Women’s History Month: An Interview with 737 First Officer Vivian Cordero

737 First Officer Vivian Cordero

What sparked your interest in aviation?

My family’s ties to the military are strong – my grandfather was in the Army and served in Vietnam and my stepfather, aunt and uncle were all Navy. My stepfather, was actually a Navy pilot and he was the one who took me to see the movie, Top Gun, which had a great impact on me. Growing up in a family that was mostly military inspired me to serve, while doing what I was passionate about (aviation).

International Women’s Day (IWD) is recognized annually on March 8 and is a global holiday celebrating the economic, political, cultural and social achievements of women. What does IWD mean to you? Why do you think it’s important to celebrate IWD?

It is important to acknowledge the many obstacles women have had to overcome in the last century to start making progress towards gender equality. Most people don’t know that when women won the right to vote in 1919, it took over 70 years to ratify. The Equal Rights Amendment, which is designed to provide legal rights for all regardless of sex, has yet to be ratified. As of today, it has only been ratified by 38 states. It wasn’t until 1973 when the first American woman was hired at a major U.S. airline, which coincidently, was the same year the U.S. Navy accepted the first class of six female naval aviators. Fast forward to this year’s Super Bowl, where the flyover was the first to consist of all female pilots. Progress has been made, but there is still much to be done.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?

To me, the term Embrace is synonymous with Acceptance. Women in the workplace have yet not been truly embraced, or accepted, as they are still not being afforded the same opportunities and benefits as our male counterparts. The saying goes “Acceptance is half the battle.”  While there have been scattered victories in the last centuries, equality for women has not yet been won.

That said, we have come a long way and women are fortunate that in certain industries there are set pays scales, such as pilots under contract and in the military. Unfortunately there are countless women in varying workplaces who do not enjoy those same circumstances.

What woman has positively impacted/inspired you in your career and what’s one lesson she taught you?

Vivian in the cockpit.

The woman who has had the most impact on me was my first female instructor in Navy Flight School. We were introduced about seven years earlier when I was in college, and she was in her first operational squadron flying the P-3C Orion. She mentored me through college and flight school and the timing worked out that she was the very person to teach me how to fly the P-3C. Her sense of purpose, empathy, and sheer passion is extremely unique and it is a great example for me – these are the qualities that I want to embrace as both a pilot and a leader. She leads by example, but with an extraordinary level of kindness and understanding that enables her to draw out the best in anyone with whom she interacts. We have become lifelong friends and she is like a sister to me. 

At Atlas, we are proud of our culture of inclusive diversity, and we are committed to making even further progress to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the workplace. How can we get more girls interested in aviation? 

In order to get more girls interested in aviation, it’s important to start interacting with them as early as the middle school through career days and scholarship opportunities that provide monetary assistance for flight training. The outreach must also include inner city schools, because often girls in these communities are not aware of aviation as a career possibility.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message or piece of advice you want to send out to young women?

There are still so few of us in aviation. We have been underrepresented for a very long time. In the United States, women make up just under six percent of the pilot population. It is so important that women always remember to support one another and work together to continue the fight for full equality.

We will never be fully equal in the workplace until we have the same opportunities, legal rights, and benefits as men. We need to work together to achieve that.

Atlas’ Ongoing Support of K9s For Warriors Makes a Difference in the Lives of Military Veterans

Titan with his Warrior Thomas.

Atlas has a long-standing and proud partnership with K9s For Warriors, the nation’s largest provider of trained Service Dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. Last year, the Company’s first sponsored Service Dog, Atlas, graduated the program and was matched with his Warrior, U.S. Army Veteran, Zoe.

Thomas and Titan head out on a mini golf outing.

In January, we announced that the Company sponsored two more dogs, Titan and Polar, who were currently in training and would be matched with a Warrior upon graduation.

We are happy to report that Titan graduated from his training program on January 26 and has been matched with his Warrior, Thomas, a U.S. Army veteran from Tennessee.

Thomas served in the Army as a combat medic for 15 years and shared with us that although the job was incredibly rewarding, the exposure to unprocessed trauma led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and a loss of self-worth.

Titan enjoying a day out with his Warrior.

He explained, “I applied to K9s For Warriors because I wasn’t sure what else could be done to help me. I tried medications, went to countless therapists, and had essentially withdrawn from living a normal life by giving up friendships and even sacrificing some of my relationships with my family. The final straw was the seemingly never-ending battle with suicidal ideation and feelings of worthlessness that led me to withdraw from those who I love the most, my wife and sons. I truly believed they would be better off without me.”

Thomas and Titan at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Although it’s only been a month since being matched, Titan and Thomas are well on their way to building a strong bond and have enjoyed outings that have included mini golf and the Jacksonville Zoo.

When asked how K9s For Warriors and Titan specifically have already made an impact, Thomas said “Titan has brought me an inner peace that I haven’t felt for some time. He has given me hope that I can get my life back.”

Gary Wade, Senior Vice President, Security attended Titan’s graduation and met both Thomas and Titan.

Thomas and Titan with Atlas’ Gary Wade.

“Thomas was so grateful to Atlas for sponsoring Titan,” said Gary. “I’m so glad I had a chance to meet them both and I look forward to seeing Thomas and Titan in September at the Atlas Air Worldwide Charity Golf Tournament.”

“K9s For Warriors is an incredible organization to work with, not only helping me get paired with a Service Dog, but also showing me what doors having a Service Dog can open back up for me,” said Thomas. “The opportunity to be paired with a Service Dog as a veteran who suffers from PTSD allows me to not only resume parts of my life that I had given up on but to also pursue happiness again. Since Titan has entered my life, I find myself laughing more, engaging with people that I did not previously engage with, and spending more time in public than I have in years.”

Thomas added, “I didn’t think that it was possible to build such a strong bond with Titan in such a short amount of time but I was wrong. He truly has given me a new lease on life and being part of the K9s For Warriors family not only gives me strength to be the person that I want to be but gives me hope that I can be the person that I once was before.”

Polar, Atlas’s third Service Dog, is currently in training and will be matched with his own Warrior later this year. Watch this space for more updates!

737 First Officer Danielle Jones

What sparked your interest in aviation?

When I was a kid I went on my first flight as a passenger for a family event. I was so amazed by the size of the aircraft and I couldn’t stop staring out of the window the entire time. The clouds were so beautiful, the turbulence was so much fun, and the crew was so nice. I just knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 

International Women’s Day (IWD) is recognized annually on March 8 and is a global holiday celebrating the economic, political, cultural and social achievements of women. What does IWD mean to you? Why do you think it’s important to celebrate IWD?

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate and recognize all the achievements and sacrifices women have made over the years. It’s a chance for young ladies to see women in incredible positions doing incredible things to inspire and encourage them to reach their goals. There have been many inventions, scientific advancements, and record breaking achievements made by women that have often been hidden by history and kept out of educational systems. It’s amazing to be a part of the educating so others can have the same opportunities and know that it is possible to follow their dreams.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?

Being a young African American, Japanese woman, I have realized that I have the same opportunities as anyone else, regardless of my age, gender, and race. Equity means being fair and impartial and I am fortunate to have exactly that.

What woman has positively impacted/inspired you in your career, and what’s one lesson she taught you?

