09/15/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/15/2021 12:18
By F/O Jerry Dooyes (United) President and Founder, Latino Pilots Association
My parents came to the United States as immigrants. Growing up Latino provided the foundation for where I am today, including my involvement with the Latino Pilots Association (LPA).
Thinking back, there has never been a time in my life when I remember wanting to be anything other than an airline pilot. Some of my family members were involved in the aviation industry in various capacities, but there were no pilots. My mother was a flight attendant/civilian contractor with the Peruvian Air Force and later for Aeroperú. She often shared stories about flying over the Amazon at low altitudes, barely clearing mountainous terrain as they departed Peru, traversing the Andes in their DC-3 (sorry, mom, I know this aged you!). Perhaps it was her stories that planted the seeds of adventure in me? Or maybe it was my uncles who took me to air shows and encouraged my passion by taking me plane watching in LAX and MIA? What I can say for certain is that without this exposure and support, I would not be the United pilot I am today.
This is why I wanted to start the LPA-to provide a path and guidance for those who may not know where to start. The LPA was formed by five friends from college (including our founding president/fellow United pilot, F/O Nick Sorkki), the idea of giving back, and $500. The LPA now has close to 1,000 members. These 1,000 pilot volunteers are led by a team of dedicated regional directors in strategic focus cities all around the United States and Puerto Rico. We target schools with a heavy Latino demographic, and show them firsthand that they, too, can be an airline pilot. As always, and from the start, LPA is an all-inclusive volunteer organization that will help anyone just the same. I think that makes the LPA unique, as our efforts follow a 'rising tide lifts all boats' philosophy.
Hispanic heritage month has really created an awareness for the LPA and our involvement in the industry. With this heightened awareness comes new opportunities for us to scale our efforts as new partnerships are formed and more volunteer activities become available, and allows us to attract new members and support. Many airlines have made commitments to the LPA in support of our efforts-without their support, we would not have been able to grow and give back to the Latino community in such fashion.
I am thankful that we have a motivated team who understands that helping guide and inspire a future generation of Latino aviators puts out an energy more powerful than any tech. It is real, you can touch it, and we see the results. We have helped hundreds realize the dream of reaching a position on the flight deck. We are never 'too small' to make a difference! Unidos mejoramos.