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Who’s Who – Employee Spotlight

 


The world of aviation brings together people from a variety of backgrounds and career experiences. Here at Ameriflight, our employees have unique and interesting stories to tell and we’re here to share them.

We’re featuring employees across our company, scroll down to see more! 👇

 


 

 

 

Meet SAAB340 First Officer, Justin Alicea! 👋😎

“I was born in Cleveland, OH but was raised in Arroyo, Puerto Rico. I’m the oldest of four siblings and my mother used to work for Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) in Catering, which came with standby privileges. My family used to get stuck in Newark, NJ often when returning from Puerto Rico which is what gave me the aviation bug. I’ve known I wanted to be a pilot from a young age. 

 Prior to becoming a pilot, I served in the US Army. During that time, I was stationed in South Korea for a year as my first duty station. Every weekend I would go to Seoul and explore; it’s on my list of favorite places I’ve traveled to. 

While in the Army, I did some research on what to do for building flight time, pilot careers, etc. After getting out of the Army, I got my CDL and drove Charter Buses while I was working on all my pilot certificates. I became a Flight Instructor at US Aviation Academy and also worked as a Survey Pilot in the Philadelphia area.  I was able to fly over many parts of the United States including the New York City area many times. 

During my pilot career research, Ameriflight came up and I knew it would be a good option and great place for me to gain the skills I needed as a pilot – Ameriflight has always been on my radar. I ended up joining the United Aviate Program and soon learned that Ameriflight was a Part 135 partner and decided to apply.

I was hired at Ameriflight in July of 2023 as a First Officer on the SAAB340. I currently fly in the Expedited Supply Chain Solutions (ESCS) Department, flying on-demand cargo throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. My role as SAAB340 FO includes assisting the Captain on preflight and flight duties, loading and unloading the cargo, and securing the aircraft. One of my favorite things about ESCS flying is showing up to work and not knowing where the day will take me. We fly wherever the customer needs us, so every day is a new adventure.

One of my favorite memories so far as an Ameriflight pilot was my last IOE flight – we flew into Mexico making it my first international flight! I’ve enjoyed my time here at Ameriflight so far and look forward to what the future holds.”

Keep up the great work, Justin! We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. ✈️

 

 


 

 

 

Meet Darla Sanches, Accounts Payable Team Lead 😄👋

“I was born and raised in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana, but moved to Texas in 1994, so I consider myself a common-law Texan.  My daughter is an only child, and she and her wife live in East Dallas.  She works as a corporate travel consultant, and I am extremely proud of the human being she has become. I have a cat, Biskit, who has kind of become the Accounts Payable (AP) Team Mascot since the Covid lockdowns because he always had to be on camera during our Teams meetings.

 

 

Before coming to work for Ameriflight, I worked as an Accounts Receivable Clerk for AutoNation.  Prior to that I held several temp and permanent positions as an Administrative Assistant, the longest period being just a little over 10 years with Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, Texas.  After getting laid off so many times due to companies moving away from utilizing Admins, I knew I needed to make a change in my career, but I had no college degree and really no experience in any other field.  I was able to move into the Accounting/Finance world with the help of managers who trusted me to take on the responsibilities of the job and I have found it to be very rewarding.

I started at Ameriflight as a temp in early 2018.  It was an account auditing position that was only supposed to last about three months, but I was eventually hired permanently in October of 2018 as an Accounts Payable Specialist. 

At the end of 2021, I was promoted to Accounts Payable Team Lead and took on the duties of directly assisting the AP Manager, as well as providing additional support to the AP Team. I continue to perform the duties of an AP Specialist, which is the processing of invoices for payment, along with the additional responsibilities of being the Team Lead.  My work as a Team Lead provides me the opportunity to not only assist my team members, but also be somewhat of a liaison between them and upper management, which is the part of the job that I have found to be the most rewarding.

Most people, including myself at one time, probably think it is mundane to be in accounting, but it’s more than just data entry and spreadsheets (although that is a lot of it) and I am NEVER bored and it’s never the same from day-to-day!

It might seem a bit strange to say this is my favorite memory at Ameriflight because of the reason it came about, but it was during the Covid lockdowns.  How the AP Team pulled together to keep things running as smoothly as possible. That time not only brought us closer together as a team, but tested our resolve in ways that were quite unexpected.  The fact that we got through it and came out on the other side stronger was a credit to our character and perseverance.  I was, and still am, proud to be a part of the AP Team and the Finance department.

I am also an Ameriflight Safety Ambassador – we’re a voluntary group that meet once a month to discuss ways to strengthen the Ameriflight safety culture, decrease injuries, and complete safety challenges that help make Ameriflight the safest it can be.

Being in Accounts Payable does not necessarily put me in the mix of things, aviation-wise, but I still catch myself sitting in the breakroom staring down at the planes, watching maintenance and being fascinated at how planes work and how important they are to our way of life.  I do feel a sense of importance and responsibility, in my position, as I know I am part of the cog that keeps things moving – even if a small one.

We appreciate all that you do at Ameriflight, Darla! We’re proud to have you on the team. ✈️

 

 


 

 

 

Meet Captain Craig Ciaffoni! 👨‍✈️👋

Craig, his wife Jessica, and stepson Jefferson

“I grew up in Albany, Oregon (shout out to the PNW!).  My parents still live there, as does my brother with his family. My job with Ameriflight has taken me all over the country, but I’ve settled in Arlington, Texas (the true home of the Dallas Cowboys) with my lovely wife, Jessica, and stepson Jefferson.

