Airline pilot from US pursues his dreams in China

By Deng Rui in Chongqing | | Updated: 2021-05-10 14:37
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David Garcia, 32, left an airline in the United States and has been living his "flying dream" in Chongqing. He is one of 22 foreign pilots for China Express, a regional airline. [Provided to]

Glancing out the left window of the cockpit of his China Express Airlines flight as it approaches the airport in Chongqing, the captain — an American from Seattle, Washington, in the United States — gets an old, familiar feeling. It's the feeling of home.

Control surfaces on the wings whine characteristically as they are slowly deflected. Engine power is reduced to establish the aircraft's correct approach speed and angle of descent. The landing gear is lowered and locked with a thump.

The captain runs down the landing checklist with his copilot, whose head, like his, is clamped in a headset with a protruding microphone. They are intensely focused on the task at hand: safely landing what amounts to a sophisticated, high-powered, tube-shaped barn that technology somehow caused to fly.

The captain, David Garcia, is young — just 32. The instruments have his full attention as he confirms that the plane is precisely on course for the runway and that it's in the right configuration given current weather conditions.

This is Garcia's flying dream. He has been acting out the dream in real life for more than two years now after leaving a job with an airline in the US.

"When landing in Chongqing, I see the skyline and the lights. They're a reminder that you're home," he said.

In 2018, Garcia left GoJet Airlines and became a foreign captain for China Express, the first regional airline in China with headquarters in the provincial-level municipality.

Garcia was born into a pilot's family in Seattle and grew up next to an airport.
Inspired by the adventures of his grandfather and uncle, retired pilots, Garcia showed strong interest in flying as a child.

"Seeing new places and being able to travel the world so quickly is what made me want to fly," he said. "I took my first flying lesson, and ever since then I've been hooked on it."

He got the pilot's certificate at 16, worked for airlines at 22 and became a captain at 25. In addition, Garcia's sister is an engineer at Boeing, a major US aircraft manufacturer. Several family members have earned pilot's certificates to add pleasure to life.

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