At age 20, Veronica Leacock-Borchardt earned her Associate in Aircraft Maintenance from the Instituto Superior de Formación Profesional Aeronáutica in Panama. She also earned her A&P and FCC radio license from the Autoridad de Aeronautica Civil. That same year she and her 2-year-old daughter moved to the United States. Leacock-Borchardt learned English quickly, studied independently, got her FAA A&P license, and began her career at Horizon Air in Portland, Oregon.
Later, working for Virgin America (now Alaska Airlines) and Delta Air Lines, she gained experience in line maintenance. She continued working for Delta and in maintenance as a tower coordinator at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. To improve her ability to communicate with pilots and maintenance technicians over the radio, she took accent reduction classes.
As the brand ambassador for technical operations, Leacock-Borchardt became the face of Delta and was invited to meet with U.S. senators and advocate for the enforcement of the Open Skies agreement.
Delta leadership also called upon her to model and advocate for the adoption of the airline’s new maintenance uniforms.
After transferring to Delta’s intermediate maintenance department in Atlanta, she was approached by Alaska Airlines to supervise line maintenance in Seattle. She accepted the job and stayed with Alaska Airlines, later moving to San Antonio, Texas, to help Alaska Airlines set up operations with their contracted MRO. That experience led her to United Airlines, where she is now assistant manager of quality control for outside vendor reps.
In her current role, Leacock-Borchardt said she enjoys meeting the technicians working on United’s airplanes and hearing their stories. “I love encouraging them to pursue their licensure and helping them build self-confidence,” she said.
As a technician, she enjoyed flying out on the same airplane she fixed or worked on. “I did a lot of fuel tank dives to resolve maintenance issues related to fuel tanks. To ‘rescue’ a plane on a field trip is a gratifying experience,” she said.
As a public speaker, she advocates for the aviation maintenance industry and for women.
“Aircraft maintenance is a gratifying field, but it can also be brutal for women,” she said. “You are constantly reminded that you are not good enough. It takes a lot of perseverance and belief in your skills to overcome self-doubt.
“We must equip the new generations of technicians with the skills that allow them to fail without quitting. They need to know that it takes patience, practice and consistency to become a sound technician regardless of their gender.”
Leacock-Borchardt especially enjoys speaking at schools and helping children in orphanages. “It keeps me grounded and grateful every day, and most importantly, it allows me to see the kids' smiles,” she said. Recently in Africa, she spoke at multiple schools, delivered supplies to an orphanage, and even delivered a flight simulator to an aviation university.
A U.S. citizen since 2017, she brought her two brothers and dad to the U.S. in 2019. Her dad now works in aircraft maintenance for Delta Air Lines.