By Erin Alvarado
In September 2022, Dennis Bourne ’79 A.S., ’81, and Brandon Bourne ’13 made history as the first Black father-son duo to fly together with American Airlines.
It was an unlikely pairing. They live in different parts of the country—Brandon is based in North Carolina, Dennis in Philadelphia—and while they originally flew the same aircraft, Airbus 321, Brandon had received a captain’s bid and would soon change to a Boeing 737.
But having served over 30 years with the company, Dennis was able to pull some strings to place the two on the same aircraft before Brandon made the switch.
“I called up Brandon a few days later and asked, ‘You want to fly with your old man?’ We had so much fun up there. We kept looking at each other during the flight and laughing.”
Along with them on the historic flight was Dennis’ wife and Brandon’s mother, Crystal; Brandon’s wife, Yasmine Yousef ’13; and Brandon and Yasmine’s daughter, Mina.
“Somehow, even though I still have 34 years left to go, I already know that I’ve had the pinnacle moment of my career,” Brandon says.
Originally from Barbados, Dennis knew at an early age that he wanted to fly. Growing up, he was inspired by stories from a family friend who had moved to the United States to become a pilot.
“Flying is just something that’s a part of me,” Dennis says.
Inspired by his father’s legacy at Florida Tech, Brandon followed in his footsteps. He remembers reading his dad’s old training books and being inspired by what he saw on the pages.
“I never wavered after that,” Brandon says. “I just knew I wanted to do it.”
Dennis may be close to retirement, but it has not slowed him down.
“Every day, I pinch myself because I’m getting paid to do what I love: travel the world,” he says.
When he isn’t flying his normal routes to Aruba, Dennis is teaching professionalism and leadership classes for American Airlines.
Meanwhile, Brandon’s career is just getting started.
“As I’m walking through the terminals, I see excited families together about to go on vacations, homesick people crying on the phone, passengers running by trying to catch their flight, and girls’ trips in their matching outfits,” Brandon says. “I know that my job is helping them do something that they need to do or want to do. I’m getting them somewhere that they want to be, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction in my position.”
Dennis: Air Commerce/Flight Technology, A.S., B.S.
Brandon: Aviation Management – Flight, B.S.
Dennis: Grantley Adams International Airport (Barbados, hometown)
Brandon: Miami International Airport (loves the water)
Dennis: Aircraft mechanic
Brandon: Real estate
Dennis: “Top Gun: Maverick”
Brandon: “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”
Favorite Florida Tech Memory:
Dennis: All four years were the best of my life, so it’s hard to choose, but I did love studying and spending time with friends in “The Jungle” (Patterson Botanical Garden).
Brandon: Flying to Turks and Caicos in a Seminole with my professor and my roommate. We had dinner on the beach and were able to see wild horses running past.