In 1995, Michael López-Alegría became the first Spanish-American to fly into outer space. López-Alegría, who had been born in Madrid in 1958, grew up in Mission Viejo, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, earning a B.S. in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980 and an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the... Continue Reading →

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Rafael Celestino Benítez (1917-1999), who was born in the Puerto Rican municipality of Juncos, became a highly decorated submarine commander during his longtime military career. After retiring from the Navy in 1959, he served as Pan America World Airways’ vice president for Latin America. For more information about Rafael Celestino Benítez,... Continue Reading →

Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General José M. Portela, who was born in San Juan in 1949, has established several noteworthy aviation records. He was the first native of Puerto Rico to become a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.  In 1972, he became the youngest person to serve as commander of a... Continue Reading →

Steamship captain Manuel A. Gonzalez (1832-1902) immigrated to the United States from his native Spain in 1846. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1859. During the Civil War, he put his maritime skills to effective use by using a boat on a regular basis to transport needed supplies to the Union Army troops stationed... Continue Reading →

Aviation pioneer Elwood Richard Quesada was born in Washington, D.C., in 1904 to a Spanish father and Irish-American mother. Quesada’s longtime aviation career began in 1924 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. The subsequent highlights of his career included being promoted to lieutenant general in the U.S. Air... Continue Reading →

In 1991, Lieutenant Commander Marilyn Melendez Dykman became the first Hispanic-American female aviator in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Her achievement helped pave the way for similar opportunities for female cadets of all races and ethnicities at the USCG. For information about Marilyn Melendez Dykman and other Hispanic-American pioneers in the USCG, please check out... Continue Reading →

César Pelli, who was born in Argentina in 1926, has achieved international renown as one of the most innovative and influential architects around today. While Pelli is perhaps best known for designing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, his considerable body of work has also included major transportation-oriented projects. A key example involves the terminal... Continue Reading →

Aviation trailblazer Aida de Acosta (1881-1962) was born in Long Beach, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Ricardo de Acosta, a steamship company executive of Cuban descent. In June 1903 Acosta became the first woman to fly a motorized aircraft on her own. While she was visiting Paris, renowned Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont taught... Continue Reading →

Aviation pioneer Olga E. Custodio was born in San Juan in 1953. She was admitted into the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Officer Candidate School and then accepted as a candidate for training as a USAF pilot. Custodio subsequently entered the Flight Screening Pilot Officer Training School in 1980. After completion of this flight screening, Custodio... Continue Reading →

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