Sky is the limit for PAF's 2 female pilots

Sky is the limit for PAF’s 2 female pilots

FOR two of the Philippine Air Force’s female pilots, the sky is the limit as they consider themselves lucky to have discovered the joy of flying.

PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo and 2Lt. Josefina Bacalso found that being pilots can be empowering and fulfilling.

Castillo, a product of the Philippine Military Academy “Kalasag-lahi” Class of 1997, is the first female pilot of the 205th tactical helicopter wing, and one of the two female pilots from the PMA to join PAF.

“There is a different joy in flying and helping ground forces with their mission, you bring speed to the mission. And during relief efforts, you bring hope to the people,” she said.

Castillo, who finished PAF Flying School in 1999, was the first PAF female officer to go to the Squadron Officer School of the US Air Force at the Air University in Montgomery Alabama. She said she made up her mind to be a pilot during their field training when they would walk for an entire day to reach their location but it would only take them 30 minutes to return to base on board a helicopter.

“Why walk when we can fly?” she said with a smile.

“Especially when flying the UH1H, those are the happiest and most fulfilling moments as a pilot. It brings me so much joy when you can bring immediate help to those in need,” she said.

Bacalso, meanwhile, is at the tail end of her basic training at the Fernando Air Base in Batangas.

The soft-spoken Cebuana has long had a fascination for aircraft — seeing them take off and land near her backyard in Lapu-Lapu City. Her father, a former airman, would also often bring her to base, further sparking her desire to one day earn her wings.

“I joined the military service not because I want to break the gender barrier. I want to be a reflection to little girls out there that our dreams are not impossible, especially in this kind of environment,” she said.

Bacalso is one of the brightest in her class, exuding leadership, determination and “balls” in the male-dominated batch. But, ever the perfectionist, she aims to shine within the four walls of the classroom and inside the cockpit every chance she gets.

“I believe that there is always room for improvement. I’m not perfect. I know I have flaws. Since I am an officer and one day I will lead, I always make sure that the lessons I learn, I take seriously. We must continue to learn every day,” she said.

When she concludes her training early next year, Bacalso hopes to further hone her skills to qualify her to fly one of the most utilized planes of the Air Force.

“Personally, I want to be a transport pilot of the C-130 because I want to give back. My father is a former mechanic of the C-130 and I want to experience how it is to fly that aircraft,” she said.

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