My Grandmother came to the U.S. from Japan, learned English on her own, and raised five kids by herself. She always told us, it doesn’t matter what job you have, you always work hard and do your best because at the end of the day, you can look in the mirror and know that you did your best and you have your own self achievement. Knowing this helps get you through any hard work day. I have worked every job since then, including, farming, landscaping, child care, cashier, sale associate, flight instructing, and now airline pilot, with this in mind. With every one of those opportunities I’ve reached my achievements, got the raise or promotion, learned a new skill and went home feeling accomplished.

At Atlas, we are proud of our culture of inclusive diversity, and we are committed to making even further progress to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the workplace. How can we get more girls interested in aviation?

I think that it comes down to educating and advertising women in aviation to other women. In very basic terms, “normalizing” females as aviators. For a long time, most people thought of aviation as a male-dominated career. Showing people that there are many female aviators of all races and ages, allows room for growth and accepting that it is perfectly okay to be a female in aviation. Let’s make this the new normal.

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.

Representatives from Boeing, Apex Logistics, Atlas and Kuehne+Nagel took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The final Queen of the Skies returned to Boeing last week to mark her official delivery to Apex Logistics, a Kuehne+Nagel company. This historic aircraft is the second 747-8F delivery as part of our long-term strategic partnership with Kuehne+Nagel.

“We were delighted to celebrate this great occasion with our valued partners at Apex Logistics and Kuehne+Nagel,” said John Dietrich. “The name of this aircraft – ‘Empower.’ – says it all. It reflects the strength of our partnership with Apex and Kuehne+Nagel, and affirms the bright future we will have together – as this Queen of the Skies begins serving customers for years to come.”

(L-R) Elsie Qian, Tony Song and Michael Steen.

Michael Steen added, “It was wonderful to gather not only with our partners across the Apex Logistics and Kuehne+Nagel teams, but with their customers as well, given the important role we play in their respective supply chains.”

He continued, “We look forward to providing high quality airfreight solutions for the customers of Apex Logistics and Kuehne+Nagel, as well as growing together responsibly for the future.”

Clockwise from top left: Captains Elena Robson, Greg Samson, Bob Ulrich and Tom Swanson piloted the plane from Paine Airfield to Anchorage.

The delivery ceremony included the traditional ribbon cutting and the presentation of keys – the final set of 747 keys to ever be produced – to Elsie Qian, CEO, Apex Americas and Tony Song, Group CEO, Apex Logistics.

The very next day at 9:00 a.m. local time, the final 747 departed for her first revenue flight. Atlas Air’s four most senior pilots – Captains Elena Robson, Greg Samson, Bob Ulrich and Tom Swanson – flew the plane from Paine Airfield to Anchorage. The father and son team of Erik Alba, Senior Manager, Standards and Procedures, and Miguel Alba, Load Control Agent, provided Ground Ops support.

Miguel Alba and Erik Alba.

Atlas Air and Turkish Airlines, along with the Turkish Embassy, partner to carry tons of relief supplies to earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria on an Atlas Air 747-8F that departed Washington Dulles International Airport.

Last week, Atlas Air announced that a 747-8F departed from Washington Dulles International Airport carrying tons of humanitarian and relief supplies for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

The two companies, along with the Turkish Embassy, are working together to expedite this relief mission to support the critical needs of thousands of people impacted by this natural disaster. Atlas Air is providing the aircraft and crew and Turkish Airlines is collecting clothes, shoes, medical supplies and other essentials.

“Through our partnership with Turkish Airlines, we are honored to contribute air freight capacity to deliver critical supplies to this region where they are needed the most,” said John Dietrich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Air Worldwide. “We are moved by the heroic work of first responders and humanitarian organizations to provide relief to the communities impacted by this natural disaster.  On behalf of our 5,000 Atlas employees around the world, we are grateful for this opportunity to show our support.”

Every year, Atlas ships over five million kilos of flowers, making the journey from farms to consumers.

Today is Valentine’s Day in the U.S. and many other countries around the world. Chances are, if you sent or received a bouquet today, those flowers were flown in from Colombia and Ecuador and likely on an Atlas Air Boeing 747 freighter. In advance of the holiday, Atlas Air imported 5,370,146 kilos of fresh cut flowers to Miami International Airport (MIA) on 74 flights – 40 flights from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) in Colombia and 34 flights from Mariscal Sucre de Quito International Airport (UIO) in Ecuador between January 20 and February 8. All on the B747F.

Since MIA ranks first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of fresh cut flowers, Atlas expanded the cooler facility there by an additional 20,000 square feet for a total of 76,000 square feet of cooler capacity to meet the demand. With this expansion, Atlas Air can now simultaneously handle up to four B747F flights of flowers. The cooler in MIA now has a total of 26 doors to deliver flowers to our customers, and a total of 6 AOA (Ramp doors) to bring Unit Loading Devices (ULDs) with flowers directly to the cooler from the airplane.

Lucas Vargas, MIA Station Manager, notes how the expansion has benefitted Atlas’ operation, and the tremendous team effort that made it possible.

Pallets of fresh flowers are loaded onto an Atlas B747F at MIA.

“In previous years, our main constraint was space, but this expansion has enabled us to handle the high volume of flowers that we move,” said Lucas. “This means a better experience for our customers and upholds our commitment to exceptional customer service.

He continued, “It was really a huge team effort across Ground Ops, Flight Ops and Tech Ops, and our vendor, Worldwide Flight Services (WFS). Once we launched the expansion, everyone came together to brainstorm how we can handle the freight better, how we can improve the process flow and/or mitigate any issues. It’s already a strong season, but for me, it’s been successful because everyone came together to find the best solutions for our customers.”

Check out this video taken at Miami International Airport (MIA).

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

I am Senior Manager, Accounts Payable in Corporate Accounting and I have been with Atlas for 16 years.

Elaine Gardner.

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

I support the Company’s finance and accounting operational functions. My main responsibilities are, but not limited to, managing our supplier invoice and payment processing, reporting, auditing as well as ensuring we are in compliance with the Company’s policies. My favorite part of the job is exploring ways to optimize our processes, reduce inefficiencies, and ensure our suppliers are having a positive experience with the different options provided to enhance the invoice and payment process. I also enjoy finding ways to further strengthen the talent of my team, which I believe is one of the attributes as a great leader.

How did you find Atlas? What interested you most about working for the Company?

A recruiter introduced me to Atlas and during the interview process, interestingly; I learned that Atlas was implementing an e-invoice system, which I was previously exploring. I recognized that Atlas would be a great opportunity for me to grow professionally and make a difference in terms of improving the accounting processes, while advancing my career.

What do you like most about working in aviation?

I think that aviation offers a more fast-paced environment than other industries, and I appreciate that. There is always something different and exciting to experience! I have also enjoyed learning about the industry – there are so many different roles involved in delivering for our customers and moving cargo throughout the world.

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

Black History Month is so important because it calls attention to, and celebrates, the many contributions African American men and women have made to the United States. These contributions must be taught, understood and embraced by all. It is important to recognize that the fabric of this country has been made by all –and Black Americans have played a major role; Black history is not a month, it is centuries of achievement against adversity.

