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Love is in the Air

February 9, 2016

Many couples celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers and chocolates. FedEx pilots Mark and Teri Eidson have a slightly different tradition: they prefer to sleep.

“Flying coupled with raising a family is exhausting,” Teri said. “But it’s all worth it.”

Mark and Teri have been married for 31 years and have three children (Nicole, 27; Natalie, 22; Jake, 20). Their love story runs much deeper than a day designated for romance. It spans the globe and has a rich FedEx connection.

Takeoff

Teri grew up near the airport in Perth, Western Australia. As a little girl, she recounts standing in her front yard and watching giant shadows glide across the ground as approaching aircraft prepared for landing. She didn’t have any family connections to flying, but it was the curiosity of a child that spurned on her desire to learn more about the objects passing overhead.

There was a slight problem, however. It was the 1960s, and women didn’t have the same opportunities they have today.

“I wanted to be a pilot, but I was told I could be a flight attendant,” Teri recalled. “As I got older, I told myself I was going to be a pilot.”

Teri’s family moved to the United States in 1970 and eventually settled in Colorado. Although her parents could not afford college tuition, Teri was determined to fly planes. She took a full-time job and enrolled at Metropolitan State University in Denver, one of a few schools which offered an aviation degree.

In her second semester, she signed up for a senior-level class that was more than she could chew and soon considered dropping the course. Her professor recommended a tutor instead.

The tutor’s name was Mark.

“She couldn’t’ take her eyes off me,” Mark laughed.

Mark and Teri went on their first date shortly thereafter and never looked back.

Cruising Altitude

Mark first came to Memphis in 1984 to take a job flying private planes for clients such as Jerry Lee Lewis. While in Memphis, he took notice of an emerging company that would become the world’s largest full-service, air-cargo airline with its acquisition of the Flying Tigers network. Mark set his sights on Federal Express and landed a job flying for its corporate department in 1989.

It wasn’t long before the purple bug bit Teri. She joined Federal Express in 1991 as a hub handler and recalls driving a tug one night when she realized something special.

“I jumped off and, at that moment, I knew we were expecting our third child,” Teri said.

Teri continued to work at the World Hub for four years until a position opened up on the flight line in 1995.

Mark and Teri had both secured their dream jobs and were doing what they loved. It gave them the opportunity to move back to their hometown of Denver with the kids.

But there were other challenges ahead.

Managing unpredictable flight schedules and taking care of three children wasn’t easy. Teri would bid for the Denver route so she could spend more time at home.

“I’d put the kids to bed, fly out and be back in the morning for breakfast,” she said. “I’d get them off to school, and I would sleep all day.”

Not to mention Mark and Teri often had opposite schedules. They had to get creative to make time for each other.

“There were some things we missed,” Mark said. “We had a nanny to take care of the kids if we both had to be gone at the same time. But there were things we were able to do during the day when we were home that people with nine-to-five jobs couldn’t make. We learned to roll with the punches.”

That they did. On one occasion, Mark and Teri bid for opposite Milan routes. They brought the kids along and spent a month in Italy.

There were also times when Teri could jump seat with Mark if she was off and he was flying. It was their version of a dinner date. They travelled to places like Honolulu, Sydney and Cologne.

Meanwhile, others around Mark and Teri noticed their passion for FedEx and the opportunities it had afforded them. After their kids were grown, their nanny returned from Germany and took a job at the FedEx ramp in Denver. She became a team leader and was later promoted to ramp manager in Tulsa where she works to this day.

Mark and Teri’s oldest daughter, Nicole, serves in the Air Force and has plans to be an Air National Guard pilot. After graduating college, she worked as a FedEx courier in Denver.

Landing

Taking care of the kids and sleeping in have trumped Valentine’s Day celebrations for the last 25 years. This year, with the kids grown and out of the house, Valentine’s Day for Mark and Teri will be a little bit different.

The Eidsons still don’t know if they’ll partake in flowers and chocolates, but they do have plans for a romantic dinner and a bottle of wine.

“This is one of the first years we can have a real date,” Teri said. “We feel like kids again.”


Comments

    Steve McCabe says:

    What a great recap to a genuine couple with true family visions while raising 3 kids in a world that is challenging enough. Enjoy your Valentine”s Day together, you sure deserve it. All the best to an inspiring couple

    Joe Bryant says:

    Hi, Mark–Hope you and Teri had a great Valentine’s Day. I was aware of a lot of the story from all the trips we’ve flown together, but not everything. My hat’s off to the both of you–great admiration for the amazing way you have balanced careers, marriage and family. God bless!

    Wanda Henley says:

    Two of my most favorite jumpseaters in the world. You both have my admiration not only for your perserverance in obtaining your job goals, but also for making your marriage a priority in a world that seems to care less and less about committments to one another. Best wishes to both of you in the years to come.

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