Inspired by his father’s legacy at Florida Tech, Brandon followed in his footsteps
Originally from Barbados, Dennis Bourne knew at an early age that he wanted to fly. Growing up, he was inspired by the story of a family friend who went to the United States to become a pilot.
Brevard County • Melbourne, Florida – In September 2022, Dennis Bourne ’79 AS, ’81 and Brandon Bourne ’13 will make history as the first black father and son to fly together on American Airlines.
It was an unlikely pairing. They live in different parts of the country – Brandon in North Carolina, Denise in Philadelphia – and while they initially flew the same aircraft, the Airbus 321, Brandon received a captain’s bid and will soon switch to a Boeing 737.
But Dennis Brandon, who has been with the company for more than 30 years, managed to pull some strings to put the two on the same plane before making the switch.
Dennis Bourne ’79 AS, ’81 and Brandon Bourne ’13 made history as the first black father and son to fly together on American Airlines.
“A few days later, I called Brandon and said, ‘Do you want to fly with your old man?’ We had a great time there. We kept laughing and looking at each other during the flight.”
With them on the historic flight were Dennis’ wife and Brandon’s mother, Crystal; Brandon’s wife, Yasmin Youssef ’13; and the role of Brandon and Jasmine’s daughter.
“Somehow, even though I have 34 years to go, I know I have a great place in my career,” says Brandon.
Originally from Barbados, Dennis knew at an early age that he wanted to fly. Growing up, he was inspired by the story of a family friend who went to the United States to become a pilot.
“Flying is part of me,” says Dennis.
Inspired by his father’s legacy at Florida Tech, Brandon followed in his footsteps. He remembers reading his father’s old training books and being inspired by what he saw on the pages.
“I never wavered after that,” Brandon said. “I knew I wanted to do it.”
Dennis may be close to retirement, but he hasn’t slowed down.
“Every day, I pinch myself because I’m getting paid to do what I love; Touring the world,” he says.
When not flying his regular routes to Aruba, Dennis is teaching professionalism and leadership classes for American Airlines.
Meanwhile, Brandon’s career is just beginning.
“Walking through the terminals, I saw homesick people crying on the phone, passengers rushing to catch their flights and girls going on vacation,” says Brandon.
“I know my job is helping them do what they need to do or what they want to do. I’m getting them where they want to be, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction in my position.”
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