United seeks to build its own diverse pipeline of pilots (apnews.com) I'm thinking back to July, 1979 and my first day in training at United's Stapleton Training Center. There were twelve of us in the new-hire class that Monday morning. Every Monday for the foreseeable future was booked solid with winners of the extensive computer-driven hiring contest. We had taken every kind of test imaginable, flown a DC-10 simulator and passed two flight physicals over a three-day evaluation. Getting invited just to participate in that contest was another victory in and of its own. As we introduced ourselves around the conference table I was struck by the diversity of experience and background each of us brought to the bottom of United's seniority list. I remember a Chief Pilot or maybe he was an assistant Chief Pilot from AT&T (heavy iron kind of pilot) based in White Plains, a NASA test pilot, an ex-military pilot or two or three and an ex-American Airlines Flight Attendant, a man, who decided to trade his career pushing a heavy liquor cart up and down the aisle for sitting at the controls up front. He had learned to fly and built his experience in the civilian ranks flying light airplanes much like myself. It made me proud to be included with these guys. United has now changed their idea of diversity from "experience" to gender and skin color. Instead of hiring pilots that exceed their minimum standards of knowledge, skill and experience by the widest margin possible, whatever their color or gender, they inevitably will hire less qualified pilots—pilots they have inbred by themselves through ab initio training. I also remember killing time in Key West intently listening to the war stories of a retired Navy blimp captain who had bought a seaplane and flew excursions to the Dry Tortugas. I wondered if he felt cheated by having to fly a blimp and not fighter jets. He thought it over and said maybe at first, but after all these years he wouldn't have it any differently. He told me the one thing that matters the most is total time off the ground. It doesn't matter what it's in. Skimping on total time and diluting the amalgam of experience on United's flight decks, to me, seems like a really bad idea.