ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees had a familiar face flying their plane to Tampa.
Clarke Schmidt’s dad, Dwight, a Delta pilot of nearly 30 years, was in the cockpit Thursday to pilot the Yankees’ team charter from Newark Airport.
“I mentioned it to a few guys [before the flight] and then when we got there, it kind of spread like wildfire,” Schmidt said Friday at Tropicana Field. “It was fun. It was kind of interactive a little bit.
“I think a lot of guys got to see things they never got to see as far as going up to the cockpit and stuff like that.”
Dwight has piloted the Yankees’ team charter before, including for their “Field of Dreams” game in Iowa in 2021.
But Schmidt had been optioned to Triple-A shortly before that trip, which made Thursday’s flight more special for the right-hander.
“Honestly, it was really smooth,” Schmidt said. “Everyone was hypercritical of the landing. I think he mentioned we had some crosswinds when we landed, but for the most part, it was smooth sailing.”
Schmidt said that Delta had reached out to Dwight to see if he wanted to fly the plane, which he accepted, giving him an opportunity to see his son start Saturday’s game against the Rays.
Manager Aaron Boone, who went on a flight simulator with Dwight last week when the team was in Atlanta, also enjoyed the experience.
“It’s always cool,” Boone said. “I think the guys get a real kick out of it. … He’s an engaging, really good dude.”
An added bonus of knowing the captain?
Giving the Yankees an opportunity to make some progress on Wandy Peralta’s fear of flying, as the reliever got to see the cockpit before they took off.
“We felt like we chipped away a little bit,” Schmidt said with a laugh. “I think there was less rocking than I normally see from him at his seat. So I think he was a little more calm. Some of the guys were saying it was good to have my dad flying the flight because he had a little more invested in the plane so they felt a little safer out there.
“Hopefully we took some steps forward with Wandy.”