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

Many people were visionaries and paved the way for the Black community. In terms of historic figures, I immediately think of Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, who were so brave and used their voice to take a stand and make a difference. There are also a number of athletes, such as Muhammed Ali, Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, who I think should be commended for the barriers they overcame to triumph in their sports. When you also think of the contributions my community made, you cannot deny how sports have been influenced by the plethora of our African American athletes. I take such inspiration from all of them.

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

Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States. She is an attorney, an author, a mother and a wife. She is an incredible role model and has done so much to support military families, encourage healthy eating and living for children and families and promote higher education. Michelle Obama is making a difference in so many ways, yet she is still so relatable. She really gives me hope and makes me proud.

What is your advice to young Black professionals who are considering their career options?

Do your research! Make sure whatever career path you choose, it is enjoyable, and rewarding. It is not always about the money, it is about being passionate about what you are doing. I also think it is important to pursue career path that will give you an opportunity to make a positive difference.

What does having a diverse workforce mean to you?

A truly diverse workforce is one where every voice is heard and everyone is recognized, understood, and appreciated for their contributions. I think Verna Myers’ quote sums it up: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

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

I think my colleagues would be surprised to learn that I have a twin brother. My personality can be described as an ambivert.

Richard Major

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

Manager, Finance Systems Support. I have been with Atlas a total of nine years.

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

My role and responsibilities include the support of key financial systems such as JD Edwards, Blackline, iPayables, Kyriba, and a host of other finance modules Corporate Accounting and other areas of the business rely on for management of Atlas’ financial data.

My director Joanna Mata and my colleagues have formed a symbiosis that enables each of us to grow, learn and support each other. This structure allows me to provide the key support Corporate Accounting (in both the U.S. and overseas) requires to run the business successfully.

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

Information technology and aviation are clearly business partners with one goal in mind: keep the planes in the air and ensure every aircraft returns home with all souls accounted for and safe.  Technology is a strategic partner in the airline industry. Aviation, to thrive and grow, must adapt and employ the best technological advancements available.

My career in technology lead me to aviation in 2007 while living in Los Angeles, California, I secured an opportunity with one of the many vendors Atlas Air works with for aircraft parts and maintenance. This is when the door opened, and I recognized aerospace is a large sector with unlimited potential. It has been an incredible journey thus far.

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

Black history is American history and as a person of color, it offers the long overdue acknowledgement of the many contributions African (Black) Americans have provided not only for the people of the United States of America but for the world!

History shows that we as a people were enslaved, treated cruelly at levels of depravity that were and would be considered war crimes. Yet my ancestors endured, thrived, adapted to their new world, and built upon it a foundation that today continues to show this country and the world we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and we will be the pillars of those who come after.

Black history is not a month, it is centuries of achievement against adversity. I do not recognize a month; I recognize a legacy over 400 hundred years. I see it every day, hear it everywhere, feel it with every beat of my heart, taste it in every meal my partner Helena prepares with her Caribbean flair and style, embrace it deep in my soul and remember it all for my family and all the people I value and love.

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

There probably isn’t a single person that I feel offered more than others, even when great leaders have emerged like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr or Malcom X and were sacrificed to become martyrs. None were greater than the sum of the people who stood at their side, endured their pain and had to bear their loss. These are the heroes, the silent partners, who were the witness of, and the ones left alone to hold on to a memory of cruel loss.  

My heroes are every son, daughter, wife, mother and father who lost someone in a war for equality, a right no one should have to ask for or demand in this country.

Mamie Till, if I must put a name to it, is legendary in my mind, I have no other words to express how deeply the loss of her son Emmett Till, long before I was born and able to understand it, impacted me. Yet, she showed the people of the United States and the world how cruelty and pain must be met with dignity and that the fight for justice must continue, even if that day would never be seen.

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

I have my eyes on Wes Moore, the Governor of Maryland; he may very well be the next president of the United States in a few years. He has the “it” factor; he is an incredible orator and is thoughtful and brilliant with unlimited potential.

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

Absolutely do it! Find your niche in this sector, be it ground, crew or a hybrid function, and grab the opportunity and run with it.

What does having a diverse workforce mean to you?

I work in one of the most diverse groups of Atlas Air – Information Technology. Led by Senior Vice President Richard Ross and Vice President Mike Pascullo, this team has demonstrated that leadership must lead the way and embrace diversity.  

When I joined Atlas Air in 2011, I was concerned that diversity in the workplace may not be strongly reflected, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong even then.  Diversity however, in its best form is not only multicultural at the staff level it must also be demonstrated at the senior levels of the company.

I believe Atlas is starting to make good progress in this area, especially with the introduction of the DEI Employee Council. That showed me that the Company was making a real commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace – in essence, putting meaningful action behind its words. I am so happy and proud to have participated in this effort.

In summary, diversity for me in the workforce means I can share my thoughts, embrace and welcome the views of others and always find common ground, as a team, to move forward and incorporate all opinions. Michelle Chabot, a colleague I truly admire, once said, “Diversity is not one voice, but rather a choir singing in harmony.”

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

Most are surprised that I am super friendly. I often hear that I am perceived as unapproachable and then when a colleague gets to know me, the confession follows that I initially appeared to be a bit cold and distant, and once they get to know me, they quickly realize, I am exactly the opposite. I get a kick out of that every time. Joanna Mata has shared that she initially thought I was polite but “not her cup of tea.” But soon she embraced me and we have been inseparable for many years. 

Captain Cyprian Honore.

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

I am a Captain on the B767 and based out of JFK. I’ve been with Atlas for eleven and a half years.

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

As captain, my primary role is the safe, regulatory compliant and efficient operation of the flight while maintaining scheduling integrity and passenger comfort.  My favorite part of this job is taking care of our men and women in uniform.

How did you find Atlas?

I was made aware of Atlas Air and its potential by a friend from college, Stanley O’Brien, who was working in maintenance at Atlas.

Cyprian Honore and Stanley O’Brien.

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

Growing up in Grenada, my stepdad was a licensed aircraft mechanic. He would come home after work with all of his manuals and he would talk about “drag” and “lift.” I was fascinated by what he did and at seven or eight years old, I knew I wanted to be in aviation someday. The road was long and it wasn’t easy, but I stayed the course. I received my Associate’s Degree in Avionics Technology at Vaughn College of Aeronautics, followed by a Bachelor’s Degree in Aircraft Maintenance; both of which served as a springboard to fund the completion of my flight training.

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

Black History Month, to me, is a period of reflection dedicated to the contributions of African Americans for a better quality of life for the wider society, as well as highlighting the need for a more equitable and just society. I had the opportunity on one of my trips, to tour the Island of Gorée,** “the door of no return,” in Senegal. That experience left an indelible mark on me, and it reinforced the critical need to commemorate Black History Month. I think about what we have overcome, and I am very proud. My great-grandmother was born in 1878, and although slavery had been abolished, conditions on the plantations were not much improved. So I am not that far removed from all of this, yet today I am flying airplanes. It’s pretty amazing.

