On Tuesday May 5th, Lieutenant Colonel Christine Mau became the first female F-35 pilot in the Department of Defense. She is currently the deputy commander of the 33rd Operations Group at Eglin Air Force Base.
Prior to her first real flight in the Lightning II, she was required to go through 14 simulator sessions to familiarize herself with the aircraft flight controls and systems.
Tuesday was the real thing, her first flight in the Twin-Tailed Lightning and she had this to say about what it felt like to release the brakes and taxi out in the new jet:
“It wasn’t until I was taxiing to the runway that it really struck me that I was on my own in the jet. 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.”
Previous to this, Mau was the commander of the 4th Operations Support Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. She had been a Director of Operations for the 428th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home, the unit training the Republic of Singapore Air Force on the F-15SG.
Here’s a look at Lieutenant Colonel Mau making history in Afghanistan during a particular mission as a Strike Eagle pilot with the 389th Fighter Squadron:
Congratulations, Grinder! Keep up the fantastic work!