AT COMMUTEAIR, WE HAVE GREAT PEOPLE WITH GREAT STORIES TO SHARE.
Describe your journey to becoming a pilot.
As a kid, I pretty much always wanted to be a pilot, but I thought that the only way to get there was through the military. I thought, “Military, then commercial training, then airlines” would be the process and as I got older, I recognized I really didn’t want to go the military route so I kind of put that childhood dream to the side. I was in my early 20s when a friend of mine suggested applying to United Airlines as a Flight Attendant.
It sounded like a good opportunity, so I filled out the application and that’s where the dream of becoming a pilot came back to me. I really started down the rabbit hole of what it would be like to become a pilot, and just knew that if I took the flight attendant route now, I would always be yearning for the next step of becoming a pilot later. So I decided to take a little risk and go straight for the pilot route. I applied for the loan required to finance myself through the ATP Flight School program and said, “If it gets approved, then I’m going for it, if not I’ll do something else.” Lo and behold – I got approved! After that, I was off to San Diego for training.
Is there a particular moment that influenced or helped shape your career?
I would definitely say I was self-actualized while I was instructing. I really, really enjoyed it. I still keep in touch with all my students today! One of my students became an instructor and then started flying a commercial turboprop, and now she’s a line check pilot! I think that in the future instructing is a role that I’ll likely re-enter to some extent. My ideas about training and instructing really changed during my own Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) training. Some instructors treat the instructing time only as an opportunity to build their own hours, but I believe that making that time about the student is an important attitude to have as an instructor. An instructor and really good friend of mine helped to lift my spirits during my own training and I started to recognize how important it was to give back to the next generation. That was really a turning point in my flying career. I instructed for two more years before eventually joining commercial aviation with CommuteAir.
What are some of your plans for the future?
I’m in the United Aviate program – I definitely want to be a wide-body captain for United Airlines. That’s my goal. I really want to do the long-haul international flights and have the opportunities to travel and see new places. United is a fantastic airline that’s leading the industry by example. Plus, being the captain of a really big plane is very enticing!
What advice would you give to future generations of aviators?
Just go for it. Don’t be afraid of the challenge and don’t be afraid to speak your voice. Every voice is valid. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be heard. I say push boundaries where they need to be pushed! The aviation industry can be very conservative, and being a gay Latino pilot can be tough sometimes. Watching and learning from others navigating through it has been helpful but it’s also really a changing industry. United especially stands out as a mainline carrier that is a force for change and I’m excited to see where the industry goes – We are definitely on track to becoming more diverse and inclusive.