A female aviator of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was selected for the Aviation Leadership Program (ALP) of the U.S. Air Force.
2nd Lt. Catherine Mae Gonzales is the first female aviator from the country's air force to be part of the scholarship program, which provides undergraduate pilot training to select officers from other countries' air forces.
Gonzales was among the top 10 members of her graduating class at the Philippine Military Academy. She will attend the program from February 2018 to May 2019.
Gonzales will get 164 hours of flight training in the T-6A Texan II aircraft, as well as 239 hours of flight operations ground training.
Gonzales, who was inspired to be a pilot after witnessing the 2013 siege in her hometown of Zamboanga, said she is excited to learn how to fly a new aircraft.
“Since then, I started to dream of becoming a pilot,” Gonzales told the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
“During those times, I really felt a great eagerness to defend my hometown, and I thought I could be of great help to that mission from above, since insurgents are vulnerable from this point," she added.
Gonzales said she feels proud that the PAF selection board chose her to attend the program.
"Serving my country as a female officer shows how the military profession has matured and opened for great changes by allowing us, female officers, to lead," she said.
The ALP is designed to build relationships between future leaders of the U.S. Air Force and other participating air forces, as well as increase overall cooperation and partnership between countries.