February 6, 2024

Interview with an Aviator: Victor Alvarez

February 06, 2024

Interview with an Aviator: Victor Alvarez

Victor Alvarez has had a lifelong passion for aviation – inspired by his father’s career as an aeronautical technician. Born and raised in Venezuela, Alvarez joined the Venezuelan Air Force in 1994 and spent over 15 years advancing through the ranks to become a certified flight instructor.

He flew a variety of aircraft including the King Air 200, Citation I/II, and Falcon 20. After retiring from the Air Force in 2009, Alvarez transitioned to civil aviation, flying private jets such as the Hawker 800XP and Citation CE-500 series. He then joined Jet Linx in 2021 following the Company’s acquisition of Southern Jet in Miami.

When he’s not flying, Alvarez always stays in motion. He completed his first marathon in Miami in 2014 and was immediately hooked. Since then, he has ambitiously pursued his goal of finishing all six World Marathon Majors to earn the coveted Six Stars Medal. His dedication to continually challenge himself has fueled Alvarez’s success as both an elite pilot and athlete.

Alvarez’s first solo flight in 1993.

Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and I am the eldest of three children. I’ve always liked sports, and although I practiced baseball, soccer and swimming, I excelled in running and track. Currently, I have run five of the six major marathons including Boston, London, Berlin, New York and Chicago – and I plan to run the Tokyo marathon in the future.

When did your interest in aviation begin?

My interest in aviation has existed for as long as I can remember. Since I was a child, airplanes were my favorite toys and there was nothing else I wanted more than to be a pilot. I have always enjoyed watching and traveling on planes. I grew up around airplanes because of my father, so that influenced my interest as well.

Are any of your relatives involved in aviation?

My dad was an aeronautical technician in the industry, so I grew up surrounded by the noise and smell of airplane engines – hence my passion and love for aviation and my profession. As a child I remember running around the hangar and watching the planes. My father’s job definitely helped me along my journey.

Alvarez stands with his parents at his graduation from the Venezuelan Air Force.

Describe your career path before coming to Jet Linx.

In 1994, I started my career in the Venezuelan Air Force as a pilot in the Air Transport Wing and Certified Flight Instructor – flying the King Air 200, Citation I and II, and Falcon 20. In 2009, I retired from the Air Force and continued flying the Citation CE-500 series. I started flying the Hawker 800XP in 2015 for a Venezuelan businessman who frequently travelled to the United States (Miami and the Pacific Coast), as well as Central and South America, Caribbean, and Canada. I really enjoyed flying to the U.S. and it just so happened that in 2020 – when the pandemic overtook the country and lockdowns began – I was in Miami. I had to spend the first three months of the pandemic in Miami and it was at that time that I decided to begin the immigration process.

In 2021, I started my career as a Part 135 pilot flying the Hawker 800XP for Southern Jet, and the rest is history. I came to Jet Linx during the acquisition in 2022. Working at Jet Linx has been a blessing for me – both personally and professionally.

What has been your favorite part about working for Jet Linx? 

Jet Linx is much different when compared to Southern Jet or anywhere else I have been. Jet Linx is such a large Company with many different safety and administrative systems to keep things running smoothly. I feel like I work at a large airline with all of the support and technology we use. While it was a big change at first, I’m so happy to represent Jet Linx. I’ve learned a lot and improved professionally as a pilot because of it.

Alvarez in the cockpit with fellow Jet Linx Pilot Juan Vanegas.

What are your thoughts on the safety culture at Jet Linx?

At Jet Linx, safety is our top priority, as it should be for any company responsible for transporting passengers. Our volume of flights combined with unpredictable weather requires extreme care from all involved in our flight operations. Our strong safety culture oversees all factors that may impact the safety of flights, so crews are prepared to handle any situation affecting normal aircraft operations. This thorough approach allows Jet Linx to uphold the highest safety standards, building confidence in our clients and crews alike. I always feel supported and well-trained. I know that if I need assistance, I can speak with someone I know by name and that I trust. That is all part of the amazing safety culture here at Jet Linx.

Did you have a mentor that helped you along your journey to becoming a pilot?

I never had a true mentor. I had a lot of great teachers and instructors, but I persevered a lot on my way to becoming a pilot. When things became difficult for me, I always thought of this quote from Walt Disney: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

What kind of aircraft are you typed on, and how many flight hours do you have?

Currently, I’m typed in the Hawker 800XP, with 1,800 hours in type and 6,500 flight hours total. I am also typed on the Falcon 20, King Air 200, and many types of Citation Jets.

Do you have a favorite aircraft? Or have you ever flown any unique models?

Among the airliners, the Boeing 787 is definitely an airplane that captivates me – I enjoy seeing it and flying on it as a passenger. My favorite private jet is the Falcon 50, since I had the opportunity to ride on one in 1986. My mother worked for the Venezuelan Oil Company (PDVSA) that owned the plane, and we got to take a ride in it. I was 15 years old at the time and that is a very happy memory for me.

What is your best aviation story?

