Florita Ancona, a nineteen year old local of San Pedro, is the first female commercial pilot to fly in Belize.
Florita is the daughter of Flora and Manuel Ancona. She attended high school at St. Catherine's Academy and then attended St. John's Sixth Form in Belize City. After she graduated sixth form she attended Tyler International School of Aviation in Tyler, Texas, USA. After completing her required six month training course, Florita returned to Belize where she is presently flying as a first officer with Tropic Air.
"I've always wanted to be a pilot. My mom has worked with Tropic Air since it started and my brother is a pilot too," explained Florita. "I use to fly whenever I could and I use to commute to go to school. I got interested in flying when I was very young and I really liked it."
At Tyler International School of Aviation, Florita was one of five females out of a group of 60 that were being trained to be commercial pilots. "It wasn't uncomfortable at all. They don't treat you different if you're a girl," she said. "Even though there were 55 men and only five women, everyone was busy doing their own thing. Everyone was too busy trying to make the hours they needed to notice anyone else."
According to Florita, she has heard of another Belizean woman that was supposedly licensed but never flew in Belize. She made several attempts to find out more about this woman pilot but discovered nothing concrete. "No one seems to know anything about her. Who she is or where she went. She seems to be just a rumor. Being the first female pilot to fly in Belize is a great honor for me. I never thought I'd get any attention because of it. It all just came along with my dream."
Florita said that she had a great deal of support from her family, friends and the other pilots she knows. "I grew up around planes and pilots," she said. "I know all of them and they all know me. They have all been so helpful. If their is a girl out there who wants to be a pilot, don't let anyone discourage you. Go for it."
She also mentioned that she has had some negative comments from people. "I've had certain people tell me, ‘You're flying. Well, I'm not flying with you!' I'm not letting it get to me and I'm still doing my flights. It's up to them if they don't want to fly with me but I'm just as capable as anyone else. I thought about all these things before I decided to do this and no one is going to put me down for doing something I want to do."
Florita must fly 750 hours as a first officer, seated on the right hand of the captain of the plane, before she will be able to fly a 172, plane, solo. Eventually, after accumulating the adequate amount of hours needed, she will be able to fly a Caravan.
Editors Note: Congratulations Florita. Your perseverance will no doubt inspire many woman in Belize to pursue their dreams. Best of luck in the future.
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