Mike Gerdes & Glenna Calame

Instructional Design Professionals and Pilot Training

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Mike Gerdes, Manager AQP/ISD, Flight Operations, Southwest Airlines

Mike joined Southwest Airlines in 2012 as a line pilot and accepted roles in the training and AQP organizations in Flight Operations. Previously, he was the B737 Fleet Lead for Boeing Training Services – Korea, Vice President of Flt Operations at ABX Air, Inc. and also Vice President of Flt Operations at ATA Airlines. With type ratings on the B737, B757 and B727, Mike has served at various airlines in Fleet Standards, as Chief Pilot, Check Airman, and Simulator Instructor/Evaluator and continues to hold a CFI-AIME. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Marilee and their dog Kirby.


Glenna Calame, Curriculum Design Lead, Flight Operations, Southwest Airlines

Glenna Calame joined the Southwest family in 2015. She is the Curriculum Design Lead for Flight Operations. She and the Curriculum Design Team work with the AQP team, Check Airmen, Instructors, and Project Pilots to develop pilot curriculum goals, objectives, and learning experiences. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines, she consulted with a variety of industries to analyze, design, develop, and deploy performance improvement strategies that were aligned to their organizational goals. Glenna holds a BFA in Radio, Television, and Film and a MA in Training and Learning Technologies.


Pilot Training and ISD Professionals – Transitioning to Professional Training Design and Development: Our Experience at Southwest Airlines

For many years, pilots designed and developed pilot training. While that served airlines well for many years, the benefits of using dedicated professional ISD experts elevates that training to the 21st century. Pilots still play a critical role in designing the training, but the role has transitioned to a Subject Matter Expert (SME) rather than a developer. 

In this session, we’ll share our experiences at Southwest Airlines Flt Ops Training department as we moved into the ISD design and development of our pilot training. We’ll look at the benefits we’ve seen and some of the challenges we faced as we made that very successful change. It wasn’t always easy, but the results are clear – pilots report the training is enjoyable, more engaging and prepares them better for line operations.