Celebrating Black History Month: An Interview with Edgar Clinton

Edgar Clinton

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

I am a Senior Maintenance Controller and I have been with Atlas for ten years.

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

As a Maintenance Controller, my primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of Atlas’ aircraft. I provide assistance to the field technicians by way of reviewing technical manuals and parts, and with my knowledge of the functionality of aircraft systems. I also coordinate with other departments to ensure a safe, on-time departure for our aircraft. My favorite part of the job is being able to troubleshoot and resolve various issues with the aircraft system.

How did you find Atlas?

Edgar on-site at the Company’s CVG location.

I was referred to Atlas by Anastasio Mongalo, who is currently Manager of 747 Flight Maintenance. We’ve known each other for many years and have worked together at various aviation companies, dating back to 1996. Shortly after he started working at Atlas, he reached out to me. We always seem to follow each other!

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

During my first year of high school, I had the opportunity to explore several vocational programs. During this time, one of my instructors, Mr. Jackson, was working at Eastern Airlines. Mr. Jackson was also Black and he became both my mentor and advocate. He is largely responsible for my decision to pursue a career in aviation. After listening to him explain the ins and outs of the aviation industry, I was hooked. My decision was made and I’ve never looked back.

What does Black History Month mean to you? Why is it important?

To me, Black History Month is an important time to celebrate and acknowledge the significant contributions the Black community has made to our country. It’s an opportunity to recognize those who have come before us and paved the way. It’s also a time to celebrate those who are continuing to build on that legacy today, while acknowledging that there’s still progress to be made.

Does anyone or anything come to mind when you think of the contributions made by the Black community throughout American history?

The Black community has made many invaluable contributions to our country.  Since I have worked in aviation all of my adult life, I have immense respect for the Tuskegee Airmen, who fought for our country in World War II, despite the racism and prejudice they faced. They are considered to be the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces, and learning about them gave hope to many people like myself that we could also pursue a career in aviation.

Edgar poses in France on a family vacation.

Who do you consider to be the strong Black leaders of today who are currently making history, and how have they impacted you?

A strong Black leader that immediately comes to mind for me is Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. I also admire Victor Glover, the first Black astronaut to live on the International Space Station (ISS). While their stories may not have a direct impact on my life, their accomplishments inspire me and they will continue to inspire Black boys and girls for generations to come, teaching them that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

What is your advice to young Black professionals considering aviation as a career?

My advice to young Black professionals considering a career in aviation is to believe in yourself and to not be distracted by the naysayers. I would also tell them to not be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up. When I first began working in aviation, I  took what some would consider to be the lowliest of jobs, but I knew that I would not have to stay there forever. I used those opportunities to learn and perfect my craft, and now I hold a senior position.

What does having a diverse workforce mean to you?

To me, having a diverse workforce means seeing people of all races and ethnicities in various positions throughout a company. This representation is crucial for morale and to foster a sense of belonging among everyone. When I first started in the aviation industry, people of color were often only associated with certain types of roles. I am glad that is changing.

Touring the Flins Renault Factory in France.

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

When I’m at work, I tend to be quite serious. Therefore, I think my colleagues would be most surprised to learn how much I enjoy relaxing at home, listening to music or having a good laugh while watching a comedy movie. Additionally, I have a passion for cars and their mechanics. I learned about basic aircraft mechanical theories when I was in high school. At night, I would put those theories into practice by assisting a local auto mechanic. This early experience helped me hone my technical abilities, which I use every day in my role at Atlas.