MEET: Capt. Monessa Catuncan - the First Filipina F-16 Fighter Pilot of the Elite U.S. Air Force - The Most Popular Lists

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MEET: Capt. Monessa Catuncan - the First Filipina F-16 Fighter Pilot of the Elite U.S. Air Force


"What men do, women also can.”

This notion is common when talking about women empowerment. Well, another Filipina woman has proved this right again.

Top Gun Pilot Capt. Monessa Catuncan of the U.S. Airforce's F-16 / Source via Facebook

Thirty-three-year-old Capt. Monessa Catuncan, a former resident in Pasay City and Olongapo City in the Philippines was recently recognized by the Asian Journal for her phenomenal performance of flying United States’ F-16 Fighter Plane. The said plane was described to be a “state-of-the-art” aircraft by Manila Wire.


Capt. Catuncan was the first Filipina to earn the privilege and honor to fly the said fighter plane commonly called “Viper”. The Viper was not just an ordinary plane as it has been used in many air-combats and has been one of US’ superb planes that fought during wars.

The 61st Fighter Squadron “Top Dogs” will graduate 13 students Saturday from class 07-ABC. They are from left: 1st Lts. Scott Butler, Chris Wells, Mark Hickie, Capt. Mike Anderson, 1st Lts. Charlie Scharmann, Ben Walker, Capt. Monessa Catuncan (front), Ryan Thulin and Beau Provost, 2nd Lt. Jeremy Doohen, 1st Lts. Adam Hafez, Jason Wall and Dustin McCauley.

It has been considered as a high-performance weapon for the US and allied nations for it was able to transcend other known aircraft. Its weapons can even still be precisely used even under bad weather conditions.

The Viper was carrying combat missions in Iraq as a representative from the United States Air Force (USAF). The fact that the plane was too complicated meant that only excellent and equipped pilots are allowed to handle it; Capt. Catuncan, being one.


Before getting where she is now, Capt. Catuncan also dreamed and made her way to success just like anybody else. While still in her second year in at Mesquite High School, Texas, Catuncan was inspired to become an astronaut by the movie – Armageddon. At that very moment, her father, Ramon Catuncan explained to her how much hard work and perseverance she has to exert before realizing her young ambition.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon pulls away from a KC-135 Stratotanker after aerial refueling, October 7, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Hampton Stramler)

Amazingly, young Monessa was not disheartened. Instead, she did well with her studies and graduated Valedictorian in her High School in 2000. Even before she graduated, Monessa already captured the attention of the Coast Guard and was invited to Connecticut and be a helicopter pilot in 1999. She grabbed the opportunity and went to Connecticut.


However, after two weeks, she realized she was not contented with a flying helicopter. Instead, she wanted to fly a real plane.

Captain Monessa Catuncan, the first Filipina USAF female fighter pilot, transported to her F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft with other pilots from the 35th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson)

Taking her next step, Monessa enrolled herself in US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and studied aeronautical engineering. She took the Undergraduate Pilot Training, excelled, and eventually graduated. Determined to reach her ambition, Monessa topped as a student-pilot in her class.

Monessa’s flying career started to bloom then. She was offered to fly either a fighter or a bomber aircraft. Monessa did not just settle there. She went to Moody Air Force, Laughlin Air Force Base and Sheppard Air Force Base where she learned all the theories and developed her skills as a pilot.


Top Gun Pilot Capt. Monessa Catuncan of the U.S. Airforce's F-16 / Source via Facebook

Although learning all the techniques of controlling a fighter plane required a really tough training, Monessa still conquered the stressful situations she had been through.


Reaping her hard work's fruits, Monessa finally got what she wanted – to fly F-16 Falcon, among the numerous aircrafts offered to her. She went to Luke Air Force Base in  Arizona to practice flying the F-16 or Viper, as commonly known, and of course, graduated with flying colors. What makes her more amazing was that she was the only woman in her group and the only Filipino to pass the course.

Top Gun Pilot Capt. Monessa Catuncan of the U.S. Airforce's F-16 / Source via Facebook

As a kickoff of her ‘real’ pilot career in 2014, Monessa was sent to Iraq with the 34th Fighter Squadron as a USAF 2nd Lieutenant. Just this year, she was promoted as a Captain and was assigned in Utah’s Hill Air Force Base.

After all Capt. Catuncan’s hard work and perseverance, she finally earned not only the F-16 Falcon but also the honor of serving her countrymen. She also has brought honor to the Filipino race and flag as a Filipina who made it through a tough way, and an inspiration to every person who has a big dream...


The US Air Force is an elite organization, to handle and piloting an F-16 fighter plane is a prized possession. Monessa, through her perseverance and hard work, has earned not only to fly the F-16 but also the pride and honor of defending the United States and its allies as well as making the Filipinos proud.


Top Gun Pilot Capt. Monessa Catuncan of the U.S. Airforce inside an F-16  / Source via Facebook

As the first Filipina descent to fly the F-16, Capt. Catuncan “also carries the Philippine flag in her heart and the pride of the country it represents and the people in it.”

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44 comments:

  1. We should be celebrating a woman who worked hard to achieve excellence. Being Filipina is incidental! What really made the difference is "Hard work and determination not being a "Filipina"!

