Celebrating Black History Month: An Interview with O’Neil Hyatt

Black History Month is an annual celebration that highlights the accomplishments of the Black and African Americans community and acknowledges their pivotal role in shaping U.S. history. Throughout February, as part of our observance of Black History Month, Tailwinds will be featuring the stories of our Black colleagues throughout the Company. This week, we invite you to get to meet O’Neil Hyatt.

O’Neil Hyatt, Atlas Air Loadmaster

Tell us about your journey to Atlas. How did you get here and how long have you been at the Company?

My journey to Atlas started in 2007, when I was working on 747 freighters for Evergreen Eagle and an industry colleague suggested that I apply to be a Flying Loadmaster with Southern Air. I was hired and over the next seven years with Southern Air, I learned how to overcome all kinds of challenges that can arise through loading and offloading 777 and 747 freighters. When Atlas bought Southern Air, I had an opportunity to return home to my family, so here I am today, working as a Loadmaster for the best and greatest freighter company in the United States – Atlas Air.

What is your favorite part about working in aviation? And, what is your favorite part about your job?

My favorite part of working in aviation is that no two days are the same. And it’s never boring – there are a myriad of challenges on a daily basis – from oversize freight, floating Unit Load Devices (ULD) and much more. When it comes to my job, I love the challenge of figuring out how to position the ULDs to balance out the aircraft.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? When in doubt, always ask questions. And when it comes to inspecting the aircraft, be thorough and keep safety top of mind. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in aviation? Learn everything that is related to your job, and then learn all you can about the aircraft and the people that service the aircraft. What are some things you’re passionate about? Being able to share my knowledge with loadmasters and ground staff that are just starting out with Atlas. What does Black History Month mean to you? Black History Month is every month to me, I am always promoting self-respect and respect for all. What do you love most about working at Atlas?

The collegial atmosphere that JFK management has cultivated for me, and my colleagues is fantastic. Management is always promoting teamwork. The work we do is stressful and knowing that I can count on my team for support is very reassuring. At JFK, I know and believe, it takes a team.