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

I immediately think of Booker T. Washington, given the impact he had on the generational advancement of African Americans. He advocated and cultivated the spread of vocational schools and colleges for African Americans across the south. As president of Tuskegee University, Booker T. Washington showed oppressed people they could advance through education and becoming self-sufficient. I first learned about Booker T. Washington in primary school and his commitment to uplifting our race struck a chord and stayed with me over the years. When I’m not on the line and home in Grenada, I visit the primary school in the village where I grew up and speak to the children about the importance of education as a stepping stone to getting out of poverty and transforming one’s life. Black History Month has given me a calling – how do I assist the underserved in fulfilling their dreams?

Captain Honore in the cockpit.

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

Among today’s strong black leaders, Robert F. Smith, an investor, inventor, engineer, philanthropist and entrepreneur, is an outstanding example of someone who possesses both academic excellence and business savvy and a commitment to enhancing the lives of African Americans. In 2019, during his commencement address at Morehouse College – a historically Black Institution – he pledged to pay off the entire graduating class’ student loan debt. His gift helped almost 400 graduates. Another leader I admire is Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an American viral immunologist who was the team leader in the development of Moderna COVID vaccine.

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

Captain Honore with First Officers Monisha Lachiram and Harshaben (Harsha) Patel, both of whom are from India.

For young black professionals who are considering aviation as a career, education, networking with professionals in this field, and persistence will go a long way in ensuring a successful tenure in this noble field.

What does having a diverse workforce mean to you?

Having a diverse workforce is extremely important to me. Atlas Air is a striking example of such synergy. We are truly diverse, and I trust that this culture will continue.

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

Food from Captain Honore’s garden.

Just about everyone who has flown with me knows that I have passion for farming. I think it’s in my DNA. My grandfather was a farmer. I grow all my own food, as well as a wide variety of exotic roses.

** The island of Gorée lies off the coast of Senegal, opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast. It is estimated that 20 million African passed through the island between the mid-1500s and the mid-1800s. Today it serves as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation.

The final 747.

Thousands of people gathered at the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington on January 31 to mark a tremendous milestone in aviation history – the delivery of the final 747.  In attendance were current and former Boeing employees and leaders, customers, suppliers and relatives of company founder Bill Boeing; Joe Sutter, considered the “Father of the 747;” and the employees known as the “Incredibles,” who made the 747 dream a reality.

John Dietrich takes the stage to share remarks on Atlas taking delivery of the final 747.

“It’s an incredible honor for me to be here today for this milestone occasion in aviation history.  I’m very proud to represent the more than 5,000 employees of Atlas Air. We all share a deep admiration for today’s guest of honor – the awesome Queen of the Skies,” John Dietrich said. “To see our aircraft on this big stage is a very proud moment for all of us at Atlas. Our company’s history and success is directly linked to the 747 platform. Our founder, Michael Chowdry, launched Atlas Air over 30 years ago with a single 747-200 freighter. Since then, we became…and still are…the world’s largest operator of 747 aircraft. Over the years, we have spanned the globe with nearly every variant of the 747, operating more than 100 different tail numbers into more than 800 airports in over 170 countries.”

Following the procession of flags representing all carriers who have flown the 747, Atlas was the final flag carried by 747 Captain Tom Vize.

The event, hosted by Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, began with a processional of flags with customer logos in chronological order from the dates of their initial purchase of the 747. At the front of the line was Charles Trippe, the grandson of Juan Trippe, founder of Pan Am and the airplane’s first customer. Atlas Air 747 Fleet Captain Tom Vize carried the final flag, the Atlas flag, a bookend to the 747’s majestic run.

A number of speakers followed, reflecting on the transformative impact the iconic aircraft has had on commercial aviation for decades.

Former Boeing CEO Phil Condit was there, along with current CEO David Calhoun. Leaders from Lufthansa, UPS, Japan Airlines and Pratt & Whitney joined John in sharing commentary about the 747 program.

Actor and aviation enthusiast, John Travolta, who is licensed to fly the 707, 737 and 747 models, was also there. He said, “I had to be here in person. As a pilot, I know how great this plane is to fly.”

John Dietrich took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all involved in the transfer of the final 747.

John Dietrich and Stan Deal unveil the final 747.

“We’ve heard so many stories today about the 747’s impact. And as we take this final delivery, we look forward to the stories that are yet to be told,” said John. “Today we celebrate not an ending, but a beginning – the beginning of another exciting chapter driven by the mighty Queen of the Skies! Thank you to Boeing, our great customers and all of our employees!”

John and Stan met on stage for a dramatic reveal of the final 747 ever to be produced.

The final 747 features a special decal of Joe Sutter, considered to be the “Father of the 747.”

A custom split livery was designed for this aircraft, with the Atlas Air logo on the right side and tail of the aircraft and the Apex Logistics logo on the left side. To honor the legacy of this special 747, a decal is included to the right of the nose featuring Joe Sutter.

As he wrapped up his remarks, John said, “She is the biggest, baddest commercial aircraft flying out there.”

The finale was the unveiling of the special flight plan created for the inaugural flight – one more tribute to the mighty Queen in the form of a crown drawn in the sky, along with a 747 nested within the shape.

As Atlas prepares to take delivery of the final four 747 next week, we spoke to the Commercial Team about this iconic aircraft. 

Paul Sawhny

For Paul Sawhny, Senior Vice President of Fleet Planning and Asset Management, Sales and Marketing, Atlas Air and Senior Vice President and Global Head of Technical, Titan Aviation Leasing, working with the last 747 ever made is especially meaningful given that he began his career with the first.

In 1985, Paul joined Pan Am as an Airframe Engineer, where he worked on the first commercial 747, N747PA, known as Clipper Juan T. Trippe. That aircraft was one of Pan Am’s fleet of more than 50 747s.

After Pan Am ceased operations, Paul joined the Atlas Air start-up team in 1992, serving as an advisor before coming onboard full time in 1998 as Vice President of Technical Operations. He left Atlas in 2002 to return to business school and rejoined the Company in 2019 in his current position.

His return meant that Paul would have the opportunity to work with the very last 747, which rolled off the line at the Boeing plant near Everett, Wash. on Dec. 6, 2022.

“It’s the alpha and omega for me,” said Paul, whose first experience with the iconic aircraft came in 1971, when the first 747 was delivered to Air India, where his father was head of technical operations.  “I have been fortunate to begin and end my career with the 747, and it is to this aircraft that I owe much of my career.” 

Graham Perkins

Graham Perkins, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, EMEIA, grew up near an airport in Calgary, Canada. By the age of six, he was in love with aviation and captivated by the B747.

“All three major Canadian carriers (at the time) flew the B747’s into my city, and I would plane spot with my binoculars to see these giants coming and going,” he said. “To say I was in awe of the size and grace of these aircraft would be an understatement. … And it is something I still feel to this day every time I see a B747.”

Graham remembers the first time he had the opportunity to step inside a 747. It was 1975, on a flight from San Francisco to Sydney for a family holiday.

“When we approached this plane to board, I remember stopping dead in my tracks to stare at this incredible machine,” he said. “It was love at first sight, as they say. I remember the sights, the sounds, the smells and the experience like it was yesterday. While recently attending the delivery of our first B747-8F to Kuehne Nagel, I felt exactly the same way: my heart skipped a beat!”

Today, Graham works with customers who contract with Atlas to use the Company’s 747s to support their cargo business.

