Patricia Zosa, PAL Express

Patricia Zosa, PAL Express


My family moved from one place to another quite often while I was growing up because my father worked as a pilot for several airlines. The aviation world is impressive and intriguing at the same time. It’s one of the paths my siblings and I considered, enjoying the things the career had to offer. After graduating from the university, I initially worked as a creative professional under publishing and marketing companies. By that time, my sister had just completed her airline training. I looked into the opportunity and when it came up, the dream took off.

Just like any other dream, becoming a pilot requires dedication, discipline — and a lot of coffee.

There’s no easy path to making this commitment considering the study time, training expenses, flying hours to accumulate. I’m grateful to have met other women in the industry who shared with me the challenges they encountered. They say if one can see their dream through role models in the industry or in her own mind, she’s most likely to become one someday. And what better source of inspiration than your own sister!

Life at Palexpress was fast-paced — every day was not the same.

Although it was a generally routined job, things can change rapidly everyday. We flew most of the time with an average of four to six flights a day, five to six days a week, with up to two days off in between. We were assigned the domestic routes flying out of Clark, Cebu and Davao. So, we were in these three hubs on a rotational basis.

For our short-haul routes that range from 25 minutes to an hour, there’s a lot of tasks and checklists to go through before, during and after the flight. Note that we usually only have a 30-minute turnaround time alloted to disembark passengers, take the cargo out, clean and disinfect the seats, inspect the aircraft, refuel (if needed), go on lavatory breaks, stretch our backs, and then board another set of passengers for the next flight. Every minute counts.

We also have to consider other unpredictable factors that may cause delay, such as weather, air and ground traffic, passengers, and aircraft status. Then multiply this by the number of flights assigned to you on that day! The workload can get pretty overwhelming and intense at first. We eventually learn to adjust with the pace. Apart from learning something new every flight, I have two memories that stood out from Palexpress life: witnessing a proposal as we landed in Siargao island, and flying in OFWs home for Christmas. It’s a privilege to fly and witness someone’s milestone. But no other privilege comes close to flying someone home to their family for the holidays, especially because my father was an OFW himself.

I think I owe myself some good extra hours of sleep and skincare while binge-watching the latest K-drama series featuring everyone’s favorite Captain – Captain Ri! I just kind of come back into myself and stay at home because that’s where I need to be.

But even during this very challenging time for the aviation industry, and the whole world, I still believe in resilience and finding the simple joys in life.

I’ve re-learned how to live the less hurried life and spend more time with the people and things that matter.

I grew up with a practical lifestyle, so I’d like to think this great pause transitioned smoothly on me. It was just another reminder of the ultimate reason why I do what I’ve been doing and who I’m doing it for: family. Unlike many of aviation history’s tragedies, no one saw this pandemic coming. I was on my way home to Cebu from a flight, then the lockdown happened. It was strange timing, really. But I couldn’t be more grateful to be quarantined safely at home.

I spent more time away from the noise through personal reflection, working out and creating anything.

We had our online courses to help us stay current while flights were on hold. I may have skipped banana bread, dalgona and TikTok craze, but art and design has kept me up throughout the quarantine. Doing freelance work has also encouraged me to connect and collaborate with friends’ homemade business logos and branding.

I worked in the creative industry for the longest time, so when I pursued flying, I was still able to find freelance work and bring them with me wherever I went. I suppose it’s just like anybody else who has a full time job but also enjoys keeping themselves productive during their free time. The additional income helps too!

I’m no expert at time management, but I’m constantly learning. I just don’t deal with both of it at the same time. Just super grateful to work with people who believe in me as much as I believe in them. I think that’s where the joy and strength come in. Finding your people, purpose, passion. And to be able to share the skies with my sister and father (although different aircrafts) it’s been quite exciting.

If there’s one thing quarantine taught has me, it’s to value the slow and peaceful state of mind.

And I can’t imagine any better destination to experience this than in the breathtaking island of Batanes. I’d really love to go there again.

In the meantime, we’re all just hanging in here resting our wings, creating while waiting, and hoping for the world to heal.

Note to readers: As this issue went to press, Patricia has left PAL Express. She is currently focusing on her graphic design studio.

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