Culture

America’s First Latina Fighter Pilot Was Rejected Twice Before The U.S. Air Force Accepted Her

Before Olga E. Custodio became the first Latina Air Force pilot, she faced a slew of rejections in life for being a Puerto Rican woman. Even though she was an enrolled college student at just 16 years old, her application to join ROTC was rejected because she was a woman. She always knew she wanted to become a pilot, and worked in aviation in any capacity she could–even in accounting for Puerto Rico’s International Airline. She applied to the U.S. Air force three times before she was accepted.

When she finally was accepted into the training program, Custodio’s father, a military vet, called the governor of Puerto Rico himself to tell him the news.

Olga E. Custodio’s family moved so often, she went to schools in Taiwan, Iran, and Paraguay.

Credit: @JLANSolutions / Twitter

Her father was a sergeant in the United States Army, which meant that Custodio grew up as a ‘military brat.’ The whole family would relocate as her father was assigned to different military stations around the world. “I started kindergarten and 1st grade in Taiwan,” Custodio told Fox News Latino. “From there we moved to New Jersey, followed by a move to Iran then Paraguay before my father retired. I saw the world before I was 15 years old. I liked the feeling of being in the air.”

Custodio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and their family returned to the island when she was 15 years old. She graduated high school a year later.

Credit: @flyLAXairport / Twitter

She was immediately accepted into the University of Puerto Rico, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree at a young age. She applied to join the ROTC program at the University but was rejected for being a woman. Only men were admitted into the program at the time. 

“Why aren’t the women leading?” Custodio asked herself at every job before entering the military.

Credit: @TheFogHornNews / Twitter

She worked a lot of different jobs, and at every one of them, she told the Daily Mail, “I always saw men in the leadership roles. I asked myself: “Why aren’t the women leading? I could lead that!” She met her now-husband, Edward Custodio, and had two children. 

Custodio applied to become an Air Force officer three times before she was accepted.

Credit: Olga Custodio / Facebook

“When my daughter was three years old, I had all the DoD regulations available to me,” Custodio told Fox. “I knew the rules and applied to be an officer for the third time.” Custodio brought her husband and marched into the Headquarters for the Air Force Military Personnel Center to apply to the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School. She was accepted. There, she talked to a sergeant who asked her to name three career choices she would like to have for herself. “I told him I would be a pilot, a pilot and a pilot,” she told Fox.

It took her two years of training to become the first Latina to complete the U.S. Air Force military pilot training program.

Credit: @JMA_Solutions / Twitter

She first had to complete the Flight Screening Pilot Officer Training program before she could enter the Officer Training School. There, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Finally, that qualified her for Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. A year later, she graduated, making her the first Latina to complete the U.S. Air Force military pilot training.

Her first assignment was also historic–she was the first female flight instructor at her base.

Credit: @NATCA / Twitter

At that base, she trained others to fly the Northrop T-38 Talon, which is a two-seat supersonic jet trainer. Custodio was actually awarded an Aviation Safety Award during her time as an instructor after she safely landed a plane that had been compromised after a bird flew into the jet’s engine during bad weather. 

Custodio served our country for 23 years and 10 months before retiring.

Credit: @SISOKlahoma / Twitter

She retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in October 2003, after spending the bulk of her career teaching others how to be effective Air Force pilots. Today, she says she flies for free and for fun. When her friends who own planes ask her to take them for a ride, she happily accepts.

“My mantra is ‘Querer es poder,'” she said.

Credit: @iamalatinogreek / Twitter

“I believe everyone has the potential to do it. They just have to believe in themselves enough to actually do it,” she tells Fox. She also said that she “was not out to prove anything.” She didn’t even know she was “the first anything.” She worked hard for herself and her family, and the accolades followed.

Today, she runs a documentary production company in San Antonio, Texas.

@BigDifference / Twitter

She is also the Vice President of the Hispanic Association of Aviation and Aerospace Professionals (HAAAP). The organization takes young Latinos in the San Antonio area into the cockpit and into control towers to offer more opportunities for growth in the field. Oh, and she also directs a Puerto Rican folk dance group, just for fun.

READ: The First Latina In Space Wants To Use Her Experience To Produce More STEM Graduates

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Instagram’s Beloved Summer Read Mexican Gothic To Become Limited Hulu Series Produced By Kelly Ripa

Fierce

Instagram’s Beloved Summer Read Mexican Gothic To Become Limited Hulu Series Produced By Kelly Ripa

Penguin Random House

During these times, Noemí Taboada is more than just the heroine of the novel Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. She’s also become the hero come to rescue us from our pandemic boredom. The story of the 1950s Mexican socialite summoned to save her vulnerable cousin has entranced summer readers stuck at home during the pandemic and without much new material to thrive on. Sales for the horror novel soared just as soon as the book hit shelves this past June and now fortunately for fans, news about the novel gets better.

Hulu has picked up Mexican Gothic and given it the greenlight a drama series!

The series comes from Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ Milojo Productions and ABC Signature.

