Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. In a way, aviation started at a very young age for me since most of my toys were airplanes, spaceships and what not.
During my teens, I had a strong interest in learning how to fly and by the time I was 17 years old, I flew solo for the very first time. Later on, I decided to make it a career, so I packed my bags and went to Florida for college in 2006. I later graduated and the university offered me a job and stayed in the States ever since. Flying is my passion and I literally fly every day of the week now.
Have you always wanted to be an Aerobatics pilot?
No. When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a pilot, but I was more interested in flying the "heavy metal". Big airliners carrying hundreds of passangers or even cargo. But that all changed in college after I did an Intro Ride in an aerobatic airplane (Pitts S2B). I knew right then and there that I wanted to fly upside down on a regular basis. I still have a strong interest in flying for the airlines later down the road, but the main focus right now is aerobatics.
What are some major differences between a commercial pilot and an Aerobatics pilot?
Everything. When flying commercially, the flights are long and straight and level for most of the time. The equipment used is much more sophisticated and autonomous and overall, it is a much more procedural environment. Aerobatics is the total opposite. The equipment has minimal technology. Bare bones. Flights are much shorter but everything is much more intense. And since this is practiced at a much lower altitude, there is very little room for error. In a nutshell, an airline pilot spends more time pressing buttons, talking on the radio and drinking coffee. An aerobatic pilot is actually flying the airplane every single second working on perfection.
What are some of your favourite things about Aerobatics?
My favorite thing is the absolute freedom. We fly very responsive, high performance aircraft. They literally become an extension of your body and the airplanes
will do exactly whatever it is that you want it to do. Its almost like just thinking about it and instantly it happens, especially on the Giles 202 which is the airplane
I compete in. It has a roll rate of 450 degrees per second. In other words, it will do a full roll in less than a second and that is pretty fast!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an Aerobatic pilot?
First and foremost, you have to be a pilot already. At least obtain your private pilot certificate / license. Unfortunately it is a sport that is hard to get into and it can be very expensive. I was fortunate enough to find an aerobatic and sport aviation club in my area which made it affordable and feasible for me while I was a college student. Because of this club, I met a lot of key people and developed life long relationships which made it easy for me to stay in the sport. Aviation is a small community but the aerobatic community is even smaller, so there is a lot of support. Finding a flying club and/or a qualified aerobatic instructor is the way to go in order to build that experience.
In your free time, what do you like to do?
Currently as a full time flight instructor, working at the biggest aviation University in the world, it's very difficult to find free time. Whenever I find such free time I typically use it to practice and train for aerobatic competitions. It's quite ironic. I fly for a living so that I can fly for fun on my free time!
Do you workout at a gym?
I have a gym membership and occasionally do go to the gym, but I am more of a "work out at home" kind of guy. I have a squat rack, dumbbells and barbells in my garage. I have also picked up cycling recently and the occasional run.
Do you play any regular sports?
I played some baseball while living in the Dominican Republic but that was many years ago. I practice Muay Thai, which is my main form of workout. But aerobatics is very physically demanding and hard on your body. You have to be in good physical conditions. I typically pull 7 to 8 Gs during my routines which feels like dropping a bunch of bricks on your body all at once. Not sure if you can call it a "regular sport" but it is a sport nonetheless.
Do you have any goals that you’re working towards?
Becoming an airline pilot and achieving that childhood dream. Although it's not the style of flying I enjoy the most, but the lifestyle and quality of life is excellent. Besides, this will give me more time to fly aerobatics. Believe it or not, airline pilots typically have a lot of time off. Other than that, I just signed up for my first Sprint Triathlon later this year. Lets see how that goes!
What’s your most memorable achievement?
I think that getting 1st place on me first aerobatic competition is something I will always remember. It was at Sebring, Florida, Fall 2010. Granted it was in the Primary category, which is the most basic aerobatic category at competitions, but I think that was a huge factor that got me motivated to continue on with the sport.
What’s something fun, or funny, about you that people don’t know?
I've made people cry playing Mario Kart 64... more than once haha.
Where/How did you hear about King Kong Apparel?
Stumbled across the profile on Instagram. Got me curious and did some research on the website later.
What made you want to be a King Kong Ambassador?
I like to support and be involved with brands and people I believe in. I think that King Kong Apparel is an awesome company that makes high quality products.
So when the opportunity came up, I jumped right on board.
What do you love most about King Kong Apparel?
I am still exploring the brand. I currently own the duffle bag which is my "go to" bag to take to competitions and the backpack mini, which is my "on the go" bag that I take to training camps or short trips. Both of these bags are very functional and durable. I also do love that everywhere I go, people ask me "what kind of bag is that?"
What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say King Kong Bags?