Hailed for her phenomenal performance, Capt. Monessa Catuncan went viral for being the first Filipina F-16 fighter pilot of the Elite U.S. Air Force. Netizens were impressed that a woman is able to achieve this – and this Pinay is truly an impressive young lady.
Cantuncan grew up in the Philippines, with the family having lived in Pasay City and Olongapo City. Her family later migrated to the US. It was during her second year at Mesquite High School, Texas, that Catuncan dreamed of becoming an astronaut after watching the movie, “Armageddon”.
Her dad, Ramon Catuncan explained how much hard work and perseverance she would have to do before fulfilling that dream. Some people would have been discouraged after hearing that, but Catuncan used those words as inspiration to work harder to reach for her dreams. With that, she graduated as Valedictorian in High School.
Her impressive track record got her the attention of the U.S. Coast Guard. She was later invited to be a helicopter in Connecticut back in 1999. Grabbing the opportunity, the young woman accepted the offer and went to Connecticut. But 2 weeks of learning how to fly a helicopter made her realize she wanted to fly a real airplane!
So, she studied aeronautical engineering at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Just like in High School, this wonderful Pinay lady graduated at the top of her class in Undergraduate Pilot Training. She was offered a job right after graduation but she chose to improve her skills by training at Moody Air Force, Laughlin Air Force Base and Sheppard Air Force Base.
Her hard work paid off as she would soon get the chance to pilot no less than the F-16 Falcon, also known as the Viper. She trained at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona – and graduated with flying colors, gaining admiration from her teachers and netizens who greatly admired her skills. What impressed people more is that she was the only woman in her class, and she would become the first Pinay to be among the F-16 fighter pilots of the elite U.S. Air Force!
What is an F-16 Viper?
Designed as an air superiority day fighter, the F-16 Viper is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the U.S. Air Force.