I finished my degree and flight training during the post- 9/11 recession, and so there were few pilot jobs to be had.  I worked for some months driving a lumber delivery truck while handing out resumes to any flight school that would let me in the door.  It finally bore fruit, and I spent nearly three years working as a flight instructor and teaching aviation classes at the community college.

I started at Ameriflight in 2005, only planning to stick around for six months before going to my regional airline of choice.  The opportunities to learn new skills and master new challenges kept coming at Ameriflight, and I was also fortunate to be flying at Ameriflight during the Great Recession when many pilots were hustling delivering pizzas or working hard as sandwich artists.  Nearly twenty years later, I’m still here. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to fly every aircraft type Ameriflight currently has (BE99, BE1900, SA227, EMB120, SAAB340) plus the Chieftain, which is what I was originally hired to fly in. 

 

 

As a SAAB340 Captain in the ESCS (Charter) Operation, we can be called to fly almost anywhere for the time that we’re on duty.  When not in the air, we spend a lot of our time prepping for the next flight, trying to anticipate and plan for where we’re going next, and occasionally waiting in a lounge chair for a trip notice. 

SAAB340 Sunset

By far the best thing about my time as a pilot with Ameriflight has been the places I’ve gone, the people I’ve met, and the cultures I’ve encountered along the way.  My job has taken me throughout North America and the Caribbean.  It all makes the world, and its people, seem a little closer. Some years ago, I travelled to the Caribbean Island of Dominica to help Ameriflight ascertain whether one of their airports was suitable for BE99 operations.  It’s a beautiful island with few American influences (think hotel and restaurant chains).  The entire trip was an adventure, from lodging in a local rainforest cabana to driving a right-drive car across the island and back on the left side of the road!

One of my favorite memories and one that still makes me smile, was a charter Brasilia flight I captained many years ago transporting rescued laying hens.  It brought a unique set of challenges, and some in my family still call me “Captain Cluck.”

When I’m not flying, I spend a lot of time with my wife and adventure companion, Jessica.  In the woods, on the water, or in a new restaurant, we love exploring. We’re fortunate in the DFW area to attract cultures and cuisines from around the planet.”

I’ll leave you with this: “Follow your dreams! You can reach your goals. I’m living proof. Beefcake!  Beefcaaaake!” – Eric Cartman

 

 

We appreciate all that you’ve done at Ameriflight over the past 19 years, Craig! We’re proud to have you on the team. 😊

 


 

 

Meet First Officer Zaccary Marek! 👋

“I grew up in Heath, TX with my parents, John and Gina, and my two younger brothers, Luke and Jackson. Growing up I was big into sports, hunting, fishing, and hanging out with my friends and family.

United States Marine Corps

Right after high school I joined the United States Marine Corps where I served five years in Beaufort, South Carolina as a Flight Equipment Technician for the F-35 program. As a kid, I always wanted to be a pilot. After leaving the military I was able to pursue that dream.

After I got out of the military, I enrolled into Liberty University where I received my bachelor’s degree in aviation. While I was in college, I also attended flight school at US Aviation Academy where I earned all my pilot certificates. Once I received my pilot certificate, I moved to Punta Gorda, FL where I was a flight instructor!

Ameriflight crews in Aruba – Captain Ileana Pineda, First Officers Ricki Foster and Zacc Marek

I started working at Ameriflight in September of 2023 following the United Aviate Program from my flight school. I currently work as a First Officer in Aguadilla, PR. I switch off flying integrator runs and ESCS, or Charter, runs. As a First Officer, the Captain and I work together as a team to ensure every flight runs smoothly. We typically fly all over the Caribbean Sea and eastern United States. Island hopping around the Caribbean is very interesting – almost every island we fly to is owned by various countries in the world. I’ve met many different people from around the world just by flying around the Caribbean.

I have always wanted to work at Ameriflight since the beginning of my flight training because of all the experiences offered – from leadership roles to gaining valuable experience flying multi engine turboprop aircraft. A favorite memory I have while working here so far was coming in to land at the Sint Maarten Airport. You fly over Maho Beach, which is located on the approach end of the runway, and you can see all the people waving at you!

When I’m not working, you can usually find me at the beach, hiking the many trails around Puerto Rico, or cheering on the Dallas Cowboys. 

 

 

 

Keep up the good work, Zacc! We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. 👨‍✈️👍

 


 

 

Meet BE1900 Captain Levy Young 👋

“I grew up in Lenoir, North Carolina, a small town in the Western part of the state. I am the second of three children, wedged between my two awesome sisters. My family has played an enormous role in getting me where I am today. I can’t mention family without mentioning my Uncle Cregg, and my grandfather, both of which are pilots and are responsible for my love and passion for aviation. 

 

 

Prior to joining the Ameriflight team, I was a UPS FlightPath Intern in the Boeing 757/767 Standards and Training office, and was also a CFI in Louisville, Kentucky. My time as an intern and CFI molded me into the pilot I am today and built a foundation I will forever be grateful for. 

 I was in the May 2023 new hire class at Ameriflight, hired as a BE99 Captain. I joined the Ameriflight team to continue my dream of one day flying at UPS, as part of the UPS FlightPath Program. I believe Ameriflight provides pilots with the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to become the best pilot they can be. 

Views as a BE1900 Captain

After flying the BE99 for four months out of Lansing, MI, I upgraded aircraft to the BE1900 based in CVG, but will be relocating bases in the near future. Over the past couple of months, I have been flying a route for UPS from Moline, Illinois into UPS Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky. This has been a truly unique and valuable experience, having the opportunity to see firsthand one of the largest air cargo operations in the world. This route operates daily, or nightly rather, Monday night through Saturday morning. Flying nights can be a challenge, but who doesn’t love a good challenge to sharpen their skills?

