Jet Linx System Chief Pilot Named NGPA Board Director
On December 4, the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) announced new Board Directors and Officers, including Jet Linx System Chief Pilot, Ari Sarmento. Sarmento, a member of NGPA for the last twenty years, will begin a two-year term as Board Director beginning January 1, 2021. Sarmento seeks to broaden diversity in aviation careers – both at Jet Linx and abroad – in this new role.
“My appointment as a Board Director with the NGPA serves as an example of how Jet Linx desires more diversity, inclusion and acceptance in our company,” Sarmento said. “I’m proud to lead by example and to serve and illuminate the possibilities that people in the LGBTQ community can aspire to and reach.”
The NGPA began in 1990 as a grassroots organization but has grown to become the largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer aviation professionals and enthusiasts from around the world. Through education, outreach programs, and social events, the organization encourages members of the LGBTQ community to begin aviation careers; fosters equal treatment of LGBTQ aviators through advocacy and outreach; promotes aviation safety and provides an affirming social and professional network for LGBTQ aviators. The NGPA also provides scholarships, counseling, networking opportunities, inclusion training and more to its members.
Jet Linx Commitment to Diversity
Sarmento’s first interaction with the NGPA began more than twenty years ago in Dallas when he worked with American Airlines performing introduction flights for a local chapter of the NGPA. His involvement as a member began in 2000 when he acquired a role with a corporate charter operator after attending an NGPA career fair in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In the past, Sarmento operated as a volunteer, attending conferences and advocating for the organization in a personal capacity.
In November 2019, team members from Jet Linx Aviation, including Sarmento and Dee Ruleaux, Director of Recruiting and Industry Partnerships, attended the NGPA’s inaugural Inclusion Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. The summit equipped attendees with the tools to foster a safe and welcoming environment and addressed inclusion as a key component on top of diversifying a workforce. This summit marked Jet Linx’s first involvement with the organization, but it certainly won’t be the last.
“You can hire someone that’s different than you, and now you’re sitting in an airplane with them for three days. If you don’t understand them and there’s no education about inclusion and mutual respect, diversity doesn’t matter much,” Sarmento said. “However, Jet Linx is taking steps in the right direction, especially in our specific sector in aviation.”
Following panel discussions and keynote speakers from the Inclusion Summit in 2019, Sarmento planned actionable steps to improve inclusion at Jet Linx with the help of the NGPA’s Inclusion Training Team. The NGPA has conducted numerous workshops and classes for employee unions, airline leaders, and on aviation university campuses. While the pandemic hampered plans for in-person training, Sarmento still plans to include this type of education in the near future.
Expanding Aviaton Career Opportunity as NGPA Board Director
Looking ahead to 2021 and his role as a Board Director, Sarmento hopes to expand the reach of the NGPA into different sectors and to continue providing scholarships that create opportunities for students aspiring to gain skills that will lead to aviation careers.
“I want to expand our presence in the corporate aviation world and in the charter market,” Sarmento explained. “Many of our members hail from airlines, but I think it’s important to educate people on the opportunities for career paths in Part 91 and Part 135.”
Speaking of aviation career paths, Sarmento added, “The NGPA does great work in providing scholarships. Just last year more than $150,000 in scholarships were awarded to twenty different individuals, fueling dreams that may have otherwise faded.”
For more than twenty years, the NGPA has offered scholarships, but in the spirit of diversity and inclusion, NGPA scholarships are open to all applicants regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Those submitting applications must demonstrate their support for the LGBTQ community through their activism and volunteer activities while also being an active member or ally member of the NGPA.
To learn more about the NGPA, visit their site: www.ngpa.org