Most Inspiring Filipina Aviators Around the World | PAF /USAF

The Philippines has never ran out of exceptionally women in various fields wherein men are dominant.And as our tribute of commemoration to International Women’s day herewith we feature some of the most inspiring Filipina pilots, aircraft crews and flight instructors who joined the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and U.S Air Force as well.

We culled this list of DWDD, ASIAN Journal and other sources online. Photos in this post are credited to its respective owners.


PAFL Col Major Maria Consuelo Nunag Castillo

First lady tactical pilot of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing and was among the two (2) first female pilots from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to join the Philippine Air Force (PMA) and a member of PMA Class of 1997.

Castillo joined the 205th THW after her graduation from the Philippine Air Force Flying School in 1999.
PAFL Col Major Maria Consuelo Nunag Castillo - MGAC /PAF
The first lady officer/pilot to be checked out to the PAF’s famous workhorse for internal security operations, the Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter, a seasoned veteran on the field and involved in numerous counter-insurgency operations…

She also marked another first for PAF Lady Officers, for being the first to go on schooling (Squadron Officer School) to the US Air Force, Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.

Captain Rizza L Simon

She was the First lady Philippine Air Force (PAF) Rescue pilot of the 505th Search and Rescue Group (505SRG).
Captain Rizza L Simon - MGAC / PAF

A former Aviation Cadet of the Philippine Air Force Flying School Class of 1996, she hails from Quezon City and a graduate of the BS Electronics and Communications Engineering at De la Salle University.

She served the PAF’s premier rescue unit, the 505th Search and Rescue Group after her graduation, where she flew the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter…

Capt Simon lost her life in the line of duty on 18 May 2001 during the recovery operation of the crashed Bell 407 helicopter owned by JAKA Corporation at Palawan… The difficult terrain and bad weather hampered the operation as bodies from the aircraft were being transported to Puerto Princesa, Palawan… As a result, a fatal helicopter accident claimed her life during night recovery operation. Also killed in the flight accident, her Pilot-in-Command Capt Jesus Albert T Tablada (A member of the Officer Candidate School Class of 1992), Capt Waren Lim (Medical Officer), Capt Vicente Castillo (PAF Intel Officer), Sgt Nemecio Bagarin, A1C Christopher Franco and A1C Mario Datu.

AIRCRAFT CREWS /Mechanic /Gunners

Besides pilots, the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing women soldiers also acted as crew to the PAF’s ever reliable workhorse the UH-1H Huey Helicopter, most significant as mechanics and gunners.
Here, the women Huey crews proved themselves well in counter-insurgency operations, working hand-in-hand with their male counterparts…

AW1C Dolores Dela Cruz

The first female helicopter mechanic/gunner of the PAF is and became a Huey Warrior in the 1990s.
After serving the 205THW, she eventually got commissioned as an officer and served as a maintenance officer with 505th Search and Rescue Group and she is now a LTC assigned at GHQ, Camp Aguinaldo..

AW2C Emily Llorin

Among the long line of distinguished lady Huey Warriors is then AW2C Emily Llorin of the 206th Tactical Helicopter Squadron and she hails from Bicol… She was awarded the Gold Cross Medal for her action as a Huey Gunner for her contribution in providing tactical air support to an AFP Joint Task Force in Tumapoy Island, Tawi-Tawi during operations against the Abu Sayyaf Terrorist Group… After a fine service with the 205THW, SSg Emiliy Llorin Ferrer is now happily married and presently assigned at HPAF, Villamor Air Base… PAF / MCAG

Bomber / Striker “ Femme Fatales”

FEMME FATALES OF 15TH STRIKE WING PAFFour out five former Female Aviation Cadets of Philippine Air Force Class of 1997 joined the primary bomber/strike unit of the Philippine Air Force after their graduation.

They are the first Lady/Pilot Officers of the 15th Strike Wing, divided into two flying the Rockwell OV-10 Bronco Surface Attack Aircraft and Hughes MG-520 Attack Helicopter.

The Femme Fatales of PAF

All four ladies performed valuable service in the field, flying counter-insurgency operations… One died in a flight accident (CPT “AMAZING GRACE” BALOYO) and the other (CPT RITA REDUTA FABIAN) resigned and joined the Cebu Pacific Airlines:

Lt Col Maribelle Belila Manangbao is from Iloilo and a graduate of BS Nursing from Saint Paul College of Iloilo. She flew the MG-520 Attack helicopter. She has a Masters Degree from the Asian Institute for Management…

Captain Mary Grace P Baloyo hails from Silay City and a graduate of BS Airline Management from the Technical Institute of Cebu City. She flew the OV-10 Bronco Attack Aircraft and died in the line of duty during an OV-10 flight accident at Clark Air Base on 26 March 2001…

Lt Col Lilian Victoria Dela Cruz Busti is from Davao where she took up BA Communication Arts at Ateneo de Davao University. She flew the MG-520 Attack Helicopter and is presently assigned at the 220th Airlift Wing flying the Fokker F-27…

Captain maria Rita Reduta Fabian hails from Libon, Albay where she took up BS in Nursing at the Ago Medical and Educational Center. She flew the OV-10 Bronco Attack Aircraft, then later resigned and joined Cebu Pacific Airlines. PAF / MCAG

According to DWDD She is presently serving with the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing flying Bell 412 helicopters.

Distinguished Flight Officers (Pioneers Female Aviators)

The first Female Aviation Cadets of the Philippine Air Force Flying School started their training in 1993 and after a grueling military, cadetship and flying training they graduated as regular officers and pilots.

Lady Officers who became PAFFS Flight Instructors after graduating as pilots:

  • Bella P Bergardo from Magallanes of Cavite (now married to Mister Paiton) flies with Cebu Pacific Airlines
  • Rona M Catunao of Abangay of Dingle, Iloilo (Married to her PAFFS classmate Barney Charles Guevarra . Now flying with the Philippine Airlines)
  • Emily V Kalalo of Lipa City from Batangas (married to her PAFFS classmate Loreleo Jaen) is now working in the United States as a nurse and living happily with her family
  • Stella Marie Salome S Salon of Zamboanga City Stella Marie Salome S Salon (Married to then Capt Victorio of PMA Class of 1995) and Rozelle B Salvosa still serves the PAF/AFP.
  • Rozelle B Salvosa of Makati of Metro Manila
After a distinguished service with the PAF three of the trailblazing Lady Pioneers left the military service.

Another worth to mention is the fearless 33-year-old FilAm 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.

Capt. Monessa Catuncan 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.

Capt. Monessa Catuncan 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. Monessa then 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

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.

Captain Catuncan and PAF’s distinguished PAF Female Pioneers greatly inspired Filipino Women who chose military careers and other fields as well, of which many served with distinction to their people and country.

Credits : This wiki-type post would not be possible without the help of DWDD / Asian Journal /PAF / MGAC as our main source.

Image credits: All photos belongs to DWDD / MGAC/PAF