“Knowing the capabilities and performance of these incredible aircraft makes my job to place these planes that much more enjoyable,” said Graham, who celebrated his 20-year anniversary with Atlas in September. “It is a source of pride to know that we operate the largest fleet of B747s in the world, and our customers value this from us.

“A lot of (Atlas’) success and attitude to win was developed on the back of the B747 itself. We should all be very proud of that and very thankful to this incredible aircraft that changed aviation forever. Luckily, we will see our latest deliveries flying for the next 30 to 40 years, so our success will continue well into the future.”

Brian Munson

Brian Munson, Staff Vice President, Global Charter Sales, Sales and Marketing, has built his career around the Boeing 747 freighter, working with every variant of the aircraft ever made in the various roles he has held throughout the aviation field.

Brian remembers the first time he was “up close and personal” with the impressive B747-400F. He had just joined Polar Air Cargo in Indonesia. As a former loadmaster, he was familiar with the 747-100 and 200 freighters. But this new aircraft was something different.

“I was absolutely blown away by the size and power of the aircraft,” Brian said. “I recall walking onboard for the first time, and the plane still had that ‘new car’ look and smell to it. When I went on the 400 freighter for the first time, I was greeted by one of the pilots or loadmasters who showed me around the various systems and controls.”

After years of experience with other versions of the 747 freighter, he was fascinated by how much technology had advanced with the 400.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work in various roles supporting all variants of the Boeing 747 freighter, including the 100, 200, 300, 400 and -8F, throughout my career in the industry,” he said. “The 747 always has and always will hold a special place in my heart. It truly has been the backbone of my career. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an incredible aircraft, and I am grateful to be a part of such a special team at Atlas Air.”

Jaavid Ali

The first encounter Jaavid Ali had with a Boeing 747 was as a child in Trinidad and Tobago. He and his father traveled to Montreal to visit their family on a flight aboard a 747-200.

“I had no idea then how vital the aircraft was to the world and how the 747 would impact me as an adult,” said Jaavid, Senior Director, Charter Sales and Marketing.

In the late 90s, he realized his lifelong dream of working with the 747-400 when he took a job working with the ground crew of a British airline at JFK.

“I was always amazed at the size of the aircraft and how much it changed the way we travel today,” Jaavid said. “Unfortunately, during my time at that airline, I never flew on the 747.”

But that changed when he joined Atlas in 2000. At that time, the Company had a jump seat program that allowed employees to travel to Atlas destinations under certain circumstances.

“I took full advantage of this by visiting Dubai, UAE, Sydney, Australia and Hong Kong,” said Jaavid, who joined Atlas as an Operations Controller in the Global Control Center (GCC). “My first flight on a 747 was with Atlas from JFK-MIA on a 747-200SF, which was being positioned to MIA for a maintenance check. The flight happened to be flown by one of the Atlas chief pilots, and it was a fantastic experience, one that I will never forget.”

In 2010, Jaavid was part of the team involved in developing the systems and managing the four highly modified 747 “Dreamlifters” on behalf of Boeing. He moved to the Atlas Sales Team in 2017, where he leads the day-to-day Commercial Charter business and works to optimize the short- and long-term utilization of the Company’s 747 fleet.

“During the pandemic, the world saw the 747 as a lifeline, transporting life-saving goods and equipment and keeping the economy going,” he said. “The 747 has impacted people around the globe positively. It has been a big part of my life. I once dreamed of flying the 747, but I settled for the next best thing and never looked back.”

Atlas Funds a Third Dog, Named Polar, Who Joins Atlas and Titan

As the largest provider of military passenger and cargo airlift to U.S. service members globally, Atlas takes great pride in the partnership we’ve established with K9s For Warriors, a United States charity and veterans service organization that provides trained Service Dogs to military veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, post 9-11 issues and other psychological challenges associated with military service.

To date, Atlas’ partnership has helped support the construction of a “mega-kennel,” capable of housing and training more than 150 Service Dogs, which helped shorten the K9s For Warriors’ veteran waitlist – currently four years – by 50 percent.  More dogs trained means more veterans can be helped.

Titan, Atlas’ second sponsored Service Dog.

Additionally, Atlas’ financial support has gone toward the training and placing of a service dog – Atlas – with a Warrior. The Company just learned that its second sponsored dog, Titan, is now in training and will soon be matched with another Warrior, supporting him or her in their return to a life of purpose, dignity and independence.

Training begins on the campus of K9s For Warriors and includes exposing the dogs to as many settings and stimuli as possible. While on campus, the dogs are introduced to different people, dogs, smells, sounds, and objects including wheelchairs, skateboards and even airplane seats, thanks to Atlas Air.

“As our dogs gain skills and confidence, we begin taking them off campus,” explained Elizabeth Reeger, Development Manager, K9s For Warriors.

“All of our dogs will go to plenty of public parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and other

Titan and his trainer at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida.

‘big box’ stores, such as Home Depot, Target, Ross, etc. We also take our dogs to a variety of more challenging and unique locations such as the airport (we even go through security), the crowded streets of touristy St. Augustine, schools, sporting events, museums, pet stores, and more. When our Warriors arrive on campus to meet their dog, we go to many of these same locations, and slowly increase the level of difficulty.”

According to Elizabeth, Titan is at a very advanced level in his training and is on track to meet his Warrior in February.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for all of us,” said Gary Wade, Senior Vice President, Global Security. “Partnering with K9s For Warriors is one way we can show our appreciation for their service and our commitment to helping them adjust to civilian life.”

Titan taking a stroll alongside St. Johns River as part of a training session.

Sadly, approximately 20 veterans die by suicide every day. K9s For Warriors is determined to help change that and Atlas is poised to continue supporting their efforts.

Atlas has agreed to sponsor a third dog named Polar. Training for Polar will be scheduled soon.

“We are so grateful to the Atlas team’s commitment to our military service members,” said Elizabeth Reeger, Development Manager, Major Gifts. “Atlas’ contributions are helping to save Warriors’ lives.”

Atlas employees came together last month at the 21st Annual Atlas Air Worldwide Charity Golf Tournament to support charities that provide critical services to those in need – an important part of Atlas’ promise to support the communities where we do business and help them to thrive.

A rainbow appeared for the cocktail hour.

The event, which included a highly competitive golf tournament, dinner and charity auction (and a well-timed rainbow!), was held at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York. Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to K9s For Warriors, the Liberty City Optimist Club, the Fairfield County Food Bank and other charities that align with the Company’s commitment to Supporting the U.S. Military Personnel and Their Families; Developing the Workforce of Tomorrow; and Providing Humanitarian Relief.

“This was a record-breaking year,” said Gary Wade, Senior Vice President, Security and host of the event. “The event was sold out within 48 hours of the invitations being sent and we raised more money than ever before for these very important organizations.”

As the largest provider of military passenger and cargo airlift to U.S. service members globally, Atlas takes great pride in the partnership we’ve established with K9s For Warriors, the nation’s largest provider of trained Service Dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma.

Warrior Zoe, LaVerne Bowman, Atlas the Service Dog and Laura Drezek.

“Successfully guiding a veteran through the K9s For Warriors program and providing them with a Service Dog doesn’t just change the Warrior’s life…it saves the Warrior’s life,” said Elizabeth Reeger, Development Manager, Major Gifts at K9s for Warriors.

