Women’s History Month takes flight

  • Published
  • By Charles J. Haymond
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Members of Team Offutt conducted a training flight composed of mostly women March 18, 2020, in honor of Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month honors women’s contributions to history, culture and the world. This observance was annually instituted in 1987.   

“Women’s History Month is important to me because it highlights some of the forgotten heroes who have helped keep our country going, like my grandmother,” said Capt. Kathleen S. West, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron scheduling shop flight commander. “What she did and the larger group of ‘Rosies’ did, was undervalued.”

Women were allowed to enter pilot training in 1976, navigator training in 1977 and fighter pilot training in 1993. As of January 2020, there were 806 pilots, 347 navigators and 20.9 percent of the Air Force is comprised of women.

“Women were only allowed to fulfill combat aviation roles in 1993. Even now, we are still unable to fill an entire flight roster with just women,” West said. “A lot of this is due to deployment schedules and availability but we still have one position in my squadron, at least, that currently has only men performing it.”

With such a low number of women in aviation roles, having a majority female crew is uncommon.

“My entire career, I have flown as the only female crew member many, many times,” Staff Sgt. Kyle Beers, 338th Combat Training Squadron linguist instructor. “Not that it is a problem, but it just does not happen, so having the chance for a majority female crew is really special because it has never been done before according to my knowledge.”

The hope for mission such as these is to set an example for young women aspiring to become aviators.

“I hope I do inspire somebody someday,” West said. “If I can make one person think differently about the capacities of my gender in military aviation, I suppose I can go home feeling accomplished.”