Paul Herrera's aviation journey took off during high school when he received a scholarship to learn how to fly propeller planes at Santa Monica Airport. The son of Costa Rican immigrants, Herrera considered himself fortunate to receive such an opportunity that ignited a lifelong career and passion for aviation.
Today, as the General Manager of Van Nuys Airport, overseeing one of the busiest aviation hubs in the county, Herrera pays it forward by connecting with local students at California State University Los Angeles, serving as an Adjunct Professor for a General Aviation Operations and Administration course.
"This Latino from Santa Monica was given a chance by a group of pilots that helped in a flight plan leading to my position as Airport Manager at Van Nuys Airport. I'm grateful to recognize the gift that was given to me, and that keeps on giving as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month," Herrera said.
Since 1928, the Van Nuys Airport has been a longstanding fixture in the Southern California region, thanks in part to the invaluable contributions of Hispanic workers like Herrera, who fill both leadership and skilled positions. The airport not only facilitates standard general aviation functions but also is home to organ donation flights and fire relief efforts.
With over 200 businesses operating within its confines, the airport supports more than 10,000 jobs and provides a platform for Hispanic workers to excel across various fields within the aviation industry. From airport leaders to skilled professionals like pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians, individuals from the Hispanic community play a pivotal role in maintaining the safety and efficiency of VNY's operations.
Jorge Guerra, a flight instructor at one of Van Nuys Airport's flight schools, First Take Aviation, shares a similar story to Herrera.
Born in Mexico City and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Jorge Guerra's journey to becoming a skilled pilot is inspiring. His passion for aviation took flight at a young age as he marveled at the airplanes cruising the skies around Van Nuys Airport. Little did he know that this airport would be where he would start his career as a pilot.
Today, Jorge's days are filled with the excitement of flying reporters for KFI and KNX radio, taking them on adventurous journeys across the vast expanse of Southern California. His role in providing aerial news coverage showcases his piloting skills and highlights his commitment to keeping the public informed from the skies above.
In addition to his role as a professional pilot, Jorge shares his wisdom and expertise with aspiring aviators as a Flight Instructor at First Take Aviation in Van Nuys. He is renowned among his students for his unwavering commitment to their success, pushing them to unlock their full potential. Jorge believes that the sky is not the limit but the beginning of endless possibilities for those who dare to dream.
The contributions of Hispanic workers are not just limited to pilots, as seen in individuals like Lily Aguila, a buyer at Van Nuys Airport tenant Western Jet Aviation. Known for her warm smile, great sense of humor, and unwavering dedication to her work, Aguila immigrated to the United States from Guerra, Mexico, with her family in 1993. Aguilar's aviation career began with reselling aerospace parts at a small company before becoming a Buyer at WJA. Her commitment to her work is a testament to the sense of community that thrives at Van Nuys Airport.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the stories of individuals like Paul Herrera, Jorge Guerra, and Lily Aguila remind us of the rich tapestry of talent, dedication, and resilience within the Hispanic community at Van Nuys Airport.