The American Dream: Airline Style
Flying|March 2020
A brazilian pilot’s challenging road to success
Les Abend

As the Diamond DA42 Twin Star climbed northeast over Florida’s coastline after departing Daytona Beach’s Runway 7L, I grinned empathetically as Will Romualdo’s multiengine CFI student dealt with the process of correctly managing a simulated engine failure from the right seat.

How many years had it been since I recited, “Dead foot, dead engine, mixture, props, throttle, identify, verify, feather”? The years that had passed weren’t nearly as significant as the fact I was trusting my rear end to a man who wasn’t born until after I had been hired by the airline from which I am now retired. Even more ironic, the combined flight time logged for the pilots seated directly in front of me was less than one-quarter of my career total. But I was still relatively comfortable. Why?

It had been six years since I went flying with Brazilian Will Romualdo in his previous life. After riding in the jumpseat of an Avianca Airlines A319 in summer 2013, I had written “The Brazilian Shuttle.” The article described the experience of roundtrip flights between the downtown Sao Paulo airport and Rio de Janeiro’s Santos Dumont Airport, with runway lengths at 6,300 feet and 4,300 feet, respectively. Will’s competence was as unquestionable then as it is now. So how did a former airline pilot end up as a flight instructor for Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University?

The answer is simple: The American dream. Will had caught the flying bug at 5 years old after sitting on the lap of a captain flying for Varig’s regional airline. (He eventually flew as a first officer for that same captain years later.) Will became immersed in a desktop flight simulator at 9 years old. This magazine had a pivotal role in his future, with some of the translated articles enticing him about the freedoms of unrestricted flying in the United States; airspace in Brazil is highly restrictive for general aviation.

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