By far the most advanced fighter ever created, the extraordinarily fast and maneuverable Lockheed “Lighting II,” F-35, is an extremely costly* stealth weapons platform , the likes of which has never before graced the skies. Not even the one other 5th Generation stealth fighter, the two-engined F-22 “Raptor,” is its match.
Just think. It doesn’t seem all that long ago when women were banned from even being a pilot of USAF transport aircraft. When your webmaster was a jet pilot in the USAF, his wife wanted to be one, too, since she was already a commercial pilot . . . but, alas, that “glass ceiling” was thick as could be. A solid barrier to any chance. And that’s why he decided to leave the job he loved so much. It made her too green with envy. That was not healthy for the young couple’s marriage. Had they been born just 22 year later, it would have been an entirely new experience, because the Air Force would have welcomed her with open arms. As you most likely know, that’s when women were first accepted into pilot training. The date was September 2, 1977, at the same field from which your webmaster also graduated, 22 years earlier: Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, or as it was more affectionately known, “Willie Air Patch. [See Photo @ end of post].
There are three variants of the F-35, all of which are are made by Lockheed Martin. The Air Force’s conventional take off version, the F-35A model; the Marine’s vertical take off and landing machine, the F-35B; and, initially the most costly of the three, the Navy’s F-35C. Now the USMC version is the most expensive model. You will often hear the dazzling new stealth fighter called a “Joint Strike Fighter,” which means that it will also be sold to the allies of the United States.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. The F-35A will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force; the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy; the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least ten other friendly countries.
* Costs to the three services (estimated cost for each in 2022:
- F-35A: $ 77.9 million;
- F-35B: $101.3 ” ;
- F-35C $ 94.4
So much has changed since then. At first the female aviators were restricted to only non-combat flying, but in time that changed, when some of them were allowed into the “men only” domain of the heretofore macho fighter pilot. The Navy allowed women to become pilots even before the Air Force. The first female Navy aviator graduated in 1975.
Without further ado, let’s look at today skies and come away impressed with not just the extraordinarily versatile new F-35, but at some of the highly skilled women who fly them. First, below, we see USAF Captain Melanie Ziebart.
Major Madison Burgess, below.
Below, Captain Anneliese Satz.
Below, Capt. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team pilot, and commander of the Team, on a practice flight at Hill AFB, Utah. earlier this year. Unfortunately, this video is narrated by a computer “voice,” so please be tolerant about the misplaced emphasis’s and mispronunciations.
Below, the first Female Marine F-35B Fighter Pilot. Local Boise Idaho TV station interviews in her in her home town. USMC Captain Anneliese Satz.
These are now but a few of the latest females fortunate enough to by flying the word’s most versatile new jet Fighter. A number of other women are flying them, and flew the Lightning II before the above aviators did.
Here, below, taken at Williams Air Force Base (WAFB) on September 2, 1977, are the Air Force’s very first ten graduating new pilots.
The first 10 female officers to graduate from the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Program, Class 77-08, September 2, 1977. (U.S. Air Force) – Just imagine, these young women proudly stand in front of their training ship, the Northrup T-28 “Talon”, but this was taken 43 years ago, meaning that they are no longer “young.” Most are, in fact, if still alive, now in their mid sixties! Even their predecessors, the WWII WASP pilots did not fly in combat nor were they officially part of the Army Air Force, either. If any of our viewers, or members, know the names of any of these earliest Air Force female pilots, please let us know by making your comments right on this page, right below, where it says, “LEAVE A REPLY.” Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what happened to them and if they made the USAF a career? Thanks!