“Seventy percent of the veterans who have come through our program have said that they were prepared

to die by suicide. Then they were paired with one of our service dogs and a new chapter began. Some have reunited with their families. Some have gone back to school. Most importantly, most learn to enjoy life again,” said Elizabeth during her remarks at the event.  “Be proud that your golfing today has saved a life. And, on behalf of K9s for Warriors, thank you. We are so very grateful.”

Joining Elizabeth at the tournament were two very special guests – Warrior Zoe and her service dog, Atlas, the Company’s first sponsored dog.

Gary Wade presents Warrior Zoe with a necklace from Tiffany’s after her remarks.

Zoe took the podium after Elizabeth and spoke about how Atlas has given her life back to her.

“This dog has had such an impact on my life; she is giving me a real second chance at life,” she said. “Please know that your money is going to something very real and that it is having a lasting, positive impact.”

Like K9s for Warriors, The Liberty City Optimist Club of Florida, located just five miles from our Miami Training Center, is acutely focused on improving the lives of others. Dedicated to the underserved Miami community of Liberty City, the Club has been a safe haven for thousands of at-risk youth, providing after-school programming and academic tutoring, sports, meals and more. With Atlas’ backing, the Club has been able to offer free registration for participants in the sports program and reduced registration fees for the after-school program. Most recently, Atlas stepped up to fund the Club’s entire summer camp with the proceeds from previous golf tournaments.

Tameika Wiley, Program Manager, Liberty City Optimist Club of Florida, spoke of the Club’s commitment to the children and their work to reframe an area often associated with crime and high poverty rates.

“For most of our children, Liberty City Optimist Club is the only safe space they know,” she said. “It’s a team effort to drive change and make a positive difference here in Liberty City. Atlas is a big part of that team. We are humbled with gratitude for your kind and generous donations to our program, and we are grateful for your partnership.”

Atlas’ Keith Mayer with fellow golf tournament participants, just before the afternoon tee off. Due to the extensive waiting list, a second tee time was offered for the first time since the event started 21 years ago.

Gary echoed Tameika’s comments about what can be possible as the result of a team effort.

“Our 21st Annual Charity Golf Tournament was a success because of the extraordinary team here at Atlas,” he said. “From the support of our Atlas colleagues both in attendance and from a distance to the dedication of our event planning team: Kim Cerny, Senior Manager, Flight Operations; Julia Crupi, Senior Manager, Legal Administration; and Samantha Patterson. These three didn’t miss a beat – from staying on top of the requirements of their day jobs to ensuring yet another flawless execution of the event. It takes a team to deliver on our commitment to improving the lives in the communities where we live and work. The Atlas team is simply the best.”

Kim Cerny added, “The Tournament truly captures the generous spirit of the Atlas family. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this team.”

Earlier this year, Atlas Air launched its first formal university partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). Through the program, Atlas Air will provide ERAU students priority access to opportunities and information and will guarantee ERAU pilots an interview for Atlas Air’s Pathway to Success Program.  As a partner, Atlas Air will recruit, train and hire qualified graduates of Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Florida Aeronautical Science degree program.

(L-R) Teslim Balogun, Nigel Baynes, Manami Murphy, Leisa Snyder, Danielle Jones, Brian LaPorte, Patrick Stone and Alex Geller

“Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a leader in aviation education,” said Leisa Spears Snyder, Director, Workforce Development. “Our partnership will help strengthen the pipeline for a talented, diverse workforce at Atlas Air.”

Leisa and the Atlas Air team recently engaged with Embry-Riddle students through a series of events held over four days on the Daytona Beach campus.

Jeff Carlson, Senior Vice President, Flight Operations and a graduate of Embry-Riddle, was the featured speaker at the Atlas Air Partnership Announcement/Information Session. Jeff reviewed the opportunities the Pathway to Success program offered students and took questions from students afterwards.

“It’s clear to me that the future for aviation is very bright,” said Jeff. “These young students asked all the right questions. They wanted to know more about our mission, our culture, our commitment to ESG and the kind of work that we do. I took great pride in being able to speak to how Atlas cares for the world we carry, through the meaningful work we do every single day.”

“This first event really set the tone for the rest of our visit,” said Leisa. “It was exciting

(L-R) Alex Geller, Sophia Borrelli, Denise Borrelli, Leisa Snyder and Robert Scheulen

to see the non-stop interest in Atlas at each one of our events.”

Over the course of the following days, the Atlas Air ambassador team – Teslim Balogun, Line Training Scheduler, Nigel Baynes, Pilot Support Agent, Denise Borrelli, Director, Flight Crew Ops, 737 First Officer Alexander Geller, 737 First Officer Danielle A. Jones, 767 First Officer Brian A. LaPorte, FO 737 Manami S. Murphy, 767 Captain Robert Scheulen and Training Instructor and 737 First Officer Patrick H. Stone – met with flight instructors and students to discuss the opportunities at Atlas and specific next steps to take.

“The turnout each day was consistently incredible,” said Leisa. “At the end of our visit, we connected with more than 3,000 students in-person. I’m so grateful to our onsite volunteers, as well as our colleagues – Chelsea Fisch, Meghan Glynn, Jaronda Mills and Carl Pitts – who provided key support in the days leading up to the event. I’m confident this is the start of a productive and meaningful partnership with Embry-Riddle, which will help Atlas build a strong workforce.”

Representatives from Boeing, Atlas and MSC participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Atlas recently welcomed the first of four new Boeing 777-200 Freighters at a special celebration at Boeing’s headquarters in Seattle. Atlas Air will operate this aircraft on behalf of our customer MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, as part of a previously announced long-term ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) agreement.

John Dietrich stepped up to the podium at the event celebrating the delivery and shared what an honor it is for Atlas to partner with MSC, the world’s largest shipping company, as they enter into the world of air cargo.

“This is the first of four 777s Atlas is taking for MSC Air Cargo,” said John. “We are committed to ensuring MSC Air Cargo is successful, and in turn that Atlas and MSC are successful together.”

Michael Steen, who was also onsite for the delivery stressed the importance of teamwork between Atlas, MSC and Boeing.

“This is a strategic partnership and the first time that MSC is moving into air cargo. We are excited to be a part of that process and look forward to continuing to grow our partnership.”

The 777-200 Freighter will complement MSC’s world-class container shipping solutions and expand service to key trade lanes for various industries, including those which traditionally have significant air cargo transportation needs.

The first of four B777-200Fs for MSC takes to the skies.

With an established history of twin-engine efficiency, reduced fuel consumption, and lower maintenance and operating costs, the 777 is the longest-range twin-engine freighter in the world, capable of flying 4,880 nautical miles (9,038 kilometers). The 777-200F also meets quota count standards for maximum accessibility to noise‑sensitive airports around the globe.

“We are delighted to see the first of our MSC-branded aircraft take to the skies and we are looking forward to begin serving the market with our new Air Cargo solution,” said Jannie Davel, Senior Vice President Air Cargo at MSC. “We believe that MSC Air Cargo is developing a solid foundation, thanks to the reliable, ongoing support of our operating partner, Atlas.”

For more information on the delivery, please click here.