 

Keep up the good work, Levy! We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. 👨‍✈️👍

 


 

 

 

Meet Emma Soucy, Aviation Maintenance Lead II 👋

“Hi, I’m Emma Soucy. I was born in a small town in Colorado where I grew up at a newspaper that my mother was the editor of. I moved to Arizona in high school and later joined the Marines where I was a F/A-18 Avionics Technician and found my love for aviation. 

I went to A&P Technician school in Tennessee and then moved back to Phoenix. I also worked at Cutter Aviation for a little bit on Pilatus, Pipers and HondaJets. 

 

 

I started working at Ameriflight in 2021 as a level 1 technician. I got some experience here and became a level 2 technician before leaving for about a year and a half. I found my way back to Ameriflight in 2023 and am now the Maintenance Lead for day shift at the PHX base in Phoenix, AZ. Planning the workload and delegating tasks as well as performing maintenance and ensuring launches go smoothly are a big part of my daily work activity. I’ve had a lot of good memories with my fellow coworkers here at Ameriflight – every day is different and brings new challenges but that’s what keeps things interesting.

Outside of work, I’m a big fitness junkie. You can usually find me weightlifting, hiking, doing jiu jitsu or yoga, or being as active as possible. Aside from fitness, I also play video games and spend time with friends. 

As a mechanic, the concept of flight is fascinating. Taking a step back and wondering why components and structures are built the way they are to create that flight is very interesting. Over the years I’ve found that you better yourself as a mechanic when you understand the theories behind flight.”

 

Keep up the good work, Emma! We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. ✈️

 

 


 

 

Meet Sarah Hankla, Recruiter and Aviate Program Manager 👋

“I grew up in east Texas with my parents and two brothers. I am a mom of two kids and three dogs, so I tend to stay pretty busy. Prior to Ameriflight, I worked for two separate medical companies. The first as a case manager working with kids in foster care, and the second as a HR Specialist.

I have always been interested in the airline industry so I applied for a Recruiting role here at Ameriflight and was hired in May of 2017.

In my current role, I oversee the United Aviate Program from a pilot recruiting perspective in addition to hiring for various positions within the company. I also attend job fairs and events throughout the year like NGPA, WAI, and EAA AirVenture to recruit pilots, maintenance techs, and more, as well as spread the word in general about all the great career opportunities Ameriflight has to offer. 

 

Sarah was nominated for this feature by Pete Schiess, Director of Pilot Development. Here’s what he has to say about Sarah.

“Sarah does a great job of maintaining relationships with up-and-coming pilots, and motivating them to get the certificates, ratings, or flight hours required for a position.  Once they meet the requirements, she really advocates for the applicants who have taken her advice. Sarah is a great team player and asset to the AMF recruiting team. She’s always willing to take on any project I give her, and I enjoy having her on my team. She can be a pain in the butt, but she runs pretty fast (and has a good sense of humor).😜 – Pete Schiess

 

 

 

In my free time, I am a runner, triathlete, and coach. I started running when I was 11 and ran cross country and track in college. My college coach was a triathlete and big into Ironman Races so his stories were my first introduction to the sport. Swimming and biking became a big part of my training in college due to an injury, which was the perfect recipe for a triathlete in the making. In 2008, I did my first triathlon, fell in love with the sport, and have raced ever since. 

I have done hundreds of races but my ‘biggest’ are three full-distance Ironman events including the 2023 Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI which I qualified for at the2022 Ironman in Waco, TX, as well as the 2023 Boston Marathon which I qualified for at the 2022 Houston Marathon.

I developed a passion for leading and coaching during my time as team captain for several years on the cross country team at the University of Texas at Tyler. In 2008, I coached the female distance runners for Grace Community High School in Tyler, TX. I continue my passion by coaching runners and triathletes of all levels with Fly Tri Racing both virtually and in person. I also do professional bike fits.”

 

 

Thanks for all that you do Sarah! We’re happy to have you on the Ameriflight team.

 


 

 

Meet SA227 Captain, Jihoon Lim 👍😄

“I was born in Busan, South Korea 40 years ago. When I was kid, my family members were mom, dad and younger brother. At the age of four, my family moved to Seoul, South Korea and I was raised there until I was 20. As a kid, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career wise until I was in the 11th grade – we were living in South Korea and one day I saw an advertisement stating that tuition into the military academy was free. I thought jet fighter pilot sounded awesome, so I applied for the Air Force Academy. After graduation, I didn’t end up getting a pilot position, but instead served in the Republic of Korea Air Force for 11 years as a Logistics Readiness Officer where I managed maintenance of avionics and line service. 

During my time in the Air Force, I saw many of my friends cross the pacific to do flight training in the United States. Their goal was to become an airline pilot in Korea because at the time, there were five new low-cost airlines that launched in the small country. I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a pilot and followed my friends to the United States, Portland, Oregon specifically, and started flight training. I flight instructed at Hillsboro Aero Academy in Oregon as well as JC Air Academy in California. 

A few months into training, I met my wife at a Korean church and married her. We now have a one-year-old son.

 

 

I was hired by Ameriflight in June of 2022 as a BE99 Captain based in PDX. I was familiar with Ameriflight during flight training; I had heard that Korean Airlines previously had a pilot program with Ameriflight. I also thought Ameriflight sounded like a nice company to start building turbine engine experience earlier than other pilots. Luckily, there was a vacant BE99 Captain position in PDX when I received my green card and I applied.

