Stop by Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Fremont, CA and you will find yourself surrounded by some interesting staff and faculty members. If you happen to run into Wilner Alcantara, Leonel (Leo) Castro, or Antonio Cimarra, you are in for a special treat. While these three aviation maintenance instructors all started in the Philippines and are now teaching at AIM, their journeys are very different. However, one thing is clear in all three, their passion and knowledge for educating our students is contagious. We are happy to call them part of our AIM Fremont family as they teach the next generation of aviation professionals.
Recently, we got the chance to sit down with these instructors from the Philippines and learn a little more about them and what brought them to AIM. Through a lot of laughs (we’re pretty sure Leo could moonlight as a stand-up comic) and some heart-to-hearts, these men shared their stories and their shining passion for ensuring all our students at AIM have the best education possible. Check out part one and part two here. And here’s Leo:
Talk to Leo Castro for more than a few moments and you will quickly pick up on his sense of humor. He has a way of slipping in jokes with such a cool head that you don’t even realize they are jokes until the punchline has landed. His wit is only outmatched by his professional career. Leo was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. as a young adult. He has spent his adult life stateside. After earning his A&P certification, Leo spent five years as an aviation mechanic for the military before going on to be a technician for an airline contractor. Leo then worked at a satellite company for 10 years, before finally landing as an instructor at AIM. He has worked hard to earn his career and it hasn’t always been easy. Leo worked full-time while going to school to earn his A&P and bachelors. At times he was even sleeping in his car to save money to continue attending school. Leo reflects on how it was not an easy experience, but he was dedicated to his education and earned every part of it through his own efforts. These experiences enable Leo to relate to students and encourage them to put in the effort and dedication to earn their A&P certification.
Leo’s path to aviation maintenance was not a childhood dream come true, but rather the result of a TV commercial airing at the right place and the right time. After moving from the Philippines, he recalls that in his early adulthood he was struggling with finding the right career path. One day while lying on his couch with Cheetos and Diet Coke watching Jerry Springer, Leo saw a commercial for an aviation maintenance school. It inspired him to call, and the rest is history. When Leo isn’t teaching his students how to fix jets, you can find him out hiking, cheering on the warriors, the 49ers, keeping up with his comic book collection, or enjoying a good glass of rosé.
Leo provides his students with a healthy balance of humor, technical skill, and real-life experience. Being able to relate to his students on a grounded level helps Leo connect in a unique way as he prepares and inspires them to see where their careers can go. Leo lifts the spirits of those at the AIM Fremont campus, and the skills he conveys to all his students help them soar. Like a good joke, Leo is the perfect combination of wit, humor and inspiration, fitting in as the beloved jokester in our AIM family.
The three men ended by imparting some advice to all past, present, and future students. Words of wisdom to help guide the next generation of aviation maintenance professionals:
Wilner: Patience. Walk slowly, drive slowly, and take your time with all you do, as there is no room for mistakes in this business.
Antonio: Perseverance. Don’t expect everything will be handed to you. You are at this point in your life for a reason. Be grateful. Understand the success or failure of the company is your success of failure. Be willing to troubleshoot when things go wrong, and don’t get frustrated. Do everything with dedication and passion.
Leo: Effort. You don’t have to be the smartest, best looking, or richest in the room, you just have to be the one to put in the most effort, and you will be successful.
Be sure to check our previous weeks blogs to find out what Wilner and Antonio added to our conversation. We thank these three men from for taking the time to share their journeys from the Philippines to AIM Fremont with us.
Written by Ashleen Brydum
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando, and Norfolk. Learn more at www.AviationMaintenance.edu or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AIM.edu.