No matter what industry or career path you choose to take, it always seems that you’re never completely certain of what you’re getting into until Day 1 on the job. This rings true for aviation, an industry that’s very purpose is to be constantly moving and evolving. For this reason, mentorship is invaluable for those aspiring towards a career in aviation. It’s hard to know just what to expect as a pilot, technician, flight attendant or corporate associate—no matter how extensive your education or training may be. That’s where we call on our Associates to reach out a hand to our next generation of aviators— simply to act as the “connection” that may make all the difference, providing them guidance or even more so, confidence to pursue a career in aviation and lead the future of our industry.
EWR-based First Officer Atittan (Ati) Sritharan has answered our call to reach out a hand, as he knows firsthand that feeling of uncertainty. Ati took a chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot, being the first in his family to pursue a career in aviation. Now, Ati is helping others who are pursuing that same dream, filling the void by mentoring and guiding others who wouldn’t have a connection in the airlines otherwise.
“Ever since I was five years old, it was my dream to be an airline pilot, but I never thought at the time that I would be where I am today,” Ati shared. “I didn’t have the advantage of having family or friends in the industry. It was no easy task, but the journey to get here was a great experience and well worth it.”
Ati completed most of his flight training and became a flight instructor at American Flyers in Morristown, New Jersey, where he met and instructed a young man named Sean Torres.
“I have always been infatuated with airlines since I was a little kid,” Sean said. “When I turned 21, I made the decision to start flight training, searching every flight school in New Jersey to find the best school and instructors. That’s where I met Ati.”
Ati instructed Sean through much of his private pilot lessons until Ati reached his ATP minimums to make the long-anticipated leap to the airlines—landing a First Officer role at Republic Airways. While Ati’s instructing days were behind him, his mentor-turned-friendship with Sean wasn’t. The two kept in close contact, leaning on each other for encouragement and advice through the next stages of their airline careers. Sean, who works for Alaska Airlines in Newark Liberty International Airport, leaned on Ati for guidance as COVID-19 took its toll on the airline industry.
“When COVID-19 hit, I was very uneasy about continuing flight training. I wanted to ‘play it safe’ and not pursue my dream of becoming an airline pilot,” Sean reflected. “I am thankful to have Ati, not only as a best friend but as a mentor. His passion for flying, along with his leadership skills are inspiring to flight students.”
To reignite Sean’s motivation to fly, Ati invited Sean on a Key West turn from EWR on June 11. Sean flew as a standby passenger to and from EYW, using a GoPro to capture footage of the experience from takeoff to landing, even including ATC audio in the post-production for the finished video. Sean was able to interact with the entire crew on the quick trip, and the trip that day was enough to fuel his desire to get back in the air.
“He told me he now understands why I love flying for Republic so much,” Ati said. “He was really impressed by our crew, Company culture and service and that this experience really inspired and motivated him to continue his training.”
“One of my goals in my career is to inspire others and be a resource for aspiring aviators that I wish I had growing up,” Ati said.
Ati, who is also a mentor for Local 357’s New Hire Mentor Program, continued, “This made me realize how much of an impact we can make on people individually and as a Company, and I am really proud to be a Republic crew member.”
We are proud to have you in the Republic family, Ati. It’s easy to see you’re already making an impact on future aviators—elevating the opportunities ahead!