In February of 2023, I upgraded aircraft and now fly the SA227 tube (or as some say, pencil) out of El Paso, TX in the ESCS operation. We fly anywhere and everywhere ESCS tells us to. There is no same route each day, every day is different. The SA227 is a quirky airplane, but is fun to fly, especially with my FO.

Some of my favorite memories are when I came to DFW for my sim training and doing OE in PDX for the first time. I was nervous because it was my first real commercial job in the United States and english is my second language. However, my sim instructor Grant Bradshaw, OE instructor Peter Boisselle, Ops Supervisor Andy McCunn, Director of Airline Ops Steve Rozell and everyone that I met in DFW and PDX were nice and welcoming to me. I appreciate it always.”

 

 

Keep working hard, Jihoon!  We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team.

 


 

 

Meet BE1900 Captain, Kritika Vincent 👋👩‍✈️

“I was born and raised in New Delhi, India. I moved to the United States to pursue my Bachelors in Aviation Management and Flight Ops from Jacksonville University, FL. Growing up in India and coming from a working class family has built a strong foundation for me. Along with studying abroad, and participating in the aviation communities like I do, I have only become a better aviator in the last decade. 

with fellow AMF Captain and friend, Emily Hicks

Previously, most of my flying was done in Florida where I flight instructed in both Part 141 and Part 61 environments. I had known about Ameriflight for years; some of my close friends and women in my mentorship are employed here as well. Two of my closest friends, Ileana Pineda and Emily Hicks, are both Captain here at Ameriflight so it was a quick decision to apply when I spoke to both of them.

My journey at Ameriflight began in April of 2023 as a BE99 Captain. In August I upgraded to the BE1900 and I currently stay qualified on both aircraft. A normal day for me as a BE1900 Captain looks something like this: I show up in the A.M., preflight and supervise loading of cargo from the customer, fly to the run assigned, sit at the outstation where I occasionally go out on walks, but mostly, get a few hours of rest at my outstation. I usually meal prep so I carry my own food everywhere I go. In the P.M., I plan for my route by checking weather, doing weight and balance, and then get started on my legs back to LAN.

 

 

Ameriflight is my first job where I have been given the opportunity to grow as a Commercial Multi Pilot and one of my favorite things is the single-pilot IFR! I cannot stress enough how important my training has been here at Ameriflight. On a daily basis, I am shooting approaches to the mins which has made me a better and more skilled pilot. Back in Florida, most of my flying was in VMC, and simulated IMC. Here up north, weather is no joke. This year is going to put my skills to test flying in Lansing, MI with the winter operation and the weather that is foreseeable in the months to come.

I also do like my little interactions with our cargo loaders. Everyone is so unique, and they differ in personalities from one place to another, which is always interesting.

I am a person with a lot of interests – fashion, photography, modeling…but you’d really see the geek in me come out when there is a flying event nearby. I also really enjoy cooking. With an Indian background and the love I have for food, I am always mixing flavors from the East and the West and coming up with fusions. Apart from cooking, I like visiting local farmer’s market, gardening, and do volunteer work for Ninety-Nines which is a non-profit organization for Women Pilots. When I have a long weekend, I like to visit family in Florida where I spent the last 10 years of my life, soak in the beach vibes, and enjoy a beer by the water!”

 

 

Keep being awesome! Ameriflight is proud to have you on the team, Kritika! 🤗

 


 

 

Meet SA227 Captain, Justin Lomakin 👋😄

“I grew up in the suburbs of Orange County, California with my mom, dad and sister. I had an awesome childhood with a lot of adventure surrounded by good people making some unforgettable memories. When I’m not working, my time is spent trying not to make being a pilot a personality trait, so I participate in activities such as being part of a pro volleyball team out in Phoenix (also lots of pick-up volleyball), playing piano, wandering into the wilderness in my jeep with friends and chasing new goals! 

On the road to becoming a pilot, I worked as an aircraft detailer, worked at Costco, and on the side was a successful handyman and personal trainer to pay for my ratings. Before I worked at Ameriflight, I was flight instructing as it was a very large passion of mine as I thoroughly enjoyed working with people. I found myself very apt at giving instruction and flying the gambit of GA airplanes. However, I found myself needing more of a challenge. Enter Ameriflight with turbine engines!!

I was hired at Ameriflight in March of 2022 as a EMB120 First Officer. In February of 2023, I became a BE99 Captain and less then six months later I upgraded to the SA227. I currently serve as a SA227 Charter Captain based in El Paso, TX. I show up to work each day, lay my Ameriflight merchandise out on the table in the shape of an airplane and pray to the flying gods we get a trip booked so we can go fly!  Not that dramatic, but who doesn’t love flying! 🙂 

 

 

I’ve had many amazing memories over my time here at Ameriflight. I had the opportunity to live in Puerto Rico while flying the EMB120 – that was definitely a highlight of my life. I’ve also never had a more fun time than during all three of my IOE experiences. IOE is serious training but if you and your instructors can still manage to have belly laughter during your experience, it makes life feel full. 

Ameriflight has been the best thing to happen to my career and I continue to look forward to working with Ameriflight to continue my growth. The connections I’ve made and life I’ve lived has been a dream. I hope to upgrade to SAAB340 Charter Captain in the near future and would love to return to instructing!”

 

 

Thanks for all that you do, Justin! We appreciate your hard work and are proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. ✈️

 


 

 

Meet SAAB340 First Officer, Casey Foote 👩‍✈️👋

“Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor or veterinarian, now I can’t imagine not being a pilot. After high school, I studied Health Sciences at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Soon after college, I went on a discovery flight in Denver, CO and decided I wanted to pursue a career in flying.

Flight Instructor

My fiance and I moved to the Dallas, TX area which is where I began working on my flight requirements. I started flight school February of 2021, and finished up my training January of 2022. From there, I instructed for about a year and before finding Ameriflight! It was a quick process but I have been super thankful for the support from my family and friends! 

SAAB340 Sim with Captain Craig Ciaffoni

I was hired at Ameriflight in February of this year as a SAAB340 First Officer in the ESCS (Charter) Department. Working in ESCS means that every day is different. We fly on-demand cargo, so unlike many other pilots at Ameriflight, we do not have set routes each day. Typically for us, we preflight the aircraft as soon as we arrive at the airport. Then, we wait patiently to be assigned a trip. Once we know where we are going, it’s go, go, go! 

I love the fact that I get to meet pilots and people from all over the country, and all over the world. We get to fly to new places all the time, but it’s always fun getting a trip back to my hometown, Louisville, KY. One of my favorite memories so far was flying with an all-female crew; it’s a memory I won’t forget!

When I’m not working, I spend as much time with family, friends, and cats that I can. I also enjoy being outdoors and staying active.”

 

 

Keep up the good work, Casey! We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. ✈️

 


 

 

Meet SA227 First Officer, Tanya Rundell 👩‍✈️👋

“Growing up, I was always around airplanes. My father was a Captain at American Airlines, so my love and admiration for aviation came from him. From a very young age, I would go up in Cessnas with him for fun and tag along with him for “take your child to work day.” 

During that time, I really got to see what it was like to be a pilot and how exhilarating an “average day” of work was. While on the ground, I would ask to sit in the flight deck. It was the most fascinating and, in my eyes, the most extraordinary place imaginable; I fantasized that someday I would be flying a big airplane. Fast forward a little, I was finally able to get started on flight training at the age of 16 while attending high school.

 

 

Before I started at Ameriflight and as I wrapped up college, I had the opportunity to fly for a laboratory transporting medical samples. I got hired at Ameriflight almost a year ago (October 2022) and am currently a First Officer on the Metroliner in the ESCS Department. The most exciting thing about flying in ESCS, is never knowing where we’ll end up anytime we get a trip and being able to see and fly into new cities.

When I’m not working I enjoy traveling to new places for hiking adventures, spending my days at the beach, and paddle boarding down in South Florida. I also love to spend my days with my cat, Ash.”

 

 

Keep up the good work, Tanya! We’re proud to have you on our team. ✈️

 


 

 

 

Meet SAAB340 Captain and DFW ESCS Pilot Supervisor, Jorge Robin Gonzalez 😎👍

“I was born and raised in the south of Chile and at the age of 17, I joined the Chilean Air Force. In this institution, I served for 17 years as a Pilot Officer and Flight Instructor flying the T-35, DHC-6, CJ-1 and KC -135. In 2016, I left the Air Force to start my career in civilian life, specifically as a corporate pilot where I flew the IAI-1125, LR-31A, CJ, CJ-2, and CJ-3+. I maintain my passion for teaching by working as a part-time CFII at different flight schools. Thanks to this career, I have had the chance to fly all over America and part of Europe. I consider myself lucky because of the family I have and because for me flying is not a job, it is my passion.

 

 

In 2022, I received an email from a recruiting company that was looking for Captains at Ameriflight. I started my application in December and was hired as a SAAB340 Captain in the ESCS (Charter) Department in February of 2023. As a SAAB Captain, I am responsible for planning and executing the flights assigned to me, while maintaining the safety standards required by the company and the FAA. I enojy the fact that every day and every flight is different. Eariler this month, I accepted the DFW ESCS Pilot Supervisor position.

When I’m not working, I try to spend as much time as possible with my family (wife and three kids), read, and go to the gym. I’m thankful for the opportunity Ameriflight has given me. Two of my three children want to be pilots and the possibilities of developing professionally as a pilot here in the United States are much greater than in Chile.”

Keep up the good work, Jorge! We’re proud to have you on our team. ✈️

 


 

 

 

Meet Charter Specialist, Joe Acord 😄👋

“Throughout my younger years, I always knew that I wanted to be in the aviation industry in some capacity. So, while going to college at THE Ohio State University! I decided to take a part-time job to supplement my poor college lifestyle in the aviation industry that would change my life forever.

During college, I became a ramp agent for Continental Airlines in Columbus, OH and at that time in my career I was the youngest (25 years old) General Manager at EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport). After holding that position for five years, I moved into the corporate world in Houston, TX. I held various roles such as Revenue Management, Network Planning, Staff Planning Director, and Sr. Regional Manager of East Coast Station Development.

 

 

My favorite position that I ever held was Charter Managing Director at United Airlines where I played a pivotal role in sales of MLB, NFL, NCAA, US IOC for the Olympics in Rio and Socci, as well as DOD movements for the armed services. This position, which I held for 13 years, afforded me opportunities that I could only dream of – I have had the pleasure of working with my favorite NFL team (Cleveland Browns), being the liaison between United Airlines and the Olympic IOC in Rio and Socci, just to name a few. But by far the proudest thing that I got to do was be the onsite representative for United Airlines in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Force Base for troop movements as well as JAG movements to and from Guantanamo Bay. In 2019, I took a retirement due to relocation of the company headquarters from Houston to Chicago.

 

I joined the Ameriflight team in August of 2022 as a Charter Specialist in the Expedited Supply Chain Solutions (ESCS) Department.  I sell and follow through with charter movements throughout Mexico and the U.S. My favorite thing to do is sell charters, so that I can contribute to the company.

When I’m not working, you can find me spending time with family (my wife of 13 amazing years and two kids), golfing, or riding my motorcycle. I’m happy to have the pleasure of working with such a tight-knit group in the ESCS Department at Ameriflight!”

Keep being awesome, Joe! We’re proud to have you on our team. ✈️

 

 


 

 

Meet Frank Pizzamiglio 👋👨‍✈️

I grew up around aviation, sports and the great outdoors. My father has been a pilot for 30+ years and he’s the main reason I got into aviation. Growing up, we went to just about any air show we could go to in the country and went to any aviation museum we found along the way. Before I could even conjure thoughts, aviation has been a staple of my life because of him. Whether that’s toys, RC Planes, or air shows, my father and I share the aviation bug. When I’m not working, you can find me spending time with my family, flying my dads plane around, or hopping in the 747 FTD to practice some IFR proficiency skills.

 

I started working at Ameriflight last September in 2022. Ameriflight always stuck out to me since it has been around for a while and is one of the largest Part 135 Airlines. Not only that, but my dad has been a freight dog for as long as I can remember so I always thought it would be awesome to tell him one day that I now fly cargo, too. 

Flying the SA227 🤠

Currently I’m a First Officer on the Metroliner in Ameriflight’s ESCS operation. We fly on-demand cargo to any airport the customer needs it delivered to. My role as a First Officer is pretty simple, I’m here to help and support the Captain as best as I can and do my best to help the cargo get to its destination. I love working charter and my favorite part about ESCS is the ever-changing dynamic of it. One day we are flying to Louisville, KY and the next we are flying to San Diego, CA. Then the following week we could fly dogs/cats to different places around the country to bring them to humane shelters for adoption. 

Check Airman Matt Preston (left) and FO Frank Pizzamiglio (right) after earning SA227 SIC type rating

The most interesting thing about my job is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a job. What they say is true… “when you find something you love, you never work a day in your life.” For me, flying the Metroliner around in ESCS never feels like work. I get the opportunity to fly into new airports every day, see new places, and fly around the country. The schedules are always changing, new cargo, new destination etc. it’s always an adventure. 

I have quite a few top memories so far, but my number one favorite would have to be when I was flying back to New Orleans, LA after completing a charity trip. We were passing through southeast Ohio and at the same time my father was taking off out of Cincinnati, OH with Atlas in the 767 heading to California. We ended up being on coms with each other and talked for a bit in 123.45. It’s a core memory I will never forget.

Find what you love and make it your job; it’ll never feel like work and you’ll be excited to work each and every day.” ✈️

 

Keep up the excellent work, Frank! We’re proud to have you on our team.

 


 

 

 

Meet Flight Safety Specialist, Greg  Foster 👋

Greg with his mom, dad, fiancée and dogs, Peanut and Chico

I am originally from Tucson, AZ and am the oldest of my siblings. My fiancée, Shenna, and I have two dogs and a cat together who make up the family. Our wedding is scheduled for October 19th, 2024. When we’re not working, you can find us on the water with friends, or traveling and exploring new areas around the world.

Greg’s InDoc photo

Prior to Ameriflight (many years ago) I flew a C-210 for Flight Express out of Oakland, CA – that was my big break into the Part 135 world! I was hired at Ameriflight in November of 2010 as a Chieftain Captain. Bob Sulahian, PA31 Program Manager at the time, taught my class!  I knew I needed to find a company where I could grow personally and professionally while also gaining platinum experience. In 2010 the industry was extremely competitive; I still remember Sheri Hudson, Manager of Pilot Recruiting at the time, doing my interview while Bob conducted my simulator evaluation. I was so excited when Sheri called and offered me the job.

I showed up to InDoc, and fast forward to 2023 and I’m still here. To this day one of my favorite Ameriflight memories was during InDoc. Bob was teaching; he would look at us, lean toward the class and slam the white board saying “cooooome onnnnn people, this isn’t hard.” 

Flying the Chieftain

Over my years here at Ameriflight, I have flown the PA-31, BE-99, BE-1900, SA-227, EMB-120 and the Private King Air 200, N200AF (the private King Air was a rare opportunity to see an Ameriflight aircraft that had not been converted to cargo, we flew passengers on it as private charter).

In May of 2016, I joined the Safety Department and am currently the Flight Safety Specialist. On a daily basis, I manage our ASAP program which includes processing ASAP reports, Incident and Fatigue reports and properly recording and managing those report with the upmost care.  I also manage the jumpseat program we have which includes managing MyIDTravel, ID90, CASS and the reciprocal agreements with other airlines. Additionally, I create content for our quarterly pilot meetings, quarterly instructor trend presentation, Lessons Learned, Safety Alerts among other tasks.

My job is always interesting because I get to be involved in many different departments and get exposure to different parts of the business. I love learning new tasks and providing help and input when and where I can.

This company is not just a job for me, it’s a family. I enjoy working alongside all my fellow teammates and have made lifelong relationships through Ameriflight.

 

Thanks for all that you do at Ameriflight, Greg! We’re proud to have you on our team. ✈️

 


 

 

Meet Alex Swan 👋👩‍✈️

“I was born in Belgium and grew up moving around the world until age 12, at which point we settled in Texas. I currently still live in central Texas with my husband, four-year-old daughter, and two doggies. When I’m not working, you can find me spending time with my family. We love being outside (hiking, mountain biking, swimming), are avid travelers, and enjoy camping trips when we can.

