Monday, September 21, 2015

Country’s Pride: Exceptional U.S Air Force F-16 Jet Pilot is a Filipina

In a tough field where it is dominated by men, a woman successfully emerged and got recognized for it. A fearless 33-year-old Fil-Am woman accepted the challenge to become the first Filipina to fly the supersonic F-16 fighter jet. She became one of the members of the elite team United States Air Force (USAF) who carried missions in Iraq.

The F-16 fighter jet, commonly known as the “Viper” is a state of the art aircraft. Since its first flight on 1974, it has never stopped its critical structural and avionics upgrades in order to guarantee that it will remain its high-performance system. It was designed as an offense-defense weapon. It is very accurate that it can perform in any weather condition. Through the years, it has proven its worth and played vital roles in most of America’s war. Because of its complex design, only a highly qualified pilot can handle it.

Capt. Monessa Catuncan is the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ramon Catuncan who were originally from Pasay City and Olangapo City was recognized by the Asian Journal for her remarkable accomplishments as an F-16 fighter pilot.

After she graduated as valedictorian in Mesquite High School in Texas in the year 2000, she enrolled in United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado major in aeronautical engineering. She passed the robust entrance examinations and graduated as one of the top student-pilots in her class in 2004. She went through an Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) where she excelled as well. Monessathen began her pilot career flying a T-6 Texan at the Moody Air Force Base in Valdosa, Goergia. A T-6 is the aircraft for basic trainer for all Air Force pilots wannabe. After completing her course in Moody Air Force, she then went to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas and Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls to fly the T-38. During her training Monessa learned the basics of basics of formation flying, offensive and defensive fighter maneuvering, and surface attack bombing techniques. She went through intense studying and was put in a variety of stressful situations in order to pass this training.

When she finished her T-38 course, she was given options to fly among several aircraft such as F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, B-1B Lancer, A-10 Warthog, B-52 Stratofortress, and F/A-22 Raptor. She opted to fly the F-16 Falcon. Again she went through rigid training at Luke Air Force base in Phoenix, Arizona in order to master maneuvering fighter jets and how to control and apply the tactics of the F-16. She finished her F-16 with excellent marks and became the part of the “Lucky number 13” graduates of class 2007. She was the only woman in her group, not to mention the only Filipino to pass the much-coveted pilot course.

According to the Asian Journal in its “While at USAFA, Monessa, aside from pursuing her desired career as part of the US Air Force, served as a Squadron Commander, a Division-1 tennis player, a Glider Instructor Pilot, and a member of the Glider Acrobatic Team, among other essential positions,” Truly, she was able to bring pride and honor not just to the United States but to the Philippines as well. 

Sources : Asian Journal | Manila Livewire | Interaksyon
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