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    1. Having been to tje Philippines several tumes and witnessed just gow little most have, it makes her home country and it's citizens, as well as all Filipinos who have come to the US to have a better life, very proud. She achieved what few women have done, in aby country, and what NO filipinas have done. Trust me, she is also proud to be a woman and Texan. The US hasn't always been kind to the Philippines, but most of them love us and dream of coming here.

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    2. Yes,incidental but still a Filipina.

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    3. She's an American first! If her parents didn't immigrate to America, where would they be living? Philippines? She might join the Philippine Air Force?

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  2. She's American. She renounced her Filipino citizenship years ago.

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    1. She has to. You can not be in the USAF without renouncing all other countries.

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    2. She still is a Filipina by birth and blood. Wow. Beauty and brain too.

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    3. Wrong. Maybe as a pilot. You can be a dual citizen not unless you are an officer. Dual citizenship is allowed in the USAF if you are enlisted only.

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    4. She is an officer, ting na mo

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  3. Wow. I was amaze when i found out she stand as the first Filipina to fly the F-16.. You'll be one who inspire filipino's ! We owe you ..

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    1. Sorry, but she's actually not the first Filipina to fly the F-16 airframe. I don't know who actually can claim that title, but I was stationed in Kunsan AB when I met a Filipina pilot deployed to our base from Holloman AFB, NM way back in 2005. She started out flying Vipers and then was retrained to fly F117s before that airframe was decommissioned. But still kudos to Capt Catuncan.. Aim High, Fly-Fight-Win.

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  4. I actually find this whole thing odd. She's an American Citizen, that's her nationality. She's Filipino based on ethnicity and culture. Filipinos aren't even a race of people, they are a mixture of Malay, Caucasian, Arabic, Chinese etc. which happen to inhabit a Nation made up of 7,000+ islands. It would be as if every nation in Africa made claim to every achievement a Black Person made or every nation in Europe made claim to every achievement a Caucasian Person made. The time when the Philippines can claim to have the first female F-16 Pilot is when the Philippines has F-16s and there is a female Filipino pilot at the controls, one who carrier a Filipino Passport and is a Citizen of the Philippines.

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  5. ...who carries a Filipino Passport...

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    1. No she does not, and is a US citizen

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    2. She carries an American military passport!

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  6. she is not a filipina she is an ophirian the race of Ophir son of jhoctan the son of sem the son of noah.

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  7. Her steely determination to succeed is what made her outstanding from the rest.A true bloodied Pinay but an American in spirit.Perfect combination.Mabuhay ka,Monessa!Carry on with love and a prayer to God in your heart.God bless you.

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  8. Does her citizenship, her ethnicity, etc matter to any of you? According to some of you, for those of us who have not had woman in this capacity, it is to be celebrated and to encourage other girls and women of all nationalities and ethnicities to soar higher.

    For those who banter over this tells me, your minds are so into minuscule things as in semantics, etc.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, take off your Rose Colored Glasses, have a spine and admit that she has truly made a difference in the profession and out here doing what she believes to defend our country. She has also made many people of Filipino heritage and back in the Philippines ���� very proud.

    Salamat Po! Thank you!

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    1. I'm proud she is female.
      I'm proud of her background.
      I'm proud she's Filipina.
      I'm proud she is accomplished.

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    2. Thank you, Elle! Well said!!

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  9. Elle...thank you for saying this. I was getting sick to my stomach reading all those comments that completely missed the point.

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  10. Bunch of idiots in this discussion...all we are saying is she got the Pinoy blood flowing in her veins, and is successful in all her endeavors.

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  11. they have her age wrong, she's not 33 this year. 3 or 4 years ago maybe.

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  12. Sorry, but she's actually not the first Filipina to fly the F-16 airframe. I don't know who actually can claim that title, but I was stationed in Kunsan AB, ROK when I met a Filipina pilot deployed to our base from Holloman AFB, NM way back in 2005. She started out flying Vipers and then was retrained to fly F117s before that airframe was decommissioned. But still kudos to Capt Catuncan.. Aim High, Fly-Fight-Win.

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  13. wether shes filipina or not i congratulate her to become a pilot of a f16 airplane

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  14. Proud pilot from Philippines, go kabayan...

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  15. I would not be surprised to see her trained for NASA, just a thought.lol :)

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  16. Regardless of her current nationality, she is a woman that the US Air Force is proud of. Part of my USAir Force Family from 1949 to date.

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  17. Topnotcher she is....All of us Happy and Proud of her....Keep it up! Make the World safer like them good Pilots! Kudos to you..your family..and your beloved PHL-USA!!!!

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  18. Her achievement is the result of her strong determination. Whatever her race is. She can not be a usaf if she is not us citizen. DoeSnt matter if shes fil, latina or african. Any country will be proud of her achievement with flying colors. Shes an officer that can proud of. GOD BLESSs.

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  19. well, let's start the iran war! use that f16.. let's see if she can take the shot.. because it is difficult to fire a shot than to drive that plane! Godbless you mam!

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  20. Congratulations proud Filipino Pilot go God Bless.

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