Alex after she bought her first airplane and flew it solo for the first time

Growing up, I changed my mind often when it came to my career goals. For many years I wanted to be an Air Force Pilot like my uncle; I’m still not quite sure what led me astray from that goal… I went to college to become an Anthropologist, but ended up becoming a Flight Attendant. I then took a two-year leave from my Flight Attendant job to go back and get my math degree and teaching certification, but the skies were calling and I ended up going back to working as a Flight Attendant!

I first became a Flight Attendant with Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) at age 21. In 2022, I took a leave of absence to attend ATP Flight School where I got all my ratings and spent some time working as a Flight Instructor. When I started at ATP, I heard about the United Aviate program and knew I wanted to be a part of it. I found out that Ameriflight was a partner airline of the program and as soon as I could, I began inquiring and asking questions about Ameriflight. I reached out to several pilots about their lives, work, all the things, and set my goal to come here one day! I’ve since then kept in touch with the pilots that I reached out to. They have all mentored me and helped me get here! As soon as I hit 500 hours, I applied and was fortunately given a job offer. 

Alex and Captain Jennifer Anderson loading cargo into the SAAB340

I was hired at Ameriflight in November of 2022 as a First Officer on the SAAB340 in the ESCS (Charter) Department. A typical day for me starts out with meeting the Captain, discussing our trip (if we have one), weather, and routes. If we haven’t yet been assigned a trip, we go out to preflight the airplane and discuss aircraft stuff.  If we do have a trip, we will fly out to our first location to pick up cargo. Once all the cargo is loaded (in the ESCS Department, we load the cargo💪) we fly to our next destination to drop it off. We are usually on the road Monday – Friday and stay in lots of adorable little towns. I’ve been able to see so many tiny American gems in the months that I’ve been at Ameriflight! One of my favorites was Carrolton, GA where we hiked and explored the town.

One thing I find interesting about my job is learning about weather and navigating around and through it. It’s also interesting to learn and note how the seasoned Captains I fly with assess weather, what risks they are willing to take/not take, etc.

I’ve very much enjoyed my time at Ameriflight so far – learning from seasoned Captains and getting to explore the US. My goal is to one day return to United Airlines as a pilot and fly international routes with my former colleagues!”

 

Thanks for all that you do at Ameriflight, Alex! We’re proud to have you on our team. ✈️

 


 

Meet Ryan Barrett 👋😎

“I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and now I live in Dallas, Texas with my best friend Alex, my eight-year-old Godson, Josh, and a big Mastiff/Sharpe named Maggie. In a previous life I spent six years between Armed Security and Corrections in the county jail. I figured I didn’t want a long career in Corrections because I live my life to stay out of jail, why would I want to work in one. I quit and went to flight school. I later become a flight instructor for AeroGuard in Georgetown, TX.

In September of 2022, I was hired at Ameriflight. Currently, I teach the InDoc class every month for all the incoming pilots. One fun thing I like to do with every class is take them to Hard 8  BBQ for a taste of Texas. It’s one of my personal favorites and yes, Grant Bradshaw, it is amazing BBQ. Aside from InDoc, I also teach in the BE99 simulator in Denver, CO. When I’m not instructing, I fly VFR routes out of Phoenix. As you can imagine, I travel a lot! I have a passion for instructing. I enjoy seeing people succeed in their goals and if I am able to help them get there, then I am fulfilled. 

One of my favorite memories at Ameriflight was doing my first week of Operational Experience (OE) in Omaha, NE. I was able to spend an hour each night having dinner with my dad.

 

 

When I’m not working and find time, I like to partake in one of my many adventurous hobbies. I have a passion for Scuba Diving and am curretnly advanced rated. Before leaving my job at the county jail, I had a choice of becoming a pilot or moving to Roatan, Honduras (a dive haven, I’ve been twice!) and becoming a Scuba instructor. I decided on becoming a pilot, I figure I can do the latter in retirement. I also enjoy hiking, skiing, and chilling by my pool with a cold margarita. 

I’m excited to continue my journey at Ameriflight and look forward to fulfilling my goals of become a BE99 flight instructor and eventually upgrading to the BE1900.”

 

We’re proud to have you on our team, Ryan! Keep up the good work 👍

 

 


 

Meet Tala Taloa 👋👨‍🔧

Tala is a Maintenance Technician at our PHX base and has been with us for almost five years.

“I was born and raised in the Kingdom of Tonga and have been working as a A&P Mechanic for 19 years. My first job was with SkyWest Airlines, but I have worked at FBOs, flight schools, and  private, corporate and regional airlines. In 2018, I was hired at Ameriflight. My friend Suhas told me about an opening and so I applied. Since working here, I have made a lot great of memories and have met some amazing coworkers and connections that will last a lifetime.

I just recently had a kidney transplant and am blessed to have a second chance at life. I’m grateful for all the support from my friends and family and for my donor and the sacrifice she went through to give me one of her kidneys. I’m doing well and looking forward to growing and expanding with Ameriflight. When I’m not working, you can find me spending time with my three wonderful children.”

 

 

Tala was nominated for this feature by coworker and friend, Suhas Kale. Suhas and Tala worked together in PHX before Suhas joined our Safety Department in DFW. Here’s what Suhas has to say about Tala:

 

Tala as the best man at Suhas’ wedding

“I met Tala at my previous job at a flight school in 2015. Our first interaction was defueling an aircraft together. I was working an overtime shift, and the supervisor on that shift tagged me with Tala for the defuel procedure. I thought that this guy was one of the most positive people around, and it was contagious. If you put Tala in a room with 10 pessimists, at least 7 of them are going to walk out feeling refreshed, grateful, energized, motivated and super positive! About 8 months into me working at Ameriflight, I told him there is an opening for a MX position here and he joined us then.

