bound to happen eventually. Ever since the Department of Defense began training
woman as combat pilots three decades ago, and then allowing them to fly combat
missions in 1993, it's only been a matter of time before two pilots, married to
each other, would find themselves flying a mission together. This happened
recently when two F-15 pilots in Alaska, found themselves next in line to fly a
two aircraft scramble mission. It was only a practice mission, but was
otherwise identical to the many such missions that are flown when a Russian
recon aircraft approaches American air space.
Carey and Blaine Jones
(Major and Captain, respectively) have been married for 42 months, and
assigning couples to the same unit is fairly common, if both have job skills
that the unit can use. The Joneses are both F-15 pilots, and carried out the
scramble mission without a hitch on June 6th.
One reason women were
eventually allowed to fly in combat was that many of the pre-1993 female combat
pilots were used in Op-For (opposing forces) exercises, as "enemy" pilots. Some
of these women proved to be formidable, and, as a result, many male pilots
sought to get these hot-shot pilots flying with them, rather than against them.
Before 1993, the majority
of female combat pilots flew for the Russian air force during World War II.
Russia had thousands of women flying warplanes during this period, and several
of them became aces. Most of the women flew combat support aircraft, partly
because many of the warplanes back then did not have power-assisted controls,
and required a lot of physical strength at times. But where this was not a
factor, many of the Russian female pilots demonstrated a talent for winning
air-to-air battles. Russia stopped using female pilots when the war was over.
The same thing had happened during World War I, when the few female pilots were
dismissed once the fighting was over. This did not change until the 1970s, and
since then many nations, even Moslem ones, have used female military pilots.
Even with all the powered
controls, female fighter pilots still have to spend a lot of time in the gym,
building up upper-body strength. This is mainly to deal with the occasional
high G (gravity) forces they encounter when making tight turns at high speeds.
The new flight helmets, which weigh over four pounds, also require strong neck
pilots. So it's probably no accident that female fighter pilots look something
like female swimmers.