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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Flying the sky while grounded in tradition

When someone asks First Officer Martin Pereyra Dottori where he is from, he will reply that he is from the world. “I’ve lived in Argentina, Spain and Puerto Rico so I don’t feel attached to a single culture,” recalls Martin. “All of those countries are a part of who I am.” Having experienced three different Hispanic cultures, he proudly embraces them all.

At age seven, Martin and his family moved from Argentina to Spain where he spent the remainder of his childhood. He recalls memories of attending cultural parades and people dressing up for ‘Semana Santa’ or Holy Week and attending church with his grandmother. While attending college in Spain, he ran with the bulls in Pamplona during the Festival of San Fermin. The sport of soccer and his love of food are the common thread among all the cultures that he carries with him. “No matter where I go, I always seek Argentinian and Puerto Rican food to eat and look for a soccer field to play on.”

Martin completed his junior and senior years of high school in the United States as a foreign exchange student. Although Martin’s parents wanted him to be a doctor, he had other plans. “Both of my parents are doctors, but I wanted to do something cooler like fly an airplane,” he recalls with a smile. In his senior year, he recalls having to share what he planned to do after high school on stage in front of his classmates. “I told my class that I wanted to be a pilot and my classmates laughed at me,” he shares. “They thought it was too hard for me which encouraged me even more.” After graduation, Martin returned to Spain to pursue aviation. He attended one year at the European School of Aeronautics but after speaking with several people about the increased level of flight safety in the United States, he decided to finish his degree in Puerto Rico. While living in Puerto Rico, Martin learned to be resilient, surviving two major hurricanes including Hurricane Maria where he lived on the 24th floor of his building with no electricity, running water or elevators for six months. Within three months of the devastating hurricane, his classes resumed. “We had no lights in the classrooms, so we had class outside,” recalls Martin. “We were unable to fly as there was no radar available.”

When classes resumed, Piedmont Airlines recruiters visited his school in Puerto Rico, and he had an opportunity to learn what Piedmont had to offer pilots. “They shared that Piedmont was part of the American Airlines Group and had a direct flow to the world’s largest airline which got me interested.” He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Aircraft Management Systems from Inter American University and after graduation began working as a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) to build flight hours until the COVID pandemic put a pause on flying. He obtained his skydiving license and worked as a skydive pilot until flying resumed.

When commercial flying ramped back up post-COVID, he learned from some pilot friends that Piedmont was hiring and offered job security and stability as during COVID, Piedmont did not furlough a single pilot. His friends also shared that the Embraer 145 was a good airplane for someone to begin commercial flying in. Piedmont is the main operator of Embraer 145s as a wholly-owned carrier for American Airlines.

Last summer, Martin relocated to the United States from Puerto Rico to fulfill his dream of being a commercial pilot and joined Piedmont as a First Officer. “I enjoy the view and seeing the sun rise and set,” share Martin. “It’s always sunny above the clouds!”

In his free time, he makes every effort to visit Argentina, Spain, and Puerto Rico when he can, often taking family and friends along using his company travel benefits. “I enjoy taking my friends and family to experience part of my culture,” shares Martin. “The places are so beautiful and rich in culture that I think everyone should experience it.”

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