Manny Montez used to watch planes fly overhead from his childhood home in Cuba, dreaming of some day becoming a pilot. When he was 13 his family immigrated to the United States with four suitcases and $50 cash, not speaking a word of English.
Ten years later Manny had learned English, become a U.S. citizen, and was a pilot in the Air Force, flying combat missions in Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in an OV-10. Following Vietnam he instructed in the supersonic T-38, then left the service for an airline career at American Airlines. At the same time, he flew O-2A and F-100 aircraft in the Air National Guard.
During a downturn when pilots were being furloughed, Manny volunteered to take a leave of absence and flew a private B-727 based in Saudi Arabia, operating all over the world. After his return to American, he rose to B777 Captain.
After age-60 retirement, Manny continued to fly and instruct in simulators, and currently flies the Emb-300 as a contract pilot.