Southwest Pilot’s Wave Inspires Boy


Five-year-old Hudson Hughes was the classic kid at the airport fence in July when a Southwest Airlines captain made his effort worthwhile. The young airplane nut was with his grandfather in the ramp viewing area at Albuquerque’s Sunport International Airport and waving enthusiastically at every passing plane. Southwest Capt. Mike Hickey noticed the flurry of waving from the boy and decided a brief flight delay was in order. He pulled closer to the fence, stopped, set the brake and opened the side window to wave back. Hudson’s mom Trisha captured the moment in the accompanying photo and while it’s hard to see Capt. Hickey, he’s there with his salute to Hudson. “That moment when the pilot waved ignited this sweet explosion of great happiness not only for my son but also for my dad,” Trisha Hughes said in a blog post on Southwest’s Nuts About Southwestcustomer interaction site. That got the wheels turning in the airline’s PR department.

Hudson was invited to meet Hickey on his next pairing to ABQ. He got a cockpit tour and some one-on-one instruction with the Southwest captain, who told KRQE that he, like Hudson, was a little boy at the airport fence. “I think Hudson has a great future as a pilot,” Hickey told the TV station. “It’s just a great love for aviation. I could see that right away.” Hudson also got some Southwest swag and a plane ticket for anywhere Southwest flies. He said he wants to go to Denver.