Married Delta pilots retire early after decades of service

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(CNN) – They have flown around the globe and seen the world side by side from the best seat in the house – the cockpit of a Delta A330.Meet Joe and Margrit Fahan, married and recently retired Delta pilots who share their travels on their popular Instagram account, @flyingfahans.

After completing their last Delta flight on August 13, the couple spoke to CNN Travel.

Captain Joe Fahan has been a pilot for over 36 years. Commercial airline pilots are due to retire at 65 and Fahan was just over a year from retirement when Covid-19 hit. Air transport has essentially stopped, creating a major crisis for the industry.

“All airlines [were] losing an incredible amount of money, they had to start cutting back. They offered early retirement, and that made sense to us. So we decided to jump on it, ”said Joe Fahan.

Joe and Margrit Fahan bid farewell from the cockpit of a Delta A330

Courtesy of Joe Fahan

First Officer Margrit Fahan, wife and co-pilot of Joe, has been flying for 35 years. For the past six years, she has shared the cockpit with her husband, Joe, and has since witnessed the devastating effects of the coronavirus on her industry. “I think the airlines have fallen back to 5% capacity, 5% of their operations,” Margrit said.

Margrit still had a few years of flying ahead of her and wasn’t ready to retire – but she did.

“With Joe, that made a lot of sense,” Margrit said, “but I have five years left that I could fly. It was a difficult decision. Someday I would feel like, yes, it’s the right thing to do. The next day, it made me really sad to think that it could be that. ”

All in the family

For Joe, in particular, it’s a very bittersweet transition to retirement.

“It’s more than a job. It is a lifestyle. That’s what we’ve been doing most of our lives, and it’s definitely a different way of living. This kind of life becomes your life, so when you are looking to give it up, especially early on, and you haven’t had time to mentally prepare yourself, it’s hard. I said it was like wasting your last year of high school. ”

Margrit and Joe Fahan – co-pilots in life

Courtesy of Joe Fahan

The Fahans have two adult sons who are both pilots, Peter Fahan is deployed to Bahrain with the US Navy, while Billy Fahan is a commercial pilot recently on leave for a regional airline.

For those of you doing the math, that’s four “Flying Fahans”. And as Joe said, “they were doomed from the start”.

“Yeah, they were. We tried to show them other things, ”said Margrit.

Unlikely Instagram influencers

The Instagram account was kind of a fluke. The Fahans were in Greece when they ran into an old friend from Joe’s time as a pilot with now defunct Allegheny Commuter Airlines.

The Fyling Fahans are Instagram influencers #AVgeek

The Fyling Fahans are Instagram influencers #AVgeek

Courtesy of Joe Fahan

“I haven’t seen this character for 35 or 40 years. We didn’t even recognize each other. We ended up meeting, and it was awesome. I said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to keep in touch. Facebook?’ He says, “No, I’m on Instagram”. I said, “Instagram? What is that? “”

Several years and 15,000 followers later, the adventures documented on @flyingfahans tell a story of partnership, a deep love of aviation, a passion for other air travel professionals – from rides to the tarmac. The Fahan love to interact with their followers, whether it’s to answer questions or say hello when they meet them in person. Many followers have since become their friends.

“It’s pretty cool how you can make so many connections through Instagram,” said Margrit. You meet people from all over the world, from all different fields, especially aviation. They tend to stick together. It’s a bit like a little addiction, people who like planes, fly, travel. They all stick together. ”

Due to the success of @flyingfahans, the two have enjoyed some sort of fame within the aviation and travel community.

Newly retired Delta pilots Joe and Margrit Fahan

Newly retired Delta pilots Joe and Margrit Fahan

Courtesy of Joe Fahan

“People come to us at airports. It’s both flattering and embarrassing, but it’s a lot of fun. Joe said. “I always say it’s because of her, because I’m just another typical rider. But when she’s with me, it becomes something a bit unique. “

After raising two children, spending years apart, parenting as a team until their sons left for college, the Fahans really enjoyed the time they spent flying together – captain and co-pilot – eating their meals. meals on transcontinental routes on the A330 flight deck. Airplane food isn’t their favorite either.

Both agree that the A330 was their favorite aircraft. “We have flown other planes, but we’ve been on this plane for 17 years. I never got bored, ”Joe said.

« [The Airbus] is totally made for a pilot, ”said Margrit. »It is comfortable in the cockpit. It’s quiet. It just has all the little creature comforts you really love to have. ”

And after?

Now that they’re retired, the Fahan definitely want to continue flying, one way or another. In fact, a week after their last flight, Joe joined one of his Instagram brothers, Julian Javor (@pilotjulian), the founder of Pet Rescue Pilots, a non-profit organization whose mission is to move animals from shelters to places with a better probability of adoption.

Javor connected with The Fahans through the social media platform, met in person, and became friends.

Margrit flew a rescue mission with Jover earlier this year from Los Angeles to Calgary. “Canada has better sterilization and sterilization regulations, so they don’t have a lot of adoptable pets,” Margrit explained. “So he flies them from California to Canada where they’re all adopted. “

In his usual form, Joe Fahan took to Instagram to record the rescue mission – and Javor greeted the Fahans (Margrit arrived separately) at his mother’s home in Los Angeles.

Fahan’s fans and friends

” They are great. They are great. And now it’s got to the point where it’s like, you know, they know my mom and her circle of friends, and it all started with this little app. “

When asked about the Fahan’s early retirement, Javor had this to say: “When they told me this was going to happen, I was very shocked. “

In total, Javor and Fahan have moved around 18 puppies from Baghdad on multiple flights, from JFK. “Watching this plane land, knowing it was coming from Iraq, we were all on the tarmac at 2:45 am to unload this plane. It was amazing. “

CNN Travel has contacted Delta to comment on the Fahan’s retirement: “It is a wonderful privilege for Delta to have been a part of the history of Captain Joe Fahan and First Officer Margrit Fahan. Their passion for aviation and dedicated service to our customers was evident throughout their combined 71 years of flying, and we are excited to see where this next retirement adventure takes them. ”

No matter where they go next, one thing is for sure, the Fahans don’t hang up their wings.

“We don’t mind a little break,” Joe said. “But let’s say we’re open to opportunities. ”

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