Captain Barksdale was born in Denver, Colorado and grew up in an aviation family. His father, Jim, flew fighters in World War II then became an airline pilot and married a stewardess, Mike’s mother, Rita. His grandfather flew in WW I in France so Mike is a third-generation pilot. He started flying almost 50 years ago and now has more than 37,000 hours in a variety of airplanes. He was hired by Continental Airlines in 1979.
During his time with Continental Mike flew the B-727, DC-9, MD-80, DC-10, B-757, B-767, B-777 and B-787, operating as a Line Check Airman on most. He became an FAA designated Initial Cadre for the then new B-787, Dreamliner. As the first Lead Line Check Airman, he set up the initial airborne training for the new aircraft working closely with the FAA and Boeing. In 2013, Captain Barksdale was named “Captain of the Year” for United Airlines in Houston. After retiring, he moved to Auckland, New Zealand where he was on the team to set up Air New Zealand’s initial training program for the next generation Dreamliner, the B-787-9. After returning to the US, Mike joined Boeing’s training department as a Global Instructor for the B-787, teaching at Boeing campuses around the world, most recently starting a new B-787 program for ANA in Japan.
Mike owns five airplanes, so he remains active in General Aviation, flying many types of aircraft, mostly his Citabria and HU-16 Albatross. He also operates a small flight school from his hangar at Lonestar Airport in Conroe, Texas for the higher levels of training, ATP and Commercial Multi-engine.
Mike is on the Board of Directors for the Greater Houston Association of Flight Instructors (GHAFI) and for several years was the FIRC Director (Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic) where he conducted quarterly safety clinics for Flight Instructors and General Aviation pilots. Mike helped develop the Professional Pilot Program for Lonestar College, which is a two-year college degree with all ratings though Commercial and CFI. He is a founding member of its Advisory Board and the Chairman, working with other members of the aviation community to promote education with aviation. Mike is also on the Board for Rising Aviation High School Board in Dallas, a Charter High School that will provide flight training for the Private Pilot Certificate while attending high school.
Mike is a staff member of the Wings Over Houston Airshow, previously as the Waiver Holder, and now as the Airshow Team Liaison Officer working with show teams like the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Canadian Snowbirds, USAF Demo Team, Breitling and others.
Mike’s two sons, Mike, Jr. and Jason, are both pilots, making them fourth generation pilots, which is a rarity. Mike, Sr. has been attending the Reno Air Races for many years. He owns a race team with several Cassutt racers in the Formula 1 Class, including one flown by his son Jason who won “Rookie of the Year” in 2017.