FIRST FEMALE PILOT to fly US Air Force F-35 Fighter Aircraft – The very first female pilot to fly the US Air Force F-35 fighter aircraft. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine aircraft.
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Fighter Wing Operations Group deputy commander, completed her first training flight in the single-seat fifth-generation fighter following 14 virtual training missions in the Full Mission Simulator at the F-35 Academic Training Center. “It wasn’t until I was taxiing to the runway that it really struck me that I was on my own in the jet,” said Mau, formerly an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot. “I had a chase aircraft, but there was no weapons system officer or instructor pilot sitting behind me, and no one in my ear like in simulators.” And with that, like the other 87 F-35A pilots trained over the last four years at Eglin, Mau thundered down the runway and was airborne as the first woman in the Air Force’s premier fighter. “It felt great to get airborne. The jet flies like a dream, and seeing the systems interact is impressive. Flying with the Helmet Mounted Display takes some adjusting, but it’s an easy adjustment,” said Mau. “The training missions in the simulator prepare you very well, so you’re ready for that flight.” The initial flight in the F-35 training syllabus is designed to orient pilots with the physical aspects of flying the F-35 compared to other fighters they’ve flown previously, such as the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, F-16 Falcon, A-10 Warthog or F-22 Raptor.