Envoy has celebrated numerous milestones throughout its storied history, but one of the most memorable was when we introduced the Embraer 145 (E145) to our fleet back in February 1998. After years of only operating turboprop planes, Envoy, then American Eagle Airlines, would fly regional jets for the very first time, allowing for more customers on board our regional aircraft and more destinations than before.
Chicago-based Envoy Flight Attendant Tami Aspan was a Flight Service Training Manager the day we announced our partnership with Embraer – that continues to this day – and remembers it like it was yesterday.
“Most of our flight attendants were used to flying prop planes, so our team went into planning mode to equip our flight attendants to fly the new jets,” said Tami. “We flew a team from the Flight Service department to the Embraer headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil , and there we were trained on how it all worked. From chime systems to door operations, it was a huge learning experience.”
Flying with Jets
On May 15, 1998, the very first E145 revenue flight departed Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) for a turn at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), and Tami was onboard. Family, friends and aviation enthusiasts alike gathered at ORD’s balloon-filled G Concourse to watch the plane receive a water canon salute during its outbound taxi. One customer even purchased roundtrip tickets to fly to CLE and back, just so that he could experience our first E145 flight!
Tami worked flights on the Embraer 145 from the very beginning of its American Eagle debut until 2016 when the Embraer 175 came along, pausing along the way to celebrate the birth of her third child in 1999.
“The hours that I spent on the 145 are too many to count,” said Tami. “I’ve carried crying babies up and down the aisle, comforted grieving families, and seen newlyweds off to their honeymoon destinations. My favorite memories are mostly of the people I encountered and the places it took us.”
A fond farewell to the E145
On May 31, 2023, just over 25 years after that first revenue flight, Envoy reached another milestone – the retirement of the E145 aircraft as we look forward to operating a single Large RJ (E170/175) fleet. Of course, this day was just as monumental as the first, and Tami made sure she was there for it.
“When I heard about its retirement from Envoy, I asked if I could fly the final flight,” said Tami. “Going full circle felt special. My last takeoff was exciting. I choked up as I knew it was my last one.”
Before takeoff, Tami took the time to tell the passengers a bit of the E145’s history and let them know how special they were to be the last group of passengers to ride on that aircraft. And like the very first flight, an Executive Platinum customer purchased roundtrip tickets just so he could be on that final flight.
After the turn in Central Wisconsin (CWA) and back at ORD, the flight received a water cannon salute and a crowd of cheering Envoy and American Airlines employees as they made their final taxi into the gate.
“The sun was shining and it was a great day for this little aircraft,” said Tami. “I was proud that I got to fly her for the first and last time at Envoy.”
“So many skies with the E145”
The E145 holds a very special place in Envoy’s history – it has served us well over the last 25 years and will continue to be a big part of the American Airlines Group family. While the aircraft will live on at another AAG wholly-owned subsidiary carrier, for now, it’s a fond farewell from Envoy to an important part of our fleet.
“It takes a village to run an airline, and we did it with that aircraft,” said Tami. “In my 35-year career, I have had the greatest pleasure to be a part of this aircraft’s history, and I was lucky to have seen so many skies with the E145. She made us bigger and better, and for that I am grateful.”
Thank you to Tami for sharing your story, the thousands of employees and customers who supported our E145 fleet over the years, and to Embraer for our ongoing and successful partnership.