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Zamboangeña pilot gets US aviation invite

By Yas D. Ocampo

DAVAO CITY – A Zamboanga native who survived the siege on her hometown is headed to the United States after the U.S. Air Force picked to train her for an Aviation Leadership Program (ALP).

The United States Embassy said Philippine Military Academy alumna 2nd Lt. Catherine Mae Gonzales will be the first female aviator from the Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s dossier of pilots joining the ALP.

The ALP is a United States Air Force scholarship program which provides undergraduate pilot training to select officers from other nations’ air forces.

Gonzales was among the top 10 of her class at the PMA.

She will fly to the US and undergo various trainings from February 2018 to May 2019.

“During the program, she will receive 164 hours of flight training in the T-6A Texan II aircraft, as well as 239 hours of flight operations ground training. Gonzales says she is excited to learn how to fly a new aircraft, as well as to experience American culture,” the US Embassy said.

Gonzales’ inspiration to become a pilot stems from witnessing the important role aviation assets played during the 2013 Zamboanga Siege, which took place in her hometown.

“Since then, I started to dream of becoming a pilot,” Gonzales said.