IAAFA Hosts First Female Dominican Republic Combat Pilot
By Dialogo February 12, 2013
Taking a break from catching drug dealers, Capt. Maria Tejada-Quintana came to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to attend the Inter-American Squadron Officer School (ISOS) at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA), graduating on December 12, 2012, with 278 fellow IAAFA students.
Tejada-Quintana claims the title of the first female combat pilot for her country, the Dominican Republic. She is well trained for flying interdiction missions aimed at stopping narcotrafficking over the Caribbean Sea, while monitoring the border with Haiti in an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.
Her instructor said that she was at IAAFA for a reason, and highlighted that she was one of the top students in her class. “She is a trailblazer, opening roads for others [aspiring pilots] while overcoming challenges,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Omayra Genao, Professional Military Education instructor and ISOS program director. “It’s been an honor to have her here as a student, to be a part of history and witness it.”
The ISOS curriculum prepares officers for further responsibilities as they move up in rank, and is professional military training required for promotion. Students are taught theoretical aspects of leadership, critical thinking, team building, and mentoring techniques, and are provided opportunities to practice those skills throughout the training.
Tejada-Quintana decided to pursue a career as a pilot and become combat-rated during her third year of college at the Dominican Republic Air Force Academy “Batalla de las Carreras.”
Her brother, Dominican Republic Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Juan Dario Tejada-Quintana, was also studying at the academy. She said it was he who inspired her to be the first female to join the all-male combat pilot corps. She followed in her brother’s footsteps and graduated in 2005, securing a slot in the Dominican Republic’s Air Force Pilot Training School.
Currently the Dominican Republic’s Air Force has six women pilots flying: three in the Transportation Squadron, two in the Search and Rescue Squadron and one in the Combat Squadron. There are a total of 178 pilots in the country’s Air Force.
Tejada-Quintana explained that she had to sacrifice free time to study and prove herself throughout her training. “There are no obstacles that cannot be overcome with strength, will, and a lot of studying. The reason I have made it this far is because I made personal sacrifices and concentrated on my goals,” she said.
“From here, she will go back to her squadron and continue flying the Super Tucano,” Genao said. “But what she learned in this course will help her pursue leadership goals well beyond the airplane. It is about being a team leader, understanding the mission, and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to her fellow airmen, her senior leaders, and her country. In addition, in her unique position as Dominican Republic’s first female fighter pilot, Tejada-Quintana is a role model.”
Maria Tejada, an example to follow in our nation... Congratulations! My grandfather Juan Tejera, General pilot of the FAD, my uncles instructor pilots, my father, mechanic of aviation; I have seen all this since I was a child and I love aviation... I will complete my university studies and I will register in the Academy of Aviation immediately!