Air Force graduates first enlisted female pilot

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – The first enlisted female pilot has graduated from the Air Force.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force Illustration/Tech. Sgt. Ave I. Young

The Air Force Times reported that Tech. Sgt. Courtney* of Vacaville, California, graduated from Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training after completing her courses on August 4.

In December 2015, the Air Force said that it would allow enlisted airmen train as RPA pilots. Tech. Sgt. Courtney was a part of that first group of candidates, also known as the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class (EPIC).

Twelve EPIC students were selected to attend training in October 2016. The first three graduated on May 5.

“Tech. Sgt. Courtney doesn’t do this because she’s a girl, she just gets up every day and puts her uniform on and comes to work and kicks butt because that’s what she does,” said Maj. Natalie, an instructor pilot with the 558th Flying Training Squadron. “That’s who she is. She’s not a woman pilot, she’s a pilot.”

Tech. Sgt. Courtney said that while she’s honored to be the first, she’s more focused on being a good pilot because their units “don’t care if you’re male or female.”

According to the Air Force, RPA pilots train for six months in the left seat of an RPA control center during flight while sense operators spend six weeks in the right seat controlling cameras mounted on the RPA.

An airman for 11 years, she has been part of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance field and has served as a sensor operator for the MQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Congratulations, Tech. Sgt. Courtney!


*Editor’s note: In order to protect the identities of pilots, the Air Force does not release their last names.



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