January 9, 1996
At the age of 71, aviation pioneer Berta Zerón de García – with more than 10,000 flight hours to her credit – took to the skies as a pilot for the last time. The airplane that she flew for her final trip was a Cessna 206.
Born in the city of Pachuca in eastern Mexico, Zerón first became intrigued with human flight as a teenager sailing back to Mexico from Hawaii with her family. A plane belonging to aviation legend Amelia Earhart was on board the ship, and the aircraft would leave a lasting impression on Zerón even after she embarked on a secretarial career placing her in earthbound jobs at Canada Dry, Erricson, and –ironically – Mexico City’s International Airport (present-day Benito Juárez International Airport).
Zerón finally decided to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot. She completed her first official flight in 1947 with a 45-minute trip between Pachuca and Mexico City.
Zerón made her first solo flight in 1964. She subsequently established several key flight records. These included becoming the first woman in Mexico to obtain a commercial pilot’s license and an unlimited public transport license. Her pioneering role in aviation earned her numerous honors. Zerón, who died nearly five years after her final flight as a pilot, was anything but ambivalent about her airborne pursuits. She asserted, “To me, aviation is the reason why I’m living, it’s my whole life.”
For more information on Berta Zerón de Garcia and other notable aviators of Mexican descent, please check out http://old.sandiegoairandspace.org/exhibits/mexican_american_exhibit/.