“I want to be a captain”, Nica Flying Student in Costa Rica

Natalia Rojas is about to graduate from a private pilot and airline management career.

By Katherine Estrada Tellez (Confidential)

HAVANA TIMES — It’s noon and Natalia Rojas, after telecommuting in Amazon customer service, is getting ready for the hands-on aviation classes she takes once or twice a week at Tobias Bolanos Airport in San Jose, in Costa Rica. She wears her uniform, dark blue pants with a short-sleeved white shirt with the insignia of the Costa Rican Aviation School and her “pilot wings”, the silver insignia shaped like airplane wings used in the profession.

Rojas is a 22-year-old Nicaraguan who lived in Ticuantepe, Managua. She emigrated almost four years ago to the neighboring country to the south and is now on the verge of obtaining her private pilot’s diploma. “Ever since I was very little, I remember that every time the planes passed, I was like ‘Aaah…! (admiring) and saying, “look how beautiful,” Rojas said. The emotion that airplanes caused her marked her so much that she began to dream of becoming a pilot.

Yes, just dreaming, because living in Nicaragua the idea of ​​becoming a pilot seemed unrealistic, commented Rojas. “First, because of the economic situation; second, because there were no viable options (study centers),” she says. In 2017, she started a civil engineering degree at Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), but in 2018 she had to drop out and leave the country. “I actually never really felt like it was my thing. I didn’t feel identified with the pitch,” Rojas mentions.

The socio-political crisis of 2018 directly affected thousands of Nicaraguan families, forcing many people to emigrate for security reasons. “I am the younger of two sisters. I have always lived with my parents, I left them and coming to Costa Rica alone affected me a lot,” she says.

Get closer to your dream

Amid the feelings born of migration, Rojas, who was 18 when she arrived in Costa Rica, decided to focus on achieving her dream: “I’m going to study aviation,” she told herself. Her aunt, an air hostess by profession and resident of Costa Rica, encouraged her to make the decision.

She looked for a job that would cover her expenses, researched options, and started studying. Initially, a bachelor’s degree in Air Transport Management at Universidad Autonoma de Centroamerica, UACA.

“I first started with it as a senior technician to have a chance to work,” she explained. Then she found the Costa Rican Aviation School (ECDEA), where she began studying to become a private pilot. “From the first time I contacted them, they invited me to take a tour of the facilities. They showed me the planes and told me the whole career process,” she commented appreciatively.

Natalia Rojas doing the “walk around”, that is to say the inspection of the plane before takeoff, in one of her practical lessons at the Costa Rican airport Tobias Bolanos. Photo: Katherine Estrada Tellez.

Flight school was the guide to get him on the right path to his goal. She’s only a few practical classes away from completing her degree, and every time she flies she’s convinced the sky is her workspace. “I feel a lot of emotions, but I try to stay calm and control them, because I know the responsibility in my hands,” she explains.

Stealing, “an act of empowerment”

“Flying is an act of empowerment for me,” assures Rojas, because getting to this stage of his studies involved a lot of hard work, commitment and discipline.

The ECDEA flight school, which has been training professional pilots for 28 years and, since then, about thirty women have graduated, three of whom are Nicaraguan nationals.

Rojas is the only woman in her class. “We’re breaking the myth that women can only be cabin crew,” she says. In Nicaragua, it is unusual to hear that a woman would like to be a pilot, she mentions, here it is more common, because there are more options, and at the same time, she motivates people interested in seek out and be encouraged to study this profession. .

Natalia Rojas in her first practical lesson. “It was very exciting to take off and put everything I learned into practice,” she says. Photo: courtesy.

She commented that her former classmates in Nicaragua are surprised to see her studying what in the past was considered just a fantasy. “They say to me: ‘Naty, you did it’ and I realize that you can be where you want to be, no matter your nationality, if you are a man or a woman, you can achieve everything you want. want,” she advises. .

Being a private pilot is only one step among others in the profession. She wants to be a commercial pilot and work for Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, and become a captain or their first female pilot to fly, the highest cabin crew position. “It takes a lot of effort, a lot of flying hours, working with several companies and climbing the ladder, making progress. I think dreaming is power,” she concludes.

Read more about Nicaragua here on Havana Times.

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