Civil Air Patrol recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, with a question-and-answer session with Senior Member Bianca Vasquez of the Hawaii Wing’s Maui Composite Squadron.
Thanks to her experiences in the Hawaii Wing, especially as a pilot, Senior Member Bianca Vasquez wants to share the joy of flight with others – especially fellow women of color.
“I believe that anyone can be a great pilot, and that anyone should have the opportunity to experience the beauty of flight,” Vasquez said..
Now a senior majoring in business management with a concentration in marketing at Menlo College in California’s Silicon Valley, she fondly remembers where, when, and how it all started – as a Civil Air Patrol cadet.
Why did you join Civil Air Patrol?
I joined the Maui County Composite Squadron in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore in high school. I found myself sticking to the program because I enjoyed the mission-centric dynamics, working in a team, and meeting new people.
What specific lesson/experience from CAP has influenced your career or your life?
“What got you into aviation, and how are you a pilot?” I get this question a lot because I am a Latina and first-generation pilot. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 1% of pilots are women of color.
I’m always proud, humbled, and grateful to respond that CAP provided the opportunity for me to fall in love with aviation – after my first glider flight I was hooked.
After many busy school days, long shifts working at Subway, and tiring nights studying, my hard work paid off. On July 4th of 2018, I earned my private pilot certificate at the age of 17.
I found a welcoming and supportive community in CAP, and I was eager to find ways to share my passion with others. As a cadet I had the opportunity to teach aerospace education lessons at wing events, lead community service activities, lead CAP events, and mentor aspiring pilots.
Today, I continue these activities while serving as a senior member and mentor with CAP.
What else should we know about you?
A plane doesn’t care about what the person that’s handling the controls looks like. I believe that anyone can be a great pilot, and that anyone should have the opportunity to experience the beauty of flight.
With that in mind, my two Latina friends and I started a nonprofit called Women of Color in Aviation in an effort to make a tangible difference in cultivating a more diverse aviation community where aviators can feel safe, welcomed, and supported.
We are actively working toward this goal by creating mentorship programs, prioritizing professional development workshops, and providing scholarship opportunities.
Another one of my passions is flying with a purpose. My friend Tessa Coulter and I use her Cessna 150 to supply humanitarian flights between the islands of Hawaii. We work with local nonprofits to help with puppy rescues, transportation of feminine sanitary products to remote locations, and community air show events.
I plan to pursue a career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force upon graduating from college. CAP introduced me to this exciting and rewarding career path, and I’m honored for this opportunity to share my story with others.
I hope that I’m making my fellow Hispanos proud. ¡Feliz mes nacional de la herencia hispana!