A Vincentian woman will create history this Saturday when she becomes the first Vincentian pilot to fly an American Airlines aircraft from Miami to St Vincent.
Rochelle Roache-Lanza will be behind the controls of American Airlines 1427 when it lands at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) tomorrow, December 9.
On touch down, in Roache-Lanza’s honour, the flight will be greeted by a water salute, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on Thursday, at a press briefing at Cabinet room.
He said later, Roache-Lanza and her mother will be presented with bouquets by a pupil of the Argyle Primary School.
The Bequia-born 43-year-old was one of the first persons to attend the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College after completing 11 CSEC subjects at St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown.
She first worked as an air traffic controller at the ET Joshua Airport, after which she worked as an air traffic controller at the airports on Union Island and Canouan.
Roache-Lanza migrated to Canada in 2001 to pursue training as a pilot. After stints with LIAT and Caribbean Star, Roache-Lanza flew for one of Nigeria’s largest commercial airlines where she was promoted to captain in 2013.
She then moved to Texas, USA where she taught at an aviation school.
In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT in 2013, Roache-Lanza’s mother Marilyn expressed pride in her daughter.
“The extra hard work that I have put in to get her to where she is, it’s paying off.”
Marilyn admitted that at first, she was very resistant at Roache-Lanza’s idea of a career, particularly because she thought that it was a man’s job.
“The bird is for the air, not you,” is what the proud mother said she had told her daughter.
Describing her daughter as independent and straightforward, Marilyn stated that it was not long before her third child convinced her to let her pursue piloting.
She said “Mommy, you’re not the one pushing me. I’m the one who wants to do it and if I get disappointed, I’ll blame myself,” Marilyn said.
“Just by saying those few words, she changed my mind.”
Marilyn said she feels that it is extremely important that parents allow their children to set goals and fulfill them.
“If there is a child and they have that ability to do whatever they want to do, don’t stop them. Once you have a means of helping, they know what they want. They are the ones going to it, not you the parents,” the mother said.