By Roy C. Mabasa
The first female Philippine Air Force aviator has been selected as recipient of a United States Air Force scholarship program which provides undergraduate pilot training to select officers from other nations’ air forces.
According to the US Embassy in Manila, 2nd Lt. Catherine Mae Emeterio Gonzales will attend the Aviation Leadership Program (ALP) 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 said she is excited to learn how to fly a new aircraft, as well as to experience American culture.
A Zamboanga City native, Gonzales was one of the eight female graduates of the Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) Batch Salaknib who were at the top 10 of their class the previous year, the most from any class since women were accepted in the PMA in 1993.
She said her inspiration to become a pilot was the 2013 Zamboanga City siege, an armed conflict between the government forces and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front. According to Gonzales, witnessing the clash firsthand showed to her the important role aviation assets play during such a crisis.
The ALP is designed to build relationships between future leaders of the United States Air Force and other participating air forces, as well as increase overall cooperation and partnership between countries.