< Back to updates

Aviate Participant Spotlights

May 31, 2024

On this page


We’re back with more of our Aviate Success Stories, celebrating participants who have forged their path to United through the Aviate program. For this round, we at United Airlines are proud to honor Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and share the stories of our pilots’ dedication to their cultures and careers.

Back to top

Tony L.: Guam (GUM)-based B737 First Officer

“It all started from curiosity,” Tony shared.

Tony was born and raised in Hong Kong but he often flew to visit his grandparents in mainland China. These trips sparked his curiosity about how the pilot controlled the plane and what the world looked like inside of the cockpit. He landed his first job at the Hong Kong International Airport, working the baggage claim and check-in counter after high school. From there, he moved to San Diego, CA to chase his dream of becoming a pilot.

Tony joined United Aviate when he was a First Officer and then upgraded to Captain at our United Express carrier CommuteAir. Upon completing his training, Tony transitioned to United as a First Officer. He was even part of the crew on the inaugural flight from Guam (GUM) to Haneda (HND).

He is proud to uphold United’s Core4 values of caring, safety, dependability and efficiency.

“The Core4 is not just helping me to be a better crew member, but also to be a better person, friend and husband,” he said.

Tony is also a mentor for Professional Asian Pilots Association (PAPA) and continues to remind himself and others that persistence can achieve success.

Back to top

Jeff C.: Los Angeles (LAX)-based B737 First Officer

Jeff always wanted to become a pilot, but the idea initially felt like a far-fetched dream. His dream turned into reality when he was taken on a local flight with one of Aviate’s university partners, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott, during their summer camp for high school students.

Jeff interned at United in the Flight Operations department while Aviate was getting off the ground in 2019 and was then eligible to apply to Aviate through the United Family Program. The pilots and employees at United helped Jeff discover his career options at the airline. He then earned his college degree from Arizona State University and was a Certified Flight Instructor at our newest partner, UND Aerospace Foundation in Mesa, AZ, which neighbored his university.

He continued building his flight hours at CommuteAir before he transitioned to United.

“It was a promising program,” Jeff shared. “My journey with United has been very special and dear to me.”

Back to top

Chris L.: Denver (DEN)-based B737 Flight Instructor

Chris developed an excitement for a career in aviation when his college roommate took him flying as part of his own training. After that first flight, Chris quickly changed majors and never looked back.

“I set my sights on United, as it had everything I wanted in one place,” Chris shared.

Through his time in the industry and earning his ratings, he also discovered his love for teaching, flying internationally and the Part 121 environment. Chris joined CommuteAir after learning about their connection to Aviate and the program’s defined path to United.

“As a father of three, I needed a plan to reach my goals, while still providing the support my family needed,” Chris said. “The Aviate program provided structure and opportunities for me to reach my dreams, while providing a framework my family could plan around.”

Back to top

Stay in the loop

We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for our Aviate participants. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is interested in beginning your pilot journey to United, please have them subscribe to our communications to learn more. Don’t forget to check out our our eligibility chart to learn about the qualifications, partners and requirements to join Aviate.