Skip to content

Everyday Hero Profile: Leo Lopez

Wed, Feb 21, 2024

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies.

Introducing Leo Lopez, Lead Loadmaster at Lynden Air Cargo in Anchorage, Alaska.


Name: Leo Lopez

Company: Lynden Air Cargo

Title: Lead Loadmaster

On the Job Since: 1999

Superpower: Flexibility 

Hometown: Antiguo Cuscatlan, El Salvador

Favorite Movie: Road to Perdition 

Bucket List Destination: New Zealand 

For Fun: Drawing, painting, cooking

How and when did you start working for Lynden Air Cargo? 
I moved to Bethel in 1997 and started working at the airport there unloading what were then Lynden Electra aircraft. I was working for a subcontractor. When Lynden brought their own operation to Bethel, I was hired to work for Lynden. After that, I worked for Bering Marine for seven years as a warehouse manager and still did some offloading of Hercs. I moved to Anchorage in 2004 and worked for Lynden Air Freight in the warehouse until being hired by Lynden Air Cargo in 2012 as a loadmaster.

What is a typical day like for you?
My schedule is never the same. I could be getting up at 1 a.m. or 9 a.m. I do enjoy some status here because of my seniority, I am assigned to a flight. We might be going to Papua New Guinea or the Lower 48. I am one of the flight crew consisting of a Captain, Co-Pilot, Engineer, and a Loadmaster. For larger flights and mission we can take two loadmasters or mechanics for a total of 7. Now I work whatever is needed. They try to give me a schedule, but I understand that I am ready to go at any time, whatever they need. My very understanding wife is used to the traveling. She used to do the same thing as a disaster response employee for the state. We both had go-bags ready. 

There are a few members of the crew that have been on the job for many years and have done many projects together. When we get together, it’s a well-oiled machine. There are a lot of cool flights I’ve been a part of and crazy flights in terms of cargo. I enjoyed going to Antarctica. I was responsible for unloading four helicopters there, two at a time. That was one of the most interesting. We were stationed in New Zealand at Christchurch. We would leave for an 8-hour flight to McMurdo AFB. That gave me the privilege of saying that I had been on all 7 continents at the same time as Lynden Air Cargo.

I make time to work out and stay fit as part of my job. I pride myself on still being able to do this job well at 46. I feel like I’m at my peak. I lift weights and was a body builder. I train and do exercises to strengthen my legs and back to prevent me from getting injured. 

What has been most challenging in your career?
Shift work and being away from family in the early years. When I moved to Bethel as a young man I was away from my parents and family in California. I met my wife in Bethel, which helped, but I still missed my family. When we moved to Anchorage, it was definitely being on night shift and having four babies. Those were by far the most difficult years in logistics terms. I was commuting one hour each way from our home in the Matanuska Valley. I did that for six years and it really took a toll on me. Also being a loadmaster meant I was sometimes away from home for a month at a time. I missed a few Christmases and anniversaries but when you’re part of a work crew, you all take turns to make sure everyone gets a chance to spend holidays with family. 

What are you most proud of in your career?
Being a principal trainer for new hires and new loadmasters. It’s very rewarding and makes me a better loadmaster. Sometimes they get to a self-sufficiency level and surpass me! I’ve received compliments through the years about being appreciated for the way that I train – how I explain things and make things clear. I’m very proud of my own work and skill as a loadmaster, and there are many good ones at Lynden Air Cargo, so getting to be the one to train them is an honor. We have 10 planes and aim for 20 loadmasters. Sometimes training takes a few months or a full year depending on how busy we are and how much training time is available.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I was born in El Salvador and left in 1990 when I was 13. My family settled in Glendale, CA near Los Angeles where I went to junior and senior high school. I am one of three children. I have an older brother and a younger sister. The whole family now lives in Hennet, CA. 

Right out of high school I was looking for work and an adventure, so I moved up to Bethel to live with my uncle. Throughout my high school years, he would come to California and visit and tell me about Alaska. He was a handyman, so I started working for him. In high school I participated in a job program that trained us in airport tasks like loading bags, driving tugs and parking planes. I knew that I liked that kind of environment, so I applied at the small airport in Bethel and got a job there. 

I met my wife and got married in Bethel and had two babies. Once they got close to school age, we left to move to Anchorage. I applied to Lynden Air Cargo and they offered me the night lead warehouse job. 

I’ve been married to Becka for 25 years. We have three adult children and one finishing up high school-- Amorah, Mira, Galeano and Querian.

What was your first job?
An usher at a movie theatre. 

What would surprise people most about you? 
I am an artist and won a couple of competitions during my younger years. I did a large painting on canvas, a couple of watercolors and pencil drawings. They were entered in a local competition with my school in California and were then entered into a broader competition. I’ve always been an artist doing sketches. I am self-taught. My dad also draws, but never pursued it. My kids continue the family legacy of artists. My daughter has an art degree.   

How do you spend your time outside of work? 
I draw and paint and have built a reputation for decorating everything that I wear (my vest and my gear at work). Through the years I have decorated others’ safety vests. My vests are kind of well-known now among people at Lynden Air Cargo. I have received requests from employees to decorate their safety vests. I’ve done about 20. I usually come up with a personalized concept and design. It can take me several weeks to complete using paint and fabric markers. 

I am the principal cook at the house. I am known for my rice with onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and lots of butter. I have also taught my kids to make and enjoy authentic tacos, not the ground beef and hard-shell kind. We do carne asada, with cilantro, onion and corn tortillas. My kids grew up in Bethel and Anchorage, so they haven’t had much Hispanic culture. I try to show them my family culture when I can.

What do you like best about your job?
Travel. Getting to see the entire world. I’ve been to places I never even thought about or thought I would see. You’ll be on a flight and all of a sudden it hits you and you think ‘I can’t believe I’m here.’ There is no other reason for you to be there except for the job taking you there. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. 

Topics from this blog: Lynden Lynden Air Cargo Lynden Employees Everyday Heroes Featured

Lynden is hiring!

We are looking for motivated, talented, and career-oriented individuals in a variety of positions.

Cookie Settings