Shattered Dream: A Single-Parent Airline Pilot's Story
By Brian Howard Settles

About the Author...

Thirteen years later, struggling as a single parent Dad with two sons, the would-be airline pilot was once again forced from his glamorous airline pilot career in March of 1989 when a union strike and subsequent bankruptcy shut down Eastern Air Lines permanently. Perhaps as a lark, but more so intent on keeping the For Sale sign out of the yard of his Atlanta home, with his older son a freshman at Florida A & M University and a thirteen year old at home, the tenacious Settles endured a two year cab driving adventure on the streets of metro Atlanta until fall of 1992 when he was hired by Private Jet Expeditions, an Atlanta charter jet airline. Unstoppable in his drive to dominate his adversities and restore himself in his aviation career, Captain settles advanced to Captain on the McDonald Douglas 82 passenger jet in six months.  Two years later, career storm clouds returned and Captain Settles suffered his second airline bankruptcy collapse. Once again, seeking solvency in his taxi-cab, he drove part time until he secured re-employment in 1995 with Indianapolis based ATA Airlines. 

In the deja vu of three airline starts, the indomitable adopted orphan from Nebraska worked his way up at ATA from Boeing 727 and 757 co-pilot to Boeing 757 Captain in five years. At the top of his aviation game, Captain Settles enjoyed four years at the pinnacle of his career before the recently amended Pilot Age 60 Rule forced him to retire in 2004.

During his tumultuous and elusive airline pilot career, Captain Settles maintained his love for family and literature.  An avid reader, "Captain Bee", as he is known in aviation circles, enjoys writing essays and poetry. Having cultivated a love for nature as a youth growing up in Muncie, his favorite pass times have been camping, fishing and teasing his grandchildren. 

Among his proudest accomplishments are serving as Board of Education president in Highland Park, New Jersey, completing an epic saga on his greatest life adventure as a combat pilot in Vietnam and serving two years as Chair and Assistant Professor of Airway Science at Delaware State University.  He is a retired airline pilot member of the Air Line Pilots Association, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, the Tuskegee Airmen International, Retired Eastern Airline Pilots and the Organization of Black Airline Pilots.  Currently, serving as an adjunct professor at Mercer University, he resides in the woods of south Georgia with his wife Ann, still enjoying fishing, writing and an inspired relationship with his church family seeking God’s Purpose for his life.

Retired airline Captain Brian Howard Settles spent the first two years of his life in a Lincoln, Nebraska orphanage.  After the adoption papers were signed by Howard and Bernice Settles, he traveled by train to Muncie, Indiana where
(like newly elected President Barak Obama) as a light skinned bi-racial youth he began his journey for acceptance in the segregated neighborhoods of Muncie.  Intent on greater social acceptance, young Brian Settles sought excellence in basketball and football and briefly enjoyed a standout prep career until back to back knee injuries shattered his hoop dreams.

Captain Settles embarked on his aviation career by accident, registering late (at the behest of his mother, Bernice) for Ball State University after his basketball scholarship to the University of Colorado fell through at the last minute. Ironically, he was talked into signing up for the drill team which meant enrolling in the Air Force ROTC program.  

While at Ball State, Captain Settles majored in Secondary Education with a concentration in Spanish and English and was enticed to enrolling in the ROTC Flight Instruction program. Proving he could walk and chew gum at the same time, upon graduation and commissioning in August 1966, entered into U. S Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas. 

Being a sports jock at heart, Captain Settles was captivated by the machismo of being a fighter pilot and chose the only fighter jet option available to him and most of his pilot training class mates, an assignment to fly as co-pilot in the F-4 Phantom jet fighter bomber, a move which got him shipped off to Vietnam for a one year combat tour at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam in August 1968.  Captain Settles survived one hundred ninety-nine combat missions flying the F-4 in Vietnam, completing  his Air Force obligation as a KC- 135 refueling tanker pilot at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California and concurrently earning his Master's degree in International Relations at the University of Southern California. Captain Settles reluctantly turned down a highly coveted selection to the U.S. Air Force Academy Political Science faculty to accept employment in the fall of 1972 as an airline pilot with now defunct Eastern Airlines. 

The Arab Oil Embargo of the early seventies temporarily cost Captain Settles his lofty pilot job at Eastern. With a wife and a three year old son, he served for two years in a counseling position with Rutgers University College where he was promoted to Supervisor of Counseling and appointed Assistant Dean until his recall to Eastern in August of 1976.