Representatives from Boeing, Atlas, K+N and K+N’s customer, Google, participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The second to the last of the 747-8Fs ever to be produced by Boeing took center stage last week at a special ribbon cutting ceremony with Atlas’ customer, Kuehne+Nagel. Hosted at the Boeing Everett Delivery Center in Seattle, the event was attended by over 70 executives from Boeing, Atlas, Kuehne+Nagel and their customers.

The ceremonial “keys” to the Boeing 747-8F, named ‘Inspire.’, were presented by John Dietrich and Michael Steen to Yngve Ruud, Executive Vice President, Air Logistics at Kuehne+Nagel, to mark the expanded partnership between Atlas Air and Kuhne+Nagel.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to share this day with you to give Kuehne+Nagel the last two 747s that are ever going to be built,” said John. “The focus for Atlas is to be sure that we contribute to your success and to take this venture to the next level with another great service offering from Kuehne+Nagel. Our commitment is to your success, and that of your customers. Thank you for putting your trust in us to get to this moment.”

“At the end of day, this is a collaboration and a team effort. Atlas is a strong believer in building strategic relationships with our customers in order to provide the best transportation we can, as well as invest in their respective supply chains,” said Michael. “One such investment is the joint effort that we – Atlas and Kuehne+Nagel – are going to make, is to the environment and a sustainable operation. You have Atlas’ commitment to continue to work with Kuehne+Nagel, and of course your customers as well, to make this a tremendous success.”

“This is a big day. For our team, this is probably the day that we’ve been looking forward to the longest,” said Yngve. “If you look at the plane, and the name ‘Inspire.’, you see the commitment that we are giving today to serve our customer and to make sure our industry is evolving.”

The Kuehne+Nagel 747-8F “Inspire.”

Attendees also enjoyed a special factory tour and a private visit inside the aircraft.  Many of the guests remarked that one of the highlights of their day was meeting the Atlas 747 crewmembers: Tom Vize, 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner, Joe Masone, 747 Captain and Designated Examiner and Roberto Meneghini, 747 Captain and Designated Examiner. The pilots shared their enthusiasm for the newest 747 arrival and answered questions from our guests.

The aircraft, which Atlas Air will operate for Kuehne+Nagel under a long-term, dedicated charter agreement, was officially delivered today, November 22.

For more information on the delivery, please click here.

First Officer Karen Gerharter-Goodman.

When the Flight Path Museum at LAX asked Atlas First Officer Karen Gerharter-Goodman to lead a program that provides young people with a chance to explore the first steps toward a potential career in aviation, her answer was an enthusiastic “yes.”

Karen had been fine-tuning her own idea for a project to encourage would-be pilots. She was especially driven to show young women with dreams of flying that aviation careers are open to them. 

The Flight Path Flyers program, which features an introduction to flight training, has the same goal. It aims to draw young women as well as others from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented among the pilot ranks.

Karen is motivated by the memory of her 99-year-old mother-in-law, who was fascinated by aircraft and flight but, like other women of her generation, never had an opportunity to pursue her passion for aviation.

In 2011, soon after Karen earned her 747-type rating, she was scheduled for a tour of a cargo 747, and she invited her mother-in-law, who was 88 at the time, to come along.

“She came with me – climbing up the stairs and everything. She was so thrilled to be walking onto this 747 and seeing the immensity of the plane and the controls on the flight deck,” said Karen, who joined Atlas in January 2019. “She was just amazed and in awe for years afterward, up until she died this past July. She always remembered going on that plane and what a remarkable experience it was.”

So, for nine weeks which began Oct. 15, Karen honors her mother-in-law by spending her Saturday mornings encouraging those who might not otherwise be able to imagine themselves in a cockpit.

“I want to say to them, ‘Look, this is attainable. It is a viable career’,” said Karen, who wanted to be an astronaut before she decided to pursue her career as a commercial airline pilot. “It is a lot of fun if you are willing to put the work in.”

This session of the Flight Path Flyers program, which has nine participants ranging in age from 13 to 21, represents the program’s relaunch following a hiatus during the pandemic.

Karen designed the program’s curriculum, and she intends to invite colleagues to speak to the class about other areas of the aviation industry, including Maintenance/Mechanics and Air Traffic Control, she said.

The classes do not include flying lessons. But, according to the Flight Path Museum, graduates from previous cohorts of the program have gone on to complete flight instruction and earn their pilot licenses.

The Flight Path Museum LAX is located in the airport’s former Imperial Terminal and features exhibits, including those dedicated to commercial aviation history and space exploration as well as a collection of flight crew uniforms. Learn more about the museum and its exhibits and programs here.

Here at Atlas, we are honored to serve the U.S. military as the largest provider of their passenger and cargo airlift and are proud to count so many of our colleagues as veterans. Today, we shine a spotlight on a few of our veteran colleagues and their contributions the U.S. Armed Forces as part of the ongoing Atlas Salute to Service series.

Megan Matthews, Senior Passenger Service Representative (SPSR). Atlas Employee since 2018.

Megan Matthews.

Coming from a military family inspired Megan to serve. On one side of her family was her grandfather, who served in the Marines and on the other side were her grandfather and grandmother who met while both were in the Army.

Megan enlisted in the Air Force as a junior in high school and left for basic training only 12 days after graduation. Her rank was Senior Airman and her job was a C-17 Loadmaster with the 6th Airlift Squadron (6AS), stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Megan served from 2007 to 2013.

“Serving as a Loadmaster in the military exposed me to the type of work I currently do with Atlas as a SPSR,” said Megan. “Additionally, the military helped developed my skills in leadership, adaptability and work ethic that I strive to use every day to ensure the success of every Atlas flight.”

During her time in the Air Force, Megan had the opportunity to fly combat missions, earning air medals for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation New Dawn. She is proud that she was able to airlift millions of pounds of essential equipment to troops on the ground.

“I appreciate the opportunities and support given to veterans and those who continue their military service here at Atlas,” said Megan. “It can be difficult for veterans to transition back to civilian life, and I appreciate that Atlas is committed to helping us establish new careers in this next chapter.”

Jo Houston, Quality Assurance Auditor/Ramp Maintenance. Atlas Employee since 2020.

Jo Houston.

Jo Houston served as a Petty Officer, Second Class in the United States Naval Reserve from 2001 to 2010, stationed at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (JRB) in Belle Chasse Louisiana and Andrews Air Force Base, Camp Springs, Maryland.

Jo’s interest in joining the military comes from growing up in a family where “service is stressed.” Her mother was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, and she has many uncles, cousins and aunts who have served and retired from the Army.

“Being a part of the military taught me how to function independently and as a member of a collective,” said Jo. “I think a good deal of my deductive reasoning is due to my military training. I learned to lead with skill and not force or fear, which makes me an effective auditor. I have found that most people want to work with me and know that any issues disclosed during an audit will not be met with judgment and punishment.”

Jo’s proudest moment happened during an extraction mission when she was working for the military as a civilian.

“As a part of Special Forces, it gave me pride to know that I was helping our members during some of their most trying times,” said Jo. “My proudest memories on duty were meeting General Colin Power when he was Secretary of Defense and George and Laura Bush as President and First Lady.”

