Chencho Dema | Punakha

Kezang Gyeltshen, a 34-year-old native of Lhuentse, lives in the United States. She is the first Bhutanese to work with American Airlines as a first officer.

In aviation, the first officer is also called a co-pilot—a pilot in addition to the captain, who is the legal commander. 

She is yet to get her Airbus 320 type rating. 

Kezang said that she had all the requirements to join the airlines and started with a regional airline as a first officer and then became a cap-tain where she flew to most states in America, the Bahamas, Canada, Cuba, and Mexico. 

“I flew a Brazilian-made aircraft which is called the Embraer 175, which is completely different from what I’ll be flying now. Every time you fly a different aircraft, you’ll have to go through a whole different training called the Type rating,” she said. 

In 2015, her dreams took her to Miami, Florida, where she earned all her pilot certificates and became a flight instructor. “I taught there for two years and trained more than 30 student pilots and received a Gold Seal Flight Instructors Certificate from the Federal Aviation Ad-ministration.” 

She made her way up to the Legacy Carrier and now she is here as a part of the 15,500 pilots of American Airlines. 

She was a flight attendant with the Drukair where she discovered her passion for flying. Prior to that, she worked as an administration of-ficer for the Royal Institute of Management for 11 months. 

“I have the most supportive family and everyone has been with me through it all. They’ve been my biggest strength,” Kezang added. “I want to work towards encouraging and empowering people, especially girls to dream big and pursue their passion.”