At Avgeekery, we love meeting people who hold unique roles in aviation. We’ve interviewed aviation photographers, pilots, authors, and even people who are restoring unique aircraft like an American Airlines 727.
We recently had the honor of talking with Rebeca Palacios Cruz. She is a 31 year old who was a former soldier in the Mexican Air Force. Originally from Veracruz, Mexico, she served as both a Flight Attendant and Air Security Personnel in the Air Force. She recently left the Air Force to continue her aviation career as a pilot.
Tell us how you fell in love with aviation for the first time?
Studying aviation was my dream, but my most honest answer is because I love the feeling of being literally in the air. I like to be in control of the situation and feel capable of doing it correctly. That is how I overcome my fear of flight. I like the quote:
“Aviation saved my life, now I know who I am and what my purpose is in this world.”
What made you decide to join the Mexican Air Force?
I have many reason why a chose a life in the military. I come from a family with a military tradition. My most important reason though is because I felt the duty to defend the society of my country through the Mexican Air Force. The most gratifying and honorable thing is being able to serve and help through my greatest passion, which is aviation.
After you joined the Mexican military, you became a Flight Attendant. We assume that it is a rather unique career within the Air Force. How were you selected for the task?
I have been a licensed Flight attendant for eleven years, my career began in commercial aviation. I originally flew for ”Magnicharters”, “Interjet” and “Fly Across”, Mexican airlines.
The flight attendant career does not officially exist in the Mexican Air Force, but the function is carried out by airmen. First you are a soldier and then you fulfill the functions of a flight attendant.
The selection is made according to the psychological, cultural, and physical profile as in any armed force. Having the knowledge, license and vocation as a flight attendant is helpful to be selected for the role.
What type of aircraft are you qualified to fly as a flight attendant?
I am qualified in teams: Teams flown in the Mexican Air Force, Mexican Navy, Interjet, Magnicharters and Fly Across.
• Boeing 737-200, 300, 500 and 800.
• Boeing 787.
• Airbus 320.
• Sukhoi Superjet100.
• Embraer 145.
• Learjet 145.
• King Air i350.
• Challenger 605.
• Gulfstream 550.
• Phenom 300.
• Citation Sovereign
• Citation CJ3.
• Legacy 500.
• Casa C295W.
How different is your role from a commercial flight attendant?
Civil aviation is regulated by the Mexican aeronautical authority (AFAC), where compliance with safety procedures is the most important thing for the flight. As a civil flight attendant, you are in charge of passengers’ comfort with a set schedule.
In military aviation, the completing the mission is the most important thing. The operations are subject to the needs of the service, so most of the time they are not subject to a set schedule.
In addition to flying throughout México, do you also fly internationally?
That’s right, both in civil aviation and military aviation.
On commercial flights, you usually fly to all the scheduled destinations. On military flights, you fly wherever necessary. With the current pandemic, you’ll fly to support health personnel, transportation of other nationals and returnees along with a host of other operations.
What is the most challenging part of the role (personal, family and professional)?
The most challenging part personally is to be able to identify and develop the skills required to carry out air operations. You have a desire to do the best you can while also knowing that the easiest day was yesterday.
In the Air Force, it’s knowing that it’s not about you or oneself, but about something greater than yourself: the welfare of a country—both self-denial and loyalty.
Speaking professionally, it is the constant drive to do my duty with as professionally as possible. That goal drives me to always do well with professional excellence.
He has already had a successful career in aviation. Do you have any additional goals you want to achieve?
I’m not finished with aviation yet. The world of aviation is as big as the sky. I’m working on becoming a pilot in the civilian world. Finishing my pilot training and being able to fly for some humanitarian aid organization and getting into the area of aviation safety are what I want to do next.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in military aviation?
I would say don’t hesitate to do it! To be an airman (or air soldier in the Mexican Air Force) you have to take into account that military aviation is an arduous path. It is a system based on discipline, and the values of “honor, courage and loyalty”, made up of by honorable men and women of war.
It is also very rewarding because you will be part of the development and history of a nation. My favorite quote is: “Military aviation is the demonstration of love for the country in aviation.”