Love is in the air as married Delta Air Lines pilots command their first flights together


Brent and Kelly Knoblauch met when Kelly accepted an internship at Delta Air Lines in 2010. She said Brent was the first person she got to know at the company, and they've been more or less inseparable ever since.

"Every weekend we'd go travel," she said. "It was crazy, it was a really fun, exciting time."

Brent said that the two have grown their careers together since they married 10 years ago, and recently got to fly together professionally for the first time.

"Our careers have really stepped together," he said. "Last month was the first time we were able to sit in the same flight deck together."

A modern love story

The Knoblauchs said a lot of pieces had to fall into place for them to fly together last month. 

"It felt like a long time coming. The stars had to align. For the longest time, we were both in the right seat," Kelly said, referring to the flight deck position where pilots with the rank of first officer typically sit. "Then Brent went to the left seat," meaning he earned the rank of captain, "and I went to the training department." 

While Kelly has been flying Boeing 737s since she joined Delta, Brent moved around between fleets and only recently got assigned to the 737. 

"Kelly was able to teach me everything I had to learn," he said.

Their first trip together in January took them from their home base in Atlanta to Panama City, Panama, back to Atlanta, and then on to Bradley airport outside of Hartford, Connecticut, and back home to Atlanta. Brent said that the final flight wound up having to divert to Charleston, "not for marital issues, just for more gas."

“Kelly's a great pilot. ... She flew the plane, and she took us to Charleston," he added. "It was an exercise in crew resource management." 

The Knoblauchs said they alternated who was the pilot in charge on the legs of their trip, a common practice among two-person crews on multileg journeys at most airlines. 

The Knoblauchs' advice for other working couples

Brent and Kelly said it can be hard to juggle a home life and career that takes them both away so often, but they've found a way to make it work.

Communication, both at home and on the job, is key, Kelly said, as well as "being able to snap into your role."

"Be who you are around anyone else. ... It was like flying with any other captain," she said of their first flight together. 

Brent said it's also good to recognize differences in your partner and be ready to let them take the lead.

"We agreed in thinking about some of this Valentine's Day topic, it's always a balance," he said. "Embrace that balance, and when the time comes, be spontaneous."

Kelly also took a moment to address a question that she said she's surprised to still get on almost every flight in 2023:

"A girl can be a pilot, and you can be a mom too. You can do both things," she said. "It works, and it’s a lot of fun."

Travel advise from the pilots

The Knoblauchs said they try to pack as little as possible – almost always just a carry-on – for every trip, and that one of their must-have items is a small backpack that can be folded up in their other luggage.

Some of their other top tips include:

  • Be spontaneous.
  • Always pack snacks.
  • Remember: Whatever you pack, you have to carry.
  • Get off the beaten path.
  • A single-use camera per trip can help you slow down and appreciate those Kodak moments.

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