Mark Estabrook is the editor of jetPilots.com. He registered the domain name while publishing "AirlinePilots.com," which he sold in the early 2000s. He took his first flying lesson from his dad at the age of 11. He started working on his private pilot's license when he was a senior in high school. He began skydiving at the same time, and took a break from flying and jumping while he attended the University of Texas at Austin as a film student and received his Bachelor of Science in Radio-TV-Film in 1978. He also covered the local music scene in Austin as a photojournalist during the 1970s for several newspapers. During his senior year of college, he had to choose between shooting a documentary about Stevie Ray Vaughan or flying lessons. He chose the latter and the rest is history.
He became a pilot in the U.S. Air Force with service in the Persian Gulf and North Atlantic while serving as an E-3A AWACS Aircraft Commander. While serving in the Air Force, he earned a Master of Public Administration degree with an emphasis in policy analysis in 1988 from the University of Oklahoma.
Mark is a retired 29-year FedEx pilot and early in his career spent a great deal of time organizing the pilots while promoting safety and security. He edited and co-founded The StickShaker with Wayne Koide in 1990, which was the first newsletter for FedEx pilots.
In 1992, Estabrook and fellow Federal Express pilot Gary Lovan co-founded the independent United States Pilots Association (USPA) to run as a write-in alternative to the national Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in a union representation election for Federal Express pilots. The 1993 election resulted in USPA bringing 11.9% of the votes to break the 50% + 1 threshold with a combined 56% of the pilots voting for union representation, thereby securing the first Federal Express pilot union on the property. Federal Express challenged the NMB certified election results, arguing that ALPA received 44.1% (less than a 50% majority). Their appeals were unsuccessful. Previous to the election, Federal Express was changing the pilots' Flight Crewmember's Handbook on a frequent basis through an "advisory" mechanism called the Flight Advisory Board, which negatively impacted pilot pay, work rules, retirement and seniority rights. Prior to USPA's write-in campaign, ALPA had failed two previous union organizing campaigns at Federal Express without garnering the needed 50% + 1 for NMB certification.
In May of 1996 Estabrook filed, with total financing provided by the Independent Pilots Association at UPS, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in federal court against NASA forcing release of a sleep study conducted on FedEx pilots. Not only did he prevail but his actions contributed toward the cancellation of an FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) change which would have permitted 26-hour duty days for pilots.
The first rough draft of his September 11, 2001 editorial entitled "Arm our pilots now: air piracy is not going away" was published on AirlinePilots.com before the second airplane struck WTC2. His editorial and subsequent interviews were disseminated around the world in print, on radio and television which helped launch the change in federal law that made the carriage of guns by pilots in the cockpit possible. Mark was selected in the weeks after 9-11 to become Chairman of his union's Security Committee, and immediately served on a White House emergency committee headed by Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta in an effort to sort out security issues and help U.S. grounded airlines return to service. He initiated several of FedEx's post 9-11 security improvements during this time, such as the inflight ACARS emergency recall procedures.
In 2013, he filed an AIR21 Whistleblower lawsuit against FedEx with respect to its voluntary publishing of package and aircraft tracking data on the internet. Estabrook warned the FAA Administrator and FedEx executives in 2001-2002 that terrorists would exploit the data to more precisely time the detonation of bombs. His predictions came true in 2010 with the interception of "printer bombs" on both UPS and FedEx aircraft. Estabrook alleges company retaliation against him for bringing security violations to FedEx management in 2013. The case is on appeal at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mark is a retired FedEx pilot with two children. Today he concentrates on writing, his street photography and shooting documentaries. He was injured in and smuggled out of Kiev in February 2014 while covering the Ukrainian revolution as a photojournalist. Mark is an 8th generational descendent of George Rookstool, a Private 2nd Class of Captain Andrew Cammel's 1st Company of the First Battalion of the Philadelphia County Militia in the American colonies' Revolutionary War against England. He is available as a media consultant regarding aviation whistleblower and labor topics.