Home Medical Factors Facing Pilots Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Aviation News Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics General Aviation Helicopters
Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Links To Other Sites Editorials Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Upcoming Events Editorials


Lieutenant Colonel Olga E. Custodio
By Tony “The Marine” Santiago

Lieutenant Colonel Olga E. Custodio (born 1954) was an officer in the United States Air Force who made history when she became the first female Hispanic U.S. military pilot. She holds the distinction of being first Latina to complete U.S. Air Force military pilot training. After retiring from the military she became the first Latina to become a commercial airline captain.

Early years - Custodio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her father was a Sergeant in the United States Army and was often stationed in various countries where the United States has its military installations. Custodio and the rest of the family would accompany him in his overseas assignments. Custodio began her primary education in Taiwan. She also attended schools in New Jersey, Iran and Paraguay.

The family returned to Puerto Rico where they settled down when she was 15 years old. She graduated high school when she was 16 and applied to continue her education at the University of Puerto Rico where she was accepted. Both her father and all the traveling that she did at a young age served as inspirational factors when it came to deciding what she would like to do in the future. While in college she attempted to join the university’s ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program, however she was told that only men were allowed.

Military career - Custodio earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puerto Rico and worked for various industries before landing a job in the accounting department of Prinair (Puerto Rico International Airlines). There she met Edwin Custodio with whom she would eventually have two children. She later worked for the US Department of Defense (DoD) in Panama.

With the support of her husband, she presented herself before the Military Center Headquarters and applied for admission to United States Air Force Officers Candidate School. Custodio was accepted and decided upon being a Pilot as her career choice.

She graduated from Officer Training School in January 1980, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. She qualified for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas and graduated the following year, thus becoming the first Latina to complete the U.S. Air Force military pilot training. Her first assignment in the military was that of instructor pilot at Laughlin AFB. She was the first female to become a Northrop T-38 Talon (T-38) UPT flight instructor at that base. The T-38 Talon is the Air Force’s two-seat, supersonic jet trainer.



Her job was to teach other potential military pilots how to fly the aircraft. In one occasion a bird struck the engine of her plane in bad weather while she was in flight. She was able to overcome the emergency and safely land her plane. Because of this she was recognized by the Air Force and was awarded the HQ AETC Aviation Safety Award for superior airmanship. She was later assigned to Randolph Air Force Base where she was also the first female T-38 Instructor Pilot. During her career she also served as Pilot Instructor Training; T-41 Flight Screening - Operations Officer and Check Pilot.

Custodio retired from active duty with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in October 2003, after serving in the military for 23 years and 10 months. Her last assignment as an Air Force Reserve Officer, was that of accountability and readiness at USAF Headquarters Personnel.

Commercial Airline Captain - In June 1988, while she was serving in the US Air Force Reserves, she was hired by American Airlines as a commercial pilot. Custodio became the first Latina to become a commercial airline captain. During her years with American, she flew various types of aircrafts. She piloted the Boeing 727, Fokker 100, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 to various countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. She also flew to Mexico, Canada and to various cities in the United States. Custodio retired in February 2008, from American with over 11,000 flight hours.


Later years - Custodio lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband. There she founded "Dragonfly Productions LLC", a production company that creates personal documentaries.  In 1992, she founded the Ballet Folklorico Borikèn, the Puerto Rican folk ballet.

Custodio is also the Vice President of the Hispanic Association of Aviation and Aerospace Professionals (HAAAP). The organizations goal is TO inspire the young Latinos in the San Antonio area to seek civilian and military aviation careers by taking them to the airports to see the airplanes and control towers.

Memberships - Among the many associations in which Custodio is a member are the following:

*Charter member of the Women Military Aviators Association
*The Women in Aviation, International, Inc.
*The Allied Pilots Association.

Education and professional certificates - Besides the Bachelor of Arts degree which she earned in the University of Puerto Rico, Custodio has also earned the following:

*Air Transport Pilot certificate with single and multiengine land and instrument ratings.
*Flight Engineer Certificate – Turbojet Powered ratin
*Radiotelephone Operator permit
*FAA Medical Certificate 

Recognitions - Custodio was recognized twice by  the Senate of Puerto Rico. In 2001, she was recognized by Elizabeth Arden/Revista Imagen of Puerto Rico as one of the recipient of “La Belleza Inteligente 2001″ awar

Other News Stories
(For the latest news please checkout our home page)

blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                                                            Bookmark and Share

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine