Family affair in the air: Southwest pilot, son recreate cockpit photo 29 years later

This is one father-son combination that deserved to fly first class.

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Ruben Flowers, a pilot for Southwest Airlines, had posed with his young son in the cockpit of his plane in 1994. Twenty-nine years later, Flowers’ son -- also named Ruben Flowers -- recreated that shot in the cockpit of an aircraft as his father prepared to captain his final flight after 31 years of service.

The younger Flowers said he was looking through photograph albums at his grandmother’s home when he saw a snapshot from 1994, CNN reported. The elder Flowers is smiling in the pilot’s seat while his son, a toddler at the time, gazes on in admiration.

“Ruben rode in the car to drop me off at the airport for trips growing up,” the elder Flowers said in a Southwest Airlines news release. “He’d always tell me, ‘Don’t push the wrong button,’ as our inside joke.

“Ruben tagged along with me to the training center in Dallas growing up to learn more about our operation, experience the simulators, and spend time at the airport, which felt like a second home to him. He flew in simulators with me before he even had a driver’s license.”

The younger Flowers followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a pilot for Southwest.

When Flowers Sr. prepared to pilot his final flight from Omaha, Nebraska, to Chicago’s Midway Airport in March, his son was next to him again -- this time, as his first officer. Southwest officials said.

There are seven pilots in the family, including the father and son team. The elder Flowers’ brother, Southwest Capt. Chris Sailor, and cousin, Southwest First Officer Chuck Jones, were also on that final flight.

“To look over and see your loved ones sitting right next to you is a great feeling,” the elder Flowers said in a statement. “It feels like my son was 5 years old and running around days ago, and now he’s reading me the flight checklist!”

“It was a dream of mine to make it to this point to fly with my dad, it was probably my number one aviation goal,” the younger Flowers told CNN.

For that final flight, the father-son duo recreated the 1994 photo, according to the cable news outlet.

“It was just great to be able to recreate that moment,” the younger Flowers told CNN. “It was a dream come true moment.”

“Family is an important part of our culture of caring at Southwest Airlines, and we enjoy seeing family members share a love for aviation on the job together,” the airline said in a statement.

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