Chen Yueh-fang (陳月芳) has gone a long way— from a female recruit who did not even know how to drive, to becoming the pilot of a C-130 Hercules, and the first female squadron leader in the Republic of China Air Force.
Chen is the leader of the air force’s 101st Airlift Squadron’s 439th Wing.
After graduating from Tainan’s Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology in 1992, Chen applied to join the Air Force Academy and made it into the second class opened for female pilots.
Chen said she was planning to go into the administrative branch of the air force, but changed her mind after a medical officer told her that her physical tests qualified her for pilot training.
Getting into a plane and trying to get used to the g-force during training was daunting, Chen said, adding that learning about mechanics and flight techniques was mentally and physically stressful.
“There were 14 of us who were in the second class; only six made it to the end,” Chen said.
The training officers did not make any concessions because of their gender, because when it comes to flight safety, there are only two results: “You either make it or not,” Chen said.
The training officers told us straight from the start that there would be no preferential treatment, either in studies or physical training, Chen said.
“Whatever the boys did, we did the same,” she said.
Over the 10 years that she earned her wings — incidentally also becoming the first female pilot in the 439th Wing — Chen also completed her training on the C-130 — as a reserve first officer, transport pilot, personnel transport pilot and flight instructor.
As a squadron leader, she is the second-most senior flight test officer.
Chen said she has had many memorable incidents in service, but none can compare with the experience of delivering humanitarian aid to Indonesia during the South Asia tsunami disaster in 2004.
An undersea earthquake of magnitude 9.3 struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, causing severe damage in 14 countries and killing 230,000. Indonesia, the epicenter of the quake, was the hardest hit, with Sri Lanka, India and Thailand close behind.
The air force dispatched six aircraft to deliver humanitarian aid, Chen said.
“Just flying to Indonesia took nine hours,” she said, but seeing the joy on the faces of the people who received the aid was worth all the hardships.
Despite having the job of her dreams, Chen said there was the inevitable tradeoff between career and her family life.
Being on duty and stationed at an airbase far from her family deprives her of time with her children.
Chen’s husband, Yu Tai-sheng (俞台生), is also an air force lieutenant colonel, and both had served as C-130 flight leaders at the same base before Yu was transferred to his current station as a staff member at Air Force Command Headquarters.
Chen said that most of the time, Yu had to act as both father and mother.
“We keep in contact mainly through telephone calls,” Chen said.
However, her daughter — currently in fourth grade — is very understanding, she said.
Her daughter once gave her a card for Mother’s Day in which she wrote of how hard her mother worked and that despite her long absences, she wanted to thank her mom for bringing her into this world, Chen said.
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan
‘A RICH STORY’: People need to visit Taichung to experience real gourmet food, the transportation minister said, as 21 restaurants there made it to the Bib Gourmand list Seventy-five restaurants and street vendors in Taipei and Taichung made the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list this year, including 47 that were listed last year, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday. Insepctors from the Michelin Guide started rating restaurants and street vendor food in the nation’s capital in 2018. For the third edition this year, inspectors would evaluate the gourmet scenes in Taipei and, for the first time, Taichung. Before revealing the list of Michelin-starred restaurants, the guide first discloses its Bib Gourmand list, which contains restaurateurs and food vendors that serve high-quality three-course meals at a total cost of NT$1,000
POLICY PROPOSAL: Shorter quarantines with stricter test requirements would help keep the number of undetected asymptomatic cases low, preventing flare-ups of COVID-19 National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) yesterday said a classification for foreign countries based on COVID-19 infection risk should be introduced, and the mandatory 14-day quarantine shortened to five days with two mandatory tests for travelers from high-risk countries. New imported cases and foreign nationals testing positive after returning home from Taiwan has sparked public debate on whether the government should expand COVID-19 testing to all inbound travelers to better detect asymptomatic cases locally, he said. Taiwan has so far done a good job detecting most COVID-19 cases at its border, due to strict border