Mission Accomplished: 3 Pinay pilots who soared high during pandemic

by Bernie V. Franco
Aug 10, 2021
GIRL POWER. (From left) First Officer May Marie Segovia, Second Officer Marie Rose Maximo, and Captain Yvonne Sunga compose the all-female pilot crew that flew PAL Airbus 330 in October 2020 to fetch repatriated Filipino workers stranded in Riyadh due to the pandemic.
PHOTO/S: Facebook (Cielo Villaluna)

Kuwento ng female empowerment ang pagpapalipad ng tatlong Pinay pilots ng isang wide-body aircraft ng Philippine Airlines (PAL) noong nakaraang taon.

Ang lulan ng eroplano: mga stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWS) sa Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, na sinundo pauwi sa Pilipinas dahil sa pandemya.

Buong pagmamalaking sambit ni Second Officer Marie Rose Ison Maximo, 47, sa PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal, na “mission accomplished” ang pagpapalipad nila ng Airbus 330.

Aniya, “Last October 14-15 2020, the government arranged a repatriation flight from Riyadh to Manila to fly our stranded OFW’s back home, who are stranded during the lockdown because of COVID 19.”

Kasama ni Marie sa flight sina Captain Yvonne Sunga, 54, at First Officer May Marie Segovia, 44.

Silang tatlo ay empleyado ng PAL at mga licensed pilots.

Naniniwala si Marie na malaking milestone ang flight nila na iyon para sa mga kababaihan.

Hindi raw ito ang unang beses na nagpalipad ng eroplano ang isang all-female flight crew, pero first time na isang all-female crew ang nagpalipad ng isang wide-body craft.

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Pagbabahagi ni Marie, “There are several instances of an all-female flight with the narrow-body aircraft, A320.

“However, this is the first time for the all-female wide body aircraft and fly out of Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive cars.”

Mas maliit ang narrow-body aircraft na iisa lang ang aisle, kumpara sa widebody craft na double-aisle.

Nakapalitan ng mensahe ng PEP.ph si Marie via email last August, 8, 2021.

Kuwento ni Marie, ang repatriation flight mula Riyadh papuntang Maynila ay nangyari noong October 14, 2020, dakong 21:10H (11:10 p.m.), at may local time na 02:10H (2:10 a.m.).

Lumapag ang eroplano sa Pilipinas ng 12:55H o 12:55 p.m. ng October 15, 2020.

Sabi ni Marie, “It was a mission accomplished, a special flight for us because we know how happy and excited our passengers as they stepped in the aircraft.

“As the all-female crew, we’re delighted to know that it was a milestone for Philippine Airlines being the FIRST ALL-FEMALE CREW FOR WIDE-BODY AIRCRAFT, AIRBUS 330.

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“We’re honored to be the crew of that flight.”

The three female pilots (L-R) Second Officer Marie Rose Maximo, Captain Yvonne Sunga, and First Officer May Marie Segovia.

Ibinahagi rin ni Marie kung paano pinipili ang mga pilotong magkakasama sa isang flight, “We’ve been with both male and female on our flights.

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"But because the composition of pilots per flight are system generated, we really don’t know who we end up flying with until our schedule is out.”

Pero para kay Marie, hindi importante kung puro babae, puro lalaki, o magkahalo ang flight crew.

Ang mahalaga ay “how well we accomplished the task of safely transporting passengers from and to their destinations.”

Ipinaliwanag din ni Marie kung bakit espesyal ang nangyaring pagpapalipad niya at dalawa pang babaeng piloto.

“Since the ratio of men is greater than the ratio of the women in the world of aviation, flying with all-female crew becomes unique.

“Actually, only five (5) percent of pilots globally and about five (5) percent in Philippine Airlines [are women].

“Due to our rarity, our flight was significant.

“As for Yvonne, It was also empowering for her to be the pilot in command of the flight to offer service to our countrymen, the OFWs."

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Kinumpirma rin ni Marie na siya at si Yvonne ay dating mga flight attentands ng PAL, gaya ng mga nasulat noon.

Nagsimula raw bilang PAL flight attendant si Yvonne noong 1990 at pumasok naman si Marie noong 1994.

Pagkalipas ng mga taon bilang flight attendants, kumuha sila ng Aviation course.

Naging pilot trainee si Marie noong 2012 at na-hire bilang pilot noong 2015.

Kuwento niya, “We took Aviation with Philippine Airlines Aviation School year 2002 for Yvonne, and 2012 for me. Now I’m 27 years with the company.

“As for Yvonne, she joined PAL Aviation School [in] 2002, then was employed 2004.”

Dugtong niya, "As for Maya, she started flying with Philippine Air Force...

"She started her career with PAL 2000 and was qualified to fly Airbus 320 and 340 during the first part of her service and now flying the Airbus 330 and 350.”

Bilang first officer pilot, si Maya ang second in command.

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Sa kanilang tatlo raw, si Marie ang junior pilot, “I am the most least experience as a pilot or as we say the junior one.

"A second officer or, as we say, third in command to fly the Airbus 330 and 340. I am a cruise pilot."

Pahayag pa ni Marie tungkol sa kanilang kapitan na si Yvonne: “Yvonne has been flying as a pilot for 17 years for Philippine Airlines.

“She also flew the Airbus 330 and 340 , but when she gained her 2500 flying hours, she moved to Airbus 320 as 2nd in command for the A320...

“And later on promoted as a Captain, where she spent several years of gaining flying experience in the narrow-body aircraft.

“She now commands a commercial wide-body aircraft A330 and A350.”


Ani Marie, hindi raw mahalaga ang gender sa pagiging piloto.

“There is no difference when you fly to both male and female flight crew.

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“As [Capt.] Yvonne always quote: ‘IN FLYING THERE IS NO GENDER.’

“As long as there is respect between people, gender is not an issue.

“It’s not a question of who handles the flight well…but how you are able to do the task.”

Umaasa rin daw si Marie na darating ang araw na mas lalaki pa ang porsiyento ng female pilots sa PAL.

Nabanggit din ni Marie ang flying time ng isang piloto ay katumbas ng experience.

“With experience, you gain knowledge. With knowledge, you gain confidence.

“We need to pass all ground, simulator, and flight trainings.

“In spite of our positions/ranks we are still willing to learn more. In flying learning never stops.”

Umaasa raw si Marie, gayundin ang kanyang mga co-pilots na sina May at Yvonne, na magsisilbi silang inspirasyon sa mga kababaihang nangangarap din na maging piloto.

Walang dudang male-dominated ang industriya ng aviation. Pero hindi raw ito dapat maging hadlang sa kahit sinumang babaeng nais maging piloto.

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Payo ni Marie, “We hope to inspire more women to open their doors to the world of aviation.

“Stay strong and focused. Here we learn the dynamicity of life. Learning is infinite.

“It is not an easy journey. Push yourselves to test your limits.

“Do not lose your sense of curiosity because it will give a spark to new horizon.

“When discouraged just focus on your goal. Be patient.

“As some people asked Yvonne, ‘Ma’am mahirap bang making piloto? She always tells them, ‘Lahat naman na bagay mahirap. But once you put your heart into it, walang bagay na di kayang abutin.’

“Don’t let yourself wonder to the question of ‘What if?’ Always dream big and conquer success.”


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GIRL POWER. (From left) First Officer May Marie Segovia, Second Officer Marie Rose Maximo, and Captain Yvonne Sunga compose the all-female pilot crew that flew PAL Airbus 330 in October 2020 to fetch repatriated Filipino workers stranded in Riyadh due to the pandemic.
PHOTO/S: Facebook (Cielo Villaluna)
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