Earlier in my career, during one of the first times I flew into the U.S, I got to fly into restricted airspace. This was in 1998, and I was a Citation II pilot for the Venezuelan Air Force. We had to bring in some hydrazine samples from our F-16 planes to be analyzed by the manufacturers. Hydrazine is a type of rocket propellant and it’s a volatile and dangerous substance. Because it is a hazardous material, we were authorized to land at Cape Canaveral and then fly to Patrick AFB where we went through customs and immigration. After, we then flew to Miami International Airport, where the Venezuelan Air Force had a logistics supply depot at that time. That was a really challenging flight for me, as I had only been flying for three years and it was my first time flying outside of Venezuela. I always look back at that flight with pride because it led me to where I am today, and I have since completed more challenging missions and flown all across the globe.

Alvarez stopping to pose with his family during mile 13 of the Boston Marathon.

Tell us more about your marathon running.

Running has been an activity I’ve enjoyed since I was 15 years old. As a military career requires extensive physical training, I maintained a running regimen even after retiring. In 2008, inspired by my sister Patricia and uncle Nicolas, who both had marathon experience, I ran my first 10K race. I loved the competitive aspect and it motivated me to train for longer distances. In 2011, I completed my first half marathon – a distance that seemed daunting when I started, but became achievable through perseverance and training. At the time, a full marathon seemed out of reach, but many of the half marathons were part of events that also included the marathon. Watching the marathon runners finish, I felt the draw to take on the ultimate challenge. After completing the Miami Half Marathon in 2013, I decided to run the full Miami Marathon the following year. On February 2, 2014, I ran perhaps the best race of my life – my first marathon in Miami.

Completing a marathon requires not just strong physical training, but extraordinary mental preparation. In my opinion, the mental aspect is even more important than the physical. This mental toughness is what separates those who finish their first marathon and never want to run another, from those of us passionate about covering the full 26.2 miles. Proper training for a marathon takes at least 4 months. Many opt to train with a coach, but I dared to go it alone. This required strict self-discipline and planning, as I was solely responsible for achieving my goals. Running the Boston Marathon was one such challenging goal I set for myself. I still have others I aim to accomplish. After finishing my first marathon, I was hooked. While it’s not my favorite distance, it’s the one that pushes me the most to continually improve as an athlete, professional, and person.

After the thrill of completing my first marathon, I immediately registered for my second – the Chicago Marathon in 2014. With one marathon under my belt, I improved my time considerably, knowing what to expect from the grueling distance. Through Chicago, I learned of the six World Marathon Majors – the most prestigious marathons globally where elite runners compete. Every dedicated marathoner dreams of running these events – Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York. Finishing all six earns the coveted Six Stars Medal, recognizing remarkable consistency and effort. That day, I set a new goal – to join the Six Star club. It has not been an easy challenge, but through perseverance I have now completed Chicago in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2022, New York in 2018 and 2022, Berlin in 2019, London in 2021 (my personal record of 3 hours and 45 minutes), and Boston in 2023. I have just one Major left to realize my dream – Tokyo in March 2024! With continued focus and training, I am hopeful and energized to achieve this final milestone on my marathon journey.

In March 2023, I had the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon and check off another major marathon. It’s the oldest, most iconic, and challenging marathon in the world at 127 years and counting. With limited spots for only 30,000 runners (versus 40,000-60,000 in other Majors), gaining entry is an elite accomplishment. Qualifying requires meeting strict time standards that only the most prepared athletes can achieve. The other option is an invitation from a charity partner, which was my route. Over three years, I made myself known to various Boston-area charities since locals get priority. Finally, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts gave me the coveted opportunity – a proud achievement as one of the privileged runners to take on the Boston Marathon. The Red Cross provided a bib number in exchange for meeting a fundraising minimum, helping me fulfill my dream of toeing the line at this legendary race. My whole family was there to watch me and I ran the marathon in just under four hours.

What is something that people may not know about you? Or do you have any hobbies you’d like to share?

Everyone knows that I like to run and train. But some people may not know that I have never used a trainer to prepare myself for marathons, which is very uncommon. Probably 99% of people find a trainer that will push them to become better and improve their time. But me – I take a lot of accountability in myself and have been completely self-trained and taught. I see no problem hiring a trainer to prepare for a race, but it’s not something I have ever done or felt the need to do.

What advice would you share with a younger version of yourself?

Every pilot must stay prepared through ongoing training, but also maintain the right attitude to handle flying’s incredible highs and adverse lows. Patience, determination, courage and knowledge will equip you to make the best decisions when challenges arise. Learn daily and gain experience to become a better pilot and professional. When you achieve a goal, don’t settle – seek continual improvement. I strive to follow this advice myself while growing as a pilot at Jet Linx.

I feel proud to have inspired this mindset in my flying partner and fellow Jet Linx Pilot Juan Vanegas. Though I graduated as a pilot the day he was born in 1994, I’ve guided Juan by example and motivation. He’s not only progressed professionally at Jet Linx, but has also embraced running – propelled by my passion. In just one year of training together, Juan has already finished two half-marathons. I’m certain he’ll soon become a great Captain and marathoner too! Again, never stop striving for more once you reach a goal. Instead, seek to constantly improve yourself and your skills. This commitment to growth has fueled my aviation career and running – two pursuits that require patience, courage and an endless pursuit of excellence.

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