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Behind the Wings: Putting together the puzzle pieces

In 2017, Dispatcher Edgardo Toro-Quinones left dispatch school to return home to Puerto Rico to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Maria. The hurricane wreaked havoc on the island, leaving his family and the entire island without electricity for 104 days. He wasn’t going to let a hurricane and a diversion along his career journey stop him from accomplishing his goal of becoming an aircraft dispatcher.

“I hadn’t worked for almost two years prior to joining Piedmont because of dispatch school attendance and staying in Puerto Rico with my family after the hurricane,” said Edgardo. “I’m thankful that Piedmont took a chance on me. I love dispatching and coming to work every day.”

A career in aviation wasn’t always top of mind. After high school graduation, Edgardo moved to the United States to pursue his first love: music. He played the drums since age 12 and initially wanted to pursue music as a career. He attended Miami-Dade Community College where he studied sound engineering and music and obtained his certificate in recording engineering and studio maintenance from the Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio. His career goal was to produce records and work with sound systems.

He returned to Puerto Rico where he worked as a sound technician, monitor engineer for a touring band and drum technician for different drummers around the country. When he wasn’t touring, he worked as a salesman at a music store in the percussion and sound department. During this time, local musician Ricky Martin was gaining popularity worldwide and Edgardo was asked by one of Ricky’s musicians to go on tour with the band. Knowing that touring would not be a long-term career and life on the road wasn’t easy, he declined the offer to remain home with his family.

Edgardo was inspired by his older twin brothers, a pilot for a regional carrier and an aircraft mechanic, to follow his passion for aviation and begin flying lessons. His younger brother has his commercial pilot license as well. After attending flight school for one year, he stopped the lessons due to the financial impact.

In 2004, Edgardo began working as an aircraft fueler for British Petroleum (BP) at San Juan International (SJU) Airport. BP was contracted to provide fuel for the American Airlines aircraft that landed at SJU. After 13 years, he was furloughed and decided to attend dispatch school. “Being a fueler was a small piece in a very big puzzle when it came to aviation and I wanted to learn more parts of the puzzle,” exclaims Edgardo. “Even though I didn’t obtain my license to fly airplanes, in dispatch I could be the airplane’s captain on the ground.”

In 2017, he began the five-week training at Sheffield School of Aeronautics in Florida. After two weeks, he paused his training to return to Puerto Rico to be with his family during Hurricane Maria. “The entire island was without power for over 100 days,” Edgardo says. “Thankfully no one in my family was injured but the area was a mess. Roads were damaged and there was no cell service.” After spending some time in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, he returned to Florida to start dispatch school again. He completed training and obtained his dispatch certificate in 2018. A Piedmont dispatcher whom he met in training reached out to him to advise that Piedmont was hiring and he successfully joined Piedmont Airlines that Fall.

As a dispatcher, Edgardo is responsible for monitoring flights that are in the air and communicating with crewmembers. He enjoys meeting crewmembers through his role as dispatcher but also wanted to meet team members from other departments. Due to the nature of working at a desk, meeting new colleagues was often difficult. Therefore, he joined the Latin Diversity Network Employee Resource Group to help with this challenge of meeting new team members, share his life experiences and learn about others’ experiences.

Even though he can’t attend meetings regularly because of the nature of his workday, he enjoys reading the meeting minutes and being involved in initiatives. He is also a Do Crew volunteer and looks forward to meeting more team members through company engagement initiatives.

Edgardo and his wife recently purchased their first home and are excited to begin the journey of homeownership. In his spare time, Edgardo enjoys playing the drums, spending time with his family, visiting museums and using his company travel benefits to visit family in Puerto Rico.

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Behind the Wings is a Piedmont feature that highlights the accomplishments of the aviation professionals who make us Piedmont Proud inside and outside the airport. Piedmont is proud to recognize our Latino team members and their contributions to the success of the airline and making a difference in their communities.