Monitoring weather conditions to create a reliable forecast is part of her life. Warnings about thunderstorms, cloudy skies, and any other weather conditions are the day-to-day work of Peruvian Air Force Captain Cynthia Hidalgo Cárdenas, head of the Aeronautical Meteorology Directorate Forecasting Department. Together with her team, Capt. Hidalgo analyzes and evaluates meteorological phenomena and informs the Peruvian Armed Forces to support military operation effectiveness in the country.
Capt. Hidalgo, a mathematics, physics, and astronomy enthusiast, spoke with Diálogo about her passion for meteorology, her military career, and the advancement of women in the military.
Diálogo: What does it mean to be the first woman meteorologist in your country’s Air Force?
Peruvian Air Force Captain Cynthia Hidalgo Cárdenas, head of the Aeronautical Meteorology Directorate Forecasting Department: The challenges of meteorology are currently great; the development and application of computational capabilities, which include software management involving different operating systems, large amounts of data viewing, programming languages, interpretation and processing of satellite images, management of numerical weather models, among others, makes it so that we need ongoing training. As such, it’s a great responsibility for me to be able to lead a group of junior officers and technicians in the Aeronautical Meteorology specialty, since I have to be constantly prepared in subjects related to the study of atmospheric science in order to lead and guide them in all the meteorological advice that we provide to our air crews.
Diálogo: How did your wish to become a meteorologist come about?
Capt. Hidalgo: Ever since my high school years, I’ve been interested in environmental science and physics courses; understanding what is happening in the atmosphere to cause the different meteorological phenomena that occur was what most caught my attention when I was a child. I decided around the age of 17 to apply for military life, bearing in mind that my only objective was to opt for a career in aeronautical meteorology, because it was what I was personally most passionate about, given the constant change in weather and climate conditions in our country.
Diálogo: How importance is the Forecasting Department for the execution of the Air Force’s missions?
Capt. Hidalgo: In order to fulfill the mission of the Peruvian Air Force, we, as the Aeronautical Meteorology Directorate, have to develop, maintain, and carry out meteorological activities in a reliable and timely manner to contribute to the execution of the Peruvian Air Force’s operations.
Diálogo: Do you support the other branches of the military forces?
Capt. Hidalgo: Yes, in the event they require it, for naval aviation, for Army aviation, and for Police aviation. We provide meteorological advice around the clock.
Diálogo: What is your biggest challenge in this command?
Capt. Hidalgo: The biggest challenge is to be able to lead a good group of technicians in the meteorology specialty, who also have a long track record. In my short 10 years as an officer, although it is true that I’ve been trained, I value experience as one of the greatest attributes of a person; therefore, my greatest challenge is to be able to lead them, to be able to train myself, and to be as assertive with a meteorological forecast.
Diálogo: What strikes you most about your military profession?
Capt. Hidalgo: Being able to serve my country in military operations and actions as a specialist in aeronautical meteorology is what satisfies me most professionally. Contributing to the planning and execution of military operations by providing timely and adequate meteorological information so that air crews can reach different parts of our country and thus support socioeconomic development is what fills me most with personal satisfaction.
Diálogo: During your 10 years of military life, how have you seen the advancement of women in the Peruvian Air Force?
Capt. Hidalgo: Knowledge is everything. There is no distinction whatsoever in the institution in order to be able to go for an important position. At the present time in the institution, the one who has control or leadership is the most qualified personnel; the more professional skills you have, the better chance you have of being able to go for the best positions.
Diálogo: What has been your greatest challenge as a woman in the Peruvian Air Force?
Capt. Hidalgo: One of the challenges I had in 2018 was when the Air Force referred me to the National Satellite Imagery Operations Center known as CNOIS. I had to go to that unit for a project to develop cloud coverage forecast for our satellite, PeruSat-1. For me it was a challenge because I had no knowledge of satellite image processing, I had not been trained, but my skills as an aeronautical meteorologist and researcher, helped me and made it that in about two years, along with a pool of engineers, we could concretize the development and forecast of cloud cover for the PeruSat-1 satellite.
To see the full interview with Peruvian Air Force Captain Cynthia Hidalgo Cárdenas, head of the Aeronautical Meteorology Directorate Forecasting Department, please click on the following link: https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/a-conversation-with-capt-cynthia-hidalgo-of-the-peruvian-air-force/#.YrHNUy-B1zU