The most well-known of the ten female captains who fly the AirAsia fleet in Tʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ is Captain Chananporn Rosja. She is also the fairest because she is the reigning Miss Tʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ/Universe 2005. Her tale is well known throughout the area, not just in Tʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ, because of the numerous articles that have been written about her.

Quite a chunk of the Chananporn excitement has ᴅɪᴇᴅ down, and most people probably wouldn’t recognize the beauty queen pilot in her uniform. But even without cosmetics, she cuts a striking figure as she moves through the arrivals hall at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport wearing her uniform of a wʜɪᴛe shirt, black pants, a black necktie, and patent leather brogues. The timid pilot still blushes when she is praised for her attractiveness.

“I’m just a regular Thai girl, honestly. I’ll be completely honest with you—I have no idea how to apply makeup, and I actually prefer jeans and t-shirts to dresses and skirts. I enjoyed playing sports in school and participated in wakeboarding, basketball, and volleyball. The pleasant pilot, who comes across more as the girl next door than a gorgeous beauty queen, says, “If I had to choose between dresses and jeans, I’d choose jeans.”

The crown of the beauty queen wasn’t, however, Chananporn’s top goal at age 35. She was always fixated on the pilot’s headgear.

“I was born an aviator. In the 1970s, my mother worked as a hostess for Thai Airways. Chananporn, who is Chananporn’s guardian, attended secondary school in New York since her aunt worked at the Royal Thai Consulate General there. “I got to meet many pilots from a young age and had countless opportunities to sit in the cockpit,” she recalls.

Along with English and Thai, Chananporn, who still has a New York accent, also speaks Italian and German. In 2000, she went back to Tʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ to finish her electrical engineering degree at Thammasat University in Bangkok.

In 2004, Chananporn found herself in a predicament following her graduation. She was considering either pursuing her Master’s in electrical engineering or enrolling in a pilot training program. However, the recent graduate was broke and need financial aid to continue her education. Chananporn submitted an application for the Thai AirAsia and Bangkok Aviation Center (BAC) trainee pilot program in October 2004.

A few months later, she also signed up for the Ms. Tʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ/Universe 2005 beauty contest, attracted by its $1 million prize package that included a car and sponsorship opportunities. As luck would have it, out of 3,000 candidates, Chananporn was one of the 40 chosen for the trainee pilot program.

“Both of the offers were a double blessing. Chananporn says, “Thanks to Thai AirAsia and BAC, I was able to take time off from my pilot training to compete in the beauty contest.

She didn’t know what it would take to prevail in a beauty pageant. But she always strives to give everything she does her best effort, so she gave the competition her all.

She still finds vanity uncomfortable to wear, so for the interview, she wore the absolute minimum of makeup—just a dab of powder.

Chananporn sought and received direction from The Star photographer throughout the photo shoot, despite the fact that she has previously performed on the biggest pageant stages.

The 171cm-tall Bangkok-born Chananporn recalls that after winning the prized title, things “got even weirder.” Her journey then diverges from the well-traveled route of the beauty queen to fame and fortune. After her tenure as Miss Tʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ, Chananporn turned down offers to enter the entertainment sector or start a modeling career.

She decided to go back to the cockpit instead. “Since I was a young child, I always wanted to be a pilot. The captain of AirAsia for 11 years and 8000 flight hours says, “Even though the beauty title came with many benefits and chances, I had my heart set on soaring high in the skies.

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Video resource: Bích Ngân Trần