According to Deadline, Moreno-Garcia is set executive produce the series alongside Milojo’s Ripa, Consuelos, and Albert Bianchini.

Moreno-Garcia is a Mexican-born author currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the best-selling author of Gods of Jade and Shadow, Certain Dark Things and Untamed Shore. Speaking to Deadline, the author explained that she is “excited to see the novel come to life and to meet the talented, diverse crew and cast members that will take us on this journey.”

“We feel like we hit the literary jackpot, and cannot wait to bring Silvia’s gorgeous writing to life, together with Hulu,” Ripa also commented in a statement.

Mexican Gothic was published this past June and welcomed with critical acclaim.

The book follows Noemí Taboada, a young socialite living in 1950s Mexico City who takes to the Mexican countryside and the mountains of Hidalgo after being summoned by her cousin who is worried that her new husband, a rich and enigmatic Englishman, might be attempting to kill her.

But it’s not just the mystery and intrigue of the story that will captivate readers. For those interested in rich histories and exploring their own roots, this book will bring so much intrigue if you haven’t already read it.

At the heart of Moreno-Garcia’s story is an examination of the effects of eugenicism and colonization in Mexico. 

Speaking to NPR about her novel, Moreno-Garcia explained that the inspiration for it came from a real town in Mexico that had been mined by the Spanish and overtaken in the 1800s by British forces.

“It has an English cemetery, just like in my book. And that is what inspired the novel. I went there one time and I was walking around the cemetery and it was misty. And it’s kind of chilly and rainy there, especially certain times of the year. And I looked around and I thought, this is something out of a Hammer film. So it never really quite left me,” she revealed. “But the other reason to set it there is because, I think when people think about Mexico, sometimes they do know that it was conquered by the Spanish. And they think the Spanish left and that was it. That was the only case of colonialism that existed. But obviously, many other forces came into Mexico throughout the years and engaged in explicit warfare or more subtle types of control… Americans came and all sorts of foreign interventions have taken place throughout the history of Mexico. And I just thought it was an interesting bit of the colonial legacy, to look at the British legacy, and to set it in Mexico to examine some of those forces colliding.”

Readers of the hit book have been quick to comment on its new status as an upcoming television series. “I will say my favorite was the atmosphere and gothic suspense. I enjoy horror, but I’m quite picky with my horror and that aspect of this book was the least appealing part to me. It was tame for most of the book, but there are some really twisted scenarios towards the end that were really unsettling… and not in the spine-tingling way I generally enjoy. Prepare to be disturbed.⁣ And maybe even a little grossed out.,” one user wrote about the book in a post to Instagram.

“I love how the writer uses most of the key elements of the gothic genre, but at the same time subverts it in order to discuss racism, feminism, and colonialism,” another commented.

Fans who loved the characters and plot of Mexican Gothic will likely fall in love with Hulu’s new take and we, for one, can’t wait!

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AOC’s Quote About Being The Only Daughter In A Latino Household Is Getting Latinas Fired Up

Fierce

AOC’s Quote About Being The Only Daughter In A Latino Household Is Getting Latinas Fired Up

Brittany Greeson / Getty

As young Latinos, there’s no denying the fact that learning to fold our family culture into the customs we acquire as Americans can shape our abilities to handle pressure. In the process of assimilation, we learn how to meet the demands of our parents and our peers all the while juggling the everyday expectations we shoulder while in school.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows all about managing these expectations. Last year, while addressing the media’s desire to see her pursue her career and fulfill societal expectations of her personal life (AKA get married) the politician reminded her followers that she can handle pressure because she grew up in a Latino household.

To boot, she was the only daughter in her home.

But what about the rest of us?

Those of us who maybe aren’t quite yet thriving politicians but manage to succeed in our everyday lives and do it all? We asked Latinas on FIERCE about how they’re able to relate to AOC’s comments and the responses were not only enlightening but a good reminder of Latina strength.

“And the oldest for that matter!! You not only learn to be tough, but also to be resourceful and amazingly great at delegating.” – emramirez1

“So true ughh the oldest child the only female and the first American born and the first to go to college oyeeeee the PRESSURE #mujerfuerte AINT NO ONE CAN TAKE ME DOWN lol por que our familia made us strong!” –paulinacastrellon

“Or the OLDEST daughter.” –m0zz_

“And be a food server for many years…” –kimoti_87

“Only daughter and only child! Thats some other level of #latinohousehold.” –wellnessparalamama

“Or a daughter in a Latino household with a strict father period!” –elliev03

“Look i went through allot and none of it made me stronger im a very shaky person theres a difference between trauma and tough love , i think she had tough love trauama fucks u up.” –__head___in___the____clouds__

“Oldest daughter, of 3 girls! You are the example!” – _cynnrenee

“I only wish the means to becoming tough and handle pressure for a Latina daughter didn’t root in traumatic machismo (male chauvinism) and systematic inequalities experiences. Surely there are ways to learn to have an affirmative tone and handle pressure without the trauma.” – marimukkii

“Or just being in a Latina household, period.” –mar_knut

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