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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Turning a dream of flying into a reality

Growing up in Ecuador and New York City, First Officer Carlos Cabrera is proud of his Ecuadorian roots. He celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month to honor Hispanic culture and the contributions made by Hispanic people. Whether he is attending festivals in the Charlotte area where he lives or traveling to his old neighborhood in New York, he never forgets where he came from.

“Ever since I had the opportunity to see the flight deck as a kid, I knew I wanted to be a pilot,” shares Carlos. Now that he is a pilot, it’s important for him to share his culture and experience in the industry with others, reflecting that there are not many people from Cuenca, Ecuador, who work in aviation.

Originally from Cuenca, Ecuador, Carlos earned his associate degree in Business Management and private pilot license before moving to New York City when he was 19.  Carlos then moved to Charlotte where he worked as a supervisor for Prospect at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) providing mobility assistance for passengers.

After meeting and speaking with Piedmont gate agent and fellow pilot, Adrienne Whitfield, she encouraged him to join Piedmont as a gate agent to take advantage of the CAP program, a program that helps current Piedmont team members become commercial pilots. He thought it sounded like a good opportunity, so he joined Piedmont as a full-time gate agent in October 2018. Working around Piedmont team members at the airport, he was familiar with the company and had a good working relationship with all of the team members. He shares that it was an easy transition and a good decision.

“I enjoyed working as a gate agent,” says Carlos. “It was fun meeting all kinds of people and helping passengers.” By working full-time and only flying on weekends, Carlos wasn’t accumulating enough hours, so he decided to scale back to part-time. “I was working three jobs at one time, but it was worth it,” shares Carlos. He completed his required flight hours just prior to COVID and started First Officer training in June 2021.

Carlos says that he has been treated like a member of the family since day one of joining Piedmont. “I like that Piedmont is a smaller regional carrier and that I know many of the people here.” Having worked the gate first, he better understands the different aspects of the operation. “As a former gate agent, I share my knowledge with crews to help them better understand from a different perspective. The goal is still the same for all: to get the flight out safely and on time.”

As a pilot, Carlos enjoys seeing team members he used to work with in Terminal E. “My old co-workers are always asking me questions about flying and how I made it happen,” he says. “I tell them that if I can do it, anyone can.”

Carlos is the Chair of the Pilot Membership Committee that meets with all new hire pilots and is excited to see more Hispanic pilots joining Piedmont. He is a member of the Latin Diversity Network Employee Resource Group and enjoys sharing his culture with others.

Piedmont’s culture makes positive differences in our team members and their communities. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups. They foster a diverse workplace aligned with organizational mission and values. Our team members represent people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We welcome their diverse perspectives and experiences. Are you interested in working for a company who encourages you to be your authentic self? Click here for open positions.