Dreams Can Be Achieved Through Hard Work, No Matter Your Background

By F/O Ladislao “Laddie” Diaz, Western Global

My name is Ladislao A. Diaz, but I go by Laddie. I am a Hispanic American born in Pinar del Río, Cuba, in 1962, three years after the Cuban Revolution forever changed my fatherland. In 1968, my family was able to leave Cuba on the Cuban Freedom Flights. Settling temporarily in Linden, N.J., my father would take me to the Linden Airport to watch the planes fly. How I loved to watch those little airplanes fly—I was bitten by the flying bug and decided I wanted to be an airline pilot.

Years later, my family relocated to Orlando, Fla., where I worked and saved money to go to flight school. I found the Airline Aviation Academy in Orlando, which had a zero time to multi-engine instructor program. I matriculated and earned all my ratings and became a flight instructor.

To build time, I flew Cessna 402s to the Bahamas, flew Part 135, and worked as a flight instructor. In 2007, I was hired by Mesa Airlines as a first officer on the Embraer 145 regional jet. After several upgrades and successfully bidding for Embraer 175s, I was assigned as a captain out of their Houston base.

I left after 10 years at Mesa Airlines and now fly cargo as a first officer on the Boeing 747-400 at Western Global Airlines. As a pilot, I have been able to visit many countries and experience a variety of cultures from around the world. I’ve flown over Cuba numerous times. Having never returned since I left in 1968, when at altitude on clear days, I look down from the cockpit on the island nation where I was born, and I think “I am so close, yet so far away.”

To those who aspire to become airline pilots: No matter what background you come from, you can achieve your dreams with enough hard work, dedication, and resolve.

National Hispanic American Heritage Month means never forgetting where I come from, taking pride in my family, and knowing that with hard work there is nothing we cannot achieve. 

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