Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Freddy Mendoza

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, observed every year from September 15 – October 15, InsideAtlas will highlight our Hispanic colleagues who share how their culture has shaped them. Today we introduce you to Federico ‘Freddy’ Mendoza.  

What is your current title and how long have you been at Atlas?

I am a Captain and Line Check pilot on the 747. I celebrated 11 years with the Company in April.

What are your primary responsibilities in your role at Atlas and what is your favorite part about the job?

A line check in aviation is a pilot’s final exam, or skill test.

As a check pilot, I am entrusted to carry out SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) amongst the pilot workforce by conducting Annual Line Checks for Captains and train new hires through OE (Operating Experience) so they can be line qualified pilots and begin assisting the Company with future flight requirements for our customers. Atlas Air entrusts me to be an ambassador for their brand wherever I go, and I take that seriously.

My favorite part about this role is when a new hire figures out how to safely operate and land this jumbo plane and can be officially released from training.

How did you find Atlas?

I flew heavies (bomber, cargo and tanker aircraft with a takeoff weight of at least 300,000 pounds) in the United States Air Force. I became quite familiar with the brand as I often saw Atlas planes on the airfields I was on. I had a friend at the Company who helped me get my resume in front of the right people and fast forward to today, Atlas is the only airline I’ve been with, outside of the military.

What do you like best about working at here?

The extensive variety of flying Atlas does is fantastic. That’s been so interesting. Also, given my background, I have found the military charters to be very rewarding. I’ve done a wide range of military movements, including our first B747 charter into Bosnia, several CRAF missions and most recently, I flew relief supplies to provide assistance to Ukraine. Having the privilege to fly several of my military colleagues has been a bit surreal to take on while wearing a new and different uniform.

How did you find your way into aviation? What prompted you to consider aviation as a career?

Growing up, I was a military brat. My father was in the United States Army, and we went to air shows a lot. It was quite easy to become infatuated with airplanes and the idea of flying them. My dad put me in touch with some pilots to learn more about aviation and I eventually received an ROTC scholarship, which enabled me to compete for a Pilot slot in the Air Force. I was awarded a slot in 1997 and flew with them until my retirement in 2020 as a Lt Colonel.

What is the best part about working in aviation?

Having a unique job that takes extreme focus and technical skills.  I am proud to be a role model for children who might think a particular career is unattainable because it looks “hard.” I want to give children, including my own, hope and direction that they too can do hard jobs, like flying aircraft.

Please tell us about your Hispanic heritage and how your culture inspires you?

I am Mexican American and one of approximately 50 first cousins with over 30 Tios and Tias. This translates into a huge melting pot of experience, values and morals. Being surrounded by all of these family members as a child provided me with so much to draw upon and be inspired by.

If I were to describe my culture or my family in one or two words, I would say’ hard working.’ We don’t look for excuses – we recognize that it takes work to get something accomplished. My family includes farmers, teachers, law enforcement officers and members of the military. Everyone rose through the ranks from the bottom up. And it took a lot of hard work.

I am the first pilot in my family. I drew inspiration from my family and their achievements – it helped me keep my dream alive. This has been my focus with my daughters to reach for the stars. They see all the dedication involved with my career and how hard it has been to attain. I only hope it will inspire them to be even bolder in their aspirations for life.

Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and the values instilled in you.

Family is everything. As I mentioned I’m part of a very large, extended family. It was the village model that raised me and kept me on the right path. Today, although we’re a bit more spread out, family gatherings remain very important, and we try to get together as much as possible. My daughters are always amazed by how large our family is. They love their cousins, like I do mine.

There’s a lot of love, support and pride from my family that continues to motivate me to be better than I was the day before and not to give up. Following this support, I try and give back to others as much as possible.

What would your colleagues be most surprised to learn about you?

I consider myself an open book, so I’m not sure if there are too many surprises left. I am a big comic book nerd – Batman is my favorite – and I’m an extreme fan of the 80s. Those were simpler times. When it comes to music, TV, movies, or cartoons, I tend to gravitate towards those from the 80s. It puts a big smile on my face – cue “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey and I dare you not to smile! Just ask my daughters who are forced to relive all my ‘80s nostalgic memories.