Jo says it makes her happy to know she works with so many veterans. “We swap stories and draw on career experiences to help us with our daily routines. I’m proud of the fact that Atlas moves the military and provides a career path for so many after they transition from the military.”

Silas Simone, 747 Captain. Atlas Employee since 2015.

Major Silas Simone began his military career in 2001 as an F-16 crew chief in the Minnesota and Ohio Air National Guard (ANG). He was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science (AMS). He was also a C-130 pilot during his time in the military.

Captain Silas Simone.

His flying assignments included the Alaska and Delaware ANG, and his staff assignment was at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. in Air Operations as a mobility airlift programmer, and then as a tactical airlift functional manager.

During his military career, Major Simone supported numerous flying deployments, including Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

Major Simone comes from a family with strong military ties. His wife is an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and is currently serving as a force support squadron commander. Additionally, his father was in the Army, and his grandfather was in the Navy.

“The inherent discipline and training rigor I developed over my 20-year military career has transferred into my civilian career quite well,” said Major Simone. “International travel, deployments, long days and extensive studying of this craft has set me up for success as an International Part 121 Pilot, along with the professionalism and high demands this job requires.”

Major Simone said that his most memorable moments are always the return from deployments when he can embrace his wife and kids. His proudest moment was providing humanitarian efforts to refugees from war-torn countries through C-130 Airdrops.

“The direct human impact at the time was raw and visible, and we knew that at least for that moment we helped,” said Major Simone, who retired from the military on January 1, 2022.

Speaking about how Atlas employs so many members of the military, Major Simone says, “It shows that the Company values service members and what kind of human capital, skills, leadership and dedication service members can bring to Atlas to further advance its workforce.”

Victor Andres Castillo, Training Records Administrator. Atlas Employee since 2022.

Although he has only been with Atlas for eight months, Victor feels like he has been with the Company for years via his military career.

“Being on deployments and/or other military orders, Atlas Air was my main means of transportation taking us from base to base,” said Victor. “The customer service experience from both the pilots and the ground crew made for a remarkable experience.”

In July 2010, Victor enlisted in the Security Forces (Military Police), where he served for ten years. He shared that being part of the military greatly helped him with

Victor Castillo.

his career at Atlas. Through the military, he was able to build his character — becoming resilient, loyal, adaptable — and find ways to both identify and solve problems, all skills that have helped him in his current position.

“Military training builds strong character, providing tools to show empathy toward others, push through adversity and commit to the mission of the organization.”

Victor has many memorable moments from proudly serving his country. While “some are good, some are bad and some are in-between,” Victor said. “Serving in the Armed Forces has been a privilege and honor. It is the greatest feeling in the world to have served, and I have no regrets.”

Accomplishing Basic Military Training (BMT) and Tech School was his most memorable, challenging and rewarding experience.

“I enlisted in the Armed Forces later than most, and my fellow trainees jokingly referred to me as ‘grandpa.’ All the other trainees were in their late teens and they looked up to me. I was their inspiration, their shoulder to cry on or a fellow trainee who always had their back. It was tough to withstand Physical Training (PT) not being in as good shape as the teenagers. However, because of my determination, resiliency and the ability to endure pain, I finished within the top five of my class and won the outstanding performance award.

“Atlas Air has given me an opportunity to share my life and background with my team members and the organization,” said Victor. “It is an honor to be part of a well-rounded organization, showing commitment and pride for our employees who wear and have worn the uniform. It is an honor to be part of the Atlas Air team!”

Carleen A. Ybarra, Director Employee Relations & Work Force Solutions. Atlas Employee since 2021.

Carleen Ybarra.

Carleen has been in the US Army Reserves since 1997 and presently serves as the Command Sergeant Major for a drill sergeant unit. In 2000, she deployed to Kosovo in support of NATO’s peacekeeping mission. In 2004, she deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and took part in multiple training missions.

Carleen is a first generation American and the first generation of her family to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces and did so along with her cousin.

“We set the standard for the next generation of our family,” said Carleen. “There are now six members of my family who are currently serving or have proudly served.”

Carleen shares that the Army’s values, which include loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage, are paramount in her role in Human Resources.

“By embodying these core values, I can execute my job for Atlas without moral or personal conflict. Both my leader and the Company expect the same out of me,” said Carleen.

When reflecting on her military career, Carleen said that she feels many moments of pride including seeing soldiers that she has coached, mentored and developed receive promotions.

She also refers to other proud moments, which happened while she was stationed overseas.

“A couple of years into my enlistment, I deployed to Kosovo shortly after the NATO bombing campaign,” said Carleen. “As a civil affairs operator, I was able to directly impact the rebuilding of the city of Urosevac/Ferizaj coordinating and supporting humanitarian assistance relief efforts and helping with the reconstruction of schools and other government-run infrastructure.”

One of Carleen’s greatest feelings of personal accomplishment, and her proudest moment as an American soldier, was the impact she had on the Albanian, Serbian and Gypsy women.

“These women saw me, a woman with a job, authorityand freedom of speech and movement,” said Carleen. “I will never forget how excited they were (as was I) to witness that. Before my tour ended these women were learning how to drive.”

About working at Atlas, Carleen shares a memory from her time in the Armed Forces.

“I am proud to work for a company that supports our military,” said Carleen. “I remember the many trips that I took to Green Ramp at Pope Air Force Base at the onset of the War on Terror and seeing my friends board Atlas Air planes. Sometimes it is lost on the average American the service and sacrifice that service members make every day.  When companies such as ours stand up for and stand by those who serve, it sends a message to the rest of our country that we will not be forgotten.  Working here and supporting the mission of our airline feels as though I’m giving back.”

A significant source of pride for Atlas employees is the chance to make an impact in their jobs. Sometimes, that impact exceeds expectations.

Recently, colleagues at the March Air Reserve Base (RIV) in Riverside County, California helped support Amazon’s mission to fight childhood cancer.

Every September as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Amazon partners with the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) to help raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. Through its Amazon Goes Gold for Kids with Cancer campaign, young children battling cancer can participate in a number of activities and events throughout the month. A gold ribbon is the universal symbol for childhood cancer.

(L-R) Alejandro Guzman, Andrea Espino and Ray Earls

Atlas’ Maintenance Manager, Ray Earls, along with Station Supervisors Andrea Espino and Alejandro Guzman, supported Amazon’s efforts by giving a young girl battling leukemia and her family a tour of the RIV warehouse and the flight deck of a 737.

This child is going through something unimaginable,” said Ray. “It was important for all of us to give her and her family an opportunity to enjoy themselves and perhaps take their minds off of her diagnosis for a moment.”

“We applaud Amazon’s efforts to give back to the community and support the fight against childhood cancer,” said both Andrea and Alejandro. “We’re very grateful that Atlas can join in to help make a difference.”

Participating in a day like this touched the hearts of all those on site, but for Ray, the significance of this event hits very close to home.

“This was an emotional day for me, because my wife is currently battling breast cancer,” he said. “I’ve had a front row seat to the fight against cancer, so the opportunity to help do something fun for this family during this challenging time was incredible.”

Ray notes the impact that a day like this can have on a child battling cancer.

“This is a day she will never forget, and I promise you, when we were up in that airplane, she wasn’t thinking about being sick. That’s gold.”