Tala gets along with literally EVERYONE (I’m not kidding). Everyone in PHX can attest to this and can vouch for the amazing energy that he brings to the workplace. He is a great mechanic. He has 15+ years of MX experience. He is quick with his hands, and on the floor, he is constantly asking guys if they need an extra set of hands for anything. He won’t stop until he gets it done. 

Tala was the best man at my wedding, he’s been there for me in times of need, and is someone I can trust whole heartedly. I can write a book about Tala, he has some amazing and unique qualities!” – Suhas Kale

 

 

 

 


 

 

Meet Michael Takeda 👋👨‍✈️

Michael is an EMB120 First Officer in our ESCS (Charter) Department based in DFW. He’s always had a passion for aviation which is what led him to where he is today. Check out his aviation story!

 

“I grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC, but I have lived all over the country – Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and the New England area. I was the first person in my family to enter the world of aviation. I’ve always been fascinated by airplanes and how they work, and as a child I wanted to be an engineer who designed them but also fly for fun on the side. Somewhere along the way, I realized I could fly for a living and here I am!

Before really getting into flying, I worked for Delta Airlines as a Regional Security Manager in Atlanta, GA. I eventually began flying on the side and building my fight time as a Flight Instructor. It took me about a year of instructing and flying on the side to meet all the qualifications for a First Officer position at Ameriflight. Once I heard of an opening, I applied and was hired into the August 2022 InDoc class. I currently fly in the Expedited Supply Chain Solutions (ESCS) department based in DFW, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning.

 

Every day in the ESCS Department is a bit different. The first thing I do is check-in and determine if we have been assigned a trip. Most of the time we have a “go now trip” which means we must depart as soon as possible to pick up cargo/goods for delivery and transport. If we have been assigned a trip, I will first check-in with the captain. Then, I’ll go to the ramp to begin my preflight while my Captain does the paperwork and flight planning.

Once the preflight is done and the captain has all the trip details, we depart to pick up cargo and begin the trip. Crew members in ESCS are required to load and unload cargo. Cargo can range from car parts to medical goods, HAZMAT, and much more. Depending on the load and length of the duty day, we will either return to DFW or spend the night in the town the cargo was delivered to. 

Every trip is different in ESCS and we go all over the U.S. and Mexico. I’ve been on trips to San Diego, CA, and Niagara Falls (one of my favorites), and I have also been as far south as Mexico City, Mexico. When I’m not working, you can find me traveling around to visit family and friends or hiking / paddleboarding wherever I can find a cool lake or pond.

I’ve enjoyed my time at Ameriflight so far, and look forward to more adventures.” 

We’re proud to have you on our team, Michael! Keep up the good work 👍

 


 

Meet Khurram Hussain 👋

He’s a SA227 Captain and Pilot Supervisor based in ELP and part of our ESCS (Charter) Department. His passion and love for aviation has given him a unique career in aviation – check out his story!

 

“I grew up in London and am the eldest of five children. My father worked in Air Cargo and my mother worked part-time at our local elementary school. Out of five kids, three of us entered the airline/logistics world, but I’m the only pilot (something about an apple and a tree…)

United Airlines Flight Attendant

Even though we lived in central London far from an airport, I had a passion for aviation. My teachers would complain to my parents that I would doodle airplanes all day long. When I was finishing junior high, we moved closer to Heathrow Airport where my father worked, and it was game over! I became an airplane junky; I worked around aviation as much as I could, from retail, to cargo, airline security and more. Then I finally landed my first airline job as a flight attendant with United Airlines based in London and Los Angeles, CA.

Khurram and his wife during their time as United Airlines flight attendants together

I spent a few decades as a flight attendant, and during that time, I wore many hats from purser (chief flight attendant), to trainer, and even new hire mentor. The best part was globetrotting to new and old places with my wife, who was and still is a flight attendant for United. We can’t wait to resume our travels! But despite all the fun adventure, my passion was still awaiting me on the other side of the cockpit door. 

I was doing my time building and training whilst working as a flight attendant anywhere I could – London, Oklahoma, Florida and around Los Angeles.  I was ready to transition just as 9/11 happened, so I settled down as flight attendant, got married, and 20 years later under the guidance of my mentor and the support of my wife I finished off my ratings. I was offered a buyout and at the same time applied to the United Aviate program and here I am. Some might say I was at the right place at the right time.

Making memories with fellow Ameriflight pilot, Captain Raymond Pruitt

In May of 2021, I interviewed for the United Aviate program and soon after, I was offered a position with Ameriflight as a First Officer on the Metroliner, based in El Paso, TX.  I started InDoc in August of 2021 and eight months later, I upgraded to Captain on the BE99 based in BUR. Later that year in September, I transitioned back to the SA227, but this time in the left seat. I’m based in ELP, which is one of our main ESCS (Charter) department bases. Earlier this year, I accepted the Pilot Supervisor position at the ELP base.

As an ESCS Captain, each flight is like a different project and no two days are the same. Each day requires a lot of planning (fuel, routes, etc.) to ensure the cargo gets to the customer on time. I’ve enjoyed flying into new places, spending time with fellow coworkers and making connections that will last a lifetime. There are so many memories made here!”

 

Thanks for all that you do at Ameriflight, Khurram! We’re proud to have you on our team. ✈️