Thirty years of high-flying adventure

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Contributed by Jacob Garvin

Eighty-nine cents.

That’s how much Captain Tim Garvin’s first flight cost at the Muscatine airport. The year was 1965, and the flying club had a promotional event entitled “a penny per pound.” Tim was all of 10 years old when his father,”Lefty,” took him to the airport on that fateful day.

Fast-forward over 50 years to April 10, as the Muscatine native just eclipsed 30 years of flying for Delta Airlines. “Thirty years at Delta and still only 27years old. I never did learn new math!” quips the seasoned airline pilot.

Captain Garvin is the youngest of three sons and a 1973 graduate from Muscatine High School.After a year of digging Muscatine sewer trenches, he decided it was time for a career change. “It stunk, and I wasn’t very good at it.”

Garvin’s road to the airlines was not direct, as he initially launched his flying career with the Air Force. The 1980 Iowa State graduate commissioned into the military the same day he received his diploma. After a year of pilot training, he was transferred to McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington. It was there he met his wife, Susan, who currently serves as a preschool teacher at Bishop Hayes.

Susan and Tim have three children, Jacob, John, and Jessica, and it has not always been easy to balance the nights away from home with family milestones. “I tried to stay senior on my planes so I could be there for family events,” Garvin says. “Most, but not all.”

Captain Tim Garvin celebrating the inaugural Delta Airbus flight from Moline to Atlanta in 2013 with his proud mother Jeanne. Jeanne passed away in June of 2016.

It was 30 years of mastering dials, switches, and levers, preoccupied with learning the McDonnell Douglas 9, Boeing 727, McDonnell Douglas 88, Airbus, and, most recently, the Boeing 757/67. “I’ve always told my kids I hope they get to have a job that is as enjoyable for them as mine is for me,” Garvin says. “Hard to believe my time at Delta Air Lines is quickly winding down.”

Delta has experienced extensive changes over the Captain’s career. In 1988, Delta employed 55,000 people with a fleet of 384 planes spanning12 countries. To date, Delta employs 80,000 with a fleet of 856 planes servicing 125 countries. Along with the rest of the industry, Delta plummeted and was forced to work through bankruptcy after 9/11. Salaries were cut, benefits were lost, and many good people severed ties and left the industry for good. Delta has endured the difficult times and is now once again one of the largest airliners in the world.

Whether in the daytime or the middle of the night, all over the world, Tim

Garvin has been doing what he loves for an astonishing length of time, grounded by an insatiable appetite for flying and customer service. “We love to fly and it shows” was the 1987 Delta slogan. It still shows for this Captain 30 years later.