Equality for women pilots

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Martha McSally, first female fighter pilot to fly in combat.

During the 1970s, the doors opened for women to serve as equals in the role of military pilot. That change came in part because of the end of the draft. Servicewomen’s roles expanded under the establishment of the All Volunteer Force. In June 1974, an Army woman, 2nd Lt. Sally D. Woolfolk, became the first female military helicopter pilot. She flew UH-1 Huey helicopters.

More change wouldn’t come until 1993 — nearly 20 years later. That’s when U.S. Defense Secretary Les Aspin announced that the prohibition on women flying in combat missions would be dropped. In 1995, Martha McSally made history by becoming the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. McSally, who is now a U.S. Congresswoman, flew combat patrols over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch. She went on to log more than 300 combat flying hours.

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Martha McSally, U.S. Congresswoman and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel

“Combat skills are blind to rank, gender, race, color, or creed,” retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula said in article for The Washington Times. “They are based on performance, pure and simple.”

This is the conclusion of a three-part series to celebrate women pilots. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

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