Latinas In Aviation Second Annual Global Fest Opens with Special Exhibit

Oct. 21, 2022

Fig Factor Media CEO Jacqueline Ruiz and College Park Aviation Museum continued the tradition of celebrating professional Latinas in aviation this year during the second annual  Latinas in Aviation Global Festival.

Maryland Deputy Secretary of State Luis E. Borunda honored Latinas in aviation with a citation on behalf of the State of Maryland and recognized the museum’s dedication to sharing Latinas' stories as it unveiled the first-ever Latinas in Aviation Special Exhibit. The exhibit showcases donated memorabilia from the "Latinas in Aviation" Vol. I authors and the Pilotina logo.

“We are so excited and pleased to see how many people learned how Latinas are making their mark in the aviation industry and how we are encouraging younger Hispanic girls and women to aim high on their dreams as well,” Ruiz said. “Words cannot express my deep gratitude for this festival and this special exhibit thanks to our wonderful partnership with the museum. There is no other exhibit like this in the world or the history of aviation.”

About 400 attendees, including FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims, came to the M-NCPPC Department of Parks and Recreation’s College Park Aviation Museum and Airport to hear from pilots — several who were in attendance —  who grace the pages of the first book called “Latinas in Aviation” and hear from new authors during the launch of “Latinas in Aviation, Vol. II, Maryland Edition.”  The new volume features 14 pilots, administrators, military personnel and aeronautical engineers from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., who discuss their struggles and triumphs in the aviation industry to pave the way for the next generation to take flight.

The 14 authors are:

  • Eliana Rothwell
  • Raquel Villagomez
  • NormaBat-Sheva Orona-Samms
  • Melissa Torres
  • Louisa Ocasio
  • Frances Melina Velazquez Mercado
  • Lucia Mencia
  • Karen Perez
  • Leena Carvalho
  • Keanne Vallejo-Huertas
  • Eryka Cristina Xavier da Silva
  • Elizabeth Garcia Corvington
  • Brenda García 
  • Luz Beattie

This book and the event were a partnership of Fig Factor Media, the College Park Aviation Museum, the MNCPPC Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Field of Firsts Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that raises funds to support the museum and its exhibits and educational programming.

College Park Aviation Museum Director Kevin Cabrera noticed that neither rain nor the threat of volatile weather stopped people from coming to the festival.

“It is hard to express in words but to know that the museum took the initiative to do this Latinas in Aviation Global Festival is very meaningful because I understand what it feels not to be represented,” he said. “I also want to share that this event was never meant to be a one-time occasion. I am about building community and know that this will be a feature program and the exhibit will highlight the Latinas and aviation for a long time.”

Orona-Samms, a structural analyst for Boeing at its Design Center in Philadelphia, encouraged younger Latinas to be their own advocates. 

“A lot of the time, you are the best person who knows exactly where you want to be,” she said. “Despite sometimes having doubts and experiencing impostor syndrome, I would say to always make it known what you want to do and where you want to be. Be the biggest advocate for yourself and people will follow.”