Sara Castanos: the history of the first Dominican air traffic controller

Being 30 years old, married and with 4 children, Sara Castaños visits a beauty salon, where as usual, they lend her a magazine to entertain herself.

In the pages of the brochure, Sara found a coupon for an international civil aviation school, (California Aircraft Institute), she cut out the coupon, took it home, filled it out and mailed it back looking for more information about the training center.

The school began sending her information, which sparked Sara’s interest in the fascinating world of aviation. She decided to tell them of her desire to take the aeronautical course, but was met with the response that although they were willing to train her, they had no classes available in the RD. However, they offered her the option of receiving the study materials and practices through the dock in Puerto Plata.

Sara agreed to receive all the documentation via the port, enrolled in the course, completed the lessons and sent them to the school via the dock; they corrected them and sent them back to her rectified. Those packages took up to 15 days to arrive.

The duration of the training was 6 months, they sent her her graduation certificate and now Sara wanted more.

Sara wanted to go to the physical structure of the aviation industry, because she had only done the theory and derived practices, but she did not know how an airport worked; so she decides to visit the Gregorio Luperon International Airport in Puerto Plata.

When she arrived at the airport, she went to what at that time was the “Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil”, where she learned that there were no women working as air traffic controllers and they had no plans to hire any. This news was frustrating for Mrs. Castaños; she returned home, but decided to go to the airport every day to insist.

A year later they decided to give her the opportunity to familiarize herself in the area, but without paying her, as she had to prove she could do the job first; she did not receive the air traffic control course either, as such training was not available to women.

Sara learned the trade on the job and says that the hardest part was gaining the respect and recognition of her coworkers; but a year after working without pay, in 1985, she was appointed as Aerodrome Controller.

Five years after her entry, a second woman was given the opportunity to become an air traffic controller. Today, according to El Nuevo Diario, there are a significant number of women doing this work.


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Dominican Republic Live Editor

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