Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Female pilots rock the runway at Airfest

From WREX 13: Female pilots rock the runway at Airfest

Move over boys, because this one's for the girls. This weekend at the Rockford Airfest, female pilots rocked the runway.

High-octane action, incredible demonstrations, and performing stunts that people only dream about.

That's Major Caroline Jensen's reality, flying right wing for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.

"When I was 13-years-old, my dad took me to an air show in Eau Claire [Wisconsin], and I got to see the Thunderbirds fly." -says Caroline.

Ever since that day, Jensen knew she would one day be a part of "America's Ambassadors in Blue."

For Captain Gloria Hatcher, operating some seriously heavy equipment is her niche. She pilots U-P-S cargo planes here in Rockford, and K-C 135 refueling tankers.

Hatcher says that despite being outnumbered in the industry as a female, it's hard work and dedication that outweighs gender issues.

"Any female can do this job, and it just takes a little perseverance, and that's whether you're a male or a female." -Hatcher says.

According to Major Jensen, women make up about seven percent of USAF fighter pilots, but it's a number that will continue to grow as long as girls keep the attitude of 'skies the limit.'

"Just realize that there are no limits, for anybody, in whatever they wanna do; being in the military, flying airplanes, or, any other career that they decide." -says Jensen.

Girls interested in taking their careers to "new heights" are encouraged to join programs that advocate women in this industry.

"Now I'm involved with programs like 'Women in Aviation,' so I go out and talk to women who are interested in aviation or think they might be interested, and, encourage them to pursue their career and their love for aviation." says Hatcher.

Whether it's twisting and soaring with the Thunderbirds or operating a Boeing 707, there are plenty of careers in military aviation for women to explore.

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