays next year.

Something you want to do within five years: I want to continue enjoying my job and keep my family strong.

One word to describe yourself: Friendly.

Person you’d most like to meet: I don’t have a particular person in mind, but I come from a military background, and I always like to talk to veterans who have served in wars. I enjoy visiting with them.

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Columbian News Assistant