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 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. Here’s what Wilner had to say:
Wilner Alcantara is the most soft-spoken of the group but don’t let that fool you, he has quite the story to tell. Wilner was born and raised in the Philippines and came to the United States in June of 1999. He started his career in aviation maintenance with a two-year education from a tech school before going on to pursue a bachelor’s degree. In his third year of schooling, he was hired by Philippine Airlines as a technician and worked his way up through the ranks. He went on to help a new charter airline get necessary the certificates to start a maintenance program before spending 10 years helping them as a planning engineer. He briefly moved to Florida to help train and hire a new fleet of recruits, but quickly found himself back in his preferred home of California. Wilner may not have been born in California, but he loves the state more than most native-Californians. He stated that he has chosen many of his jobs, simply because they would allow him to live in California. Which brought him to working at an airline in San Diego for seven years as a quality assurance auditor. When the company moved to the U.K., Wilner was packing his things to return to the Philippines and retire when Samantha from AIM Fremont called and convinced Wilner to consider teaching. Lucky for us, Wilner said yes, and we have had the pleasure of him being one of our instructors for over two years now.
Wilner credits his career in aviation to destiny. After not knowing what he wanted to do when he graduated high school, he considered nursing and mechanical engineering before deciding on an aviation school. And the rest, as he says, was destiny. In addition to teaching at AIM Fremont, Wilner still works part-time remotely for an airline in North Carolina. When not working in the classroom or from his home, you can find Wilner engaging in physical activities outside like walking in the great climate of his Cali, or in the kitchen, cooking up some delicious meal with vegetables.
Wilner encourages his students to aim high and continually pursue more education. He credits this philosophy to his successful career which has enabled him to send all four of his kids to a prestigious school in the Philippines, something he states is a responsibility of Pilipino parents. Wilner’s calm exterior covers a vibrant personality and exceptional career, we are so pleased we grabbed him before he retired to the Philippines, and our students benefit from his knowledge and advice. AIM Fremont is lucky to have Wilner as part of the team.
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 back over the coming weeks to find out what Antonio